Austin: Hartlepool United set for battle at Accrington

Neil Austin celebrates after scoring a penalty against Luton Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Neil Austin celebrates after scoring a penalty against Luton Town. Picture by FRANK REID
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NEIL Austin is expecting another “battle” tonight away to Accrington Stanley.

Pools and Stanley last season played out a hard-fought goalless draw at The Store First Stadium and Austin is expecting the same again in the League Two clash.

Austin, who will partner Scott Harrison in central defence, said the Pools camp have prepared properly for the match following the weekend defeat to Luton Town.

The players were back in on the Sunday morning, taking part in active recovery swimming sessions, under caretaker manager Sam Collins.

Austin said: “Accrington away on a Tuesday night is the reality of League Two

“But we will go there, put in 100 per cent and give it our all.

“It was a battle last year, they have had a new manager come in and picked up.

“But the spirit around the squad at the moment is brilliant and the banter is flying around.

“We are in good spirits and hopefully we can get a better result tonight [than Saturday].”

Pools were beaten 2-1 by the Hatters at Victoria Park on Saturday, a game in which Austin scored an injury-time penalty.

The squad haven’t had much time off between the weekend and tonight’s match with Collins keen to make sure the squad gives themselves the best chance of picking up a much-needed win at Accrington.

“Sam has demanded 100 per cent, to give ourselves any chance,” added the experienced 31-year-old.

“We were in Sunday doing active recovery at the swimming baths and it is all about recovering well for tonight.

“You have to give yourself the best chance you can to perform to the best of your ability.”

Austin has been drafted back into central defence from left-back for the three matches Collins has been in charge of, playing alongside on-loan Sunderland defender Harrison.

* POOLS midfielder Josh Rowbotham has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent.

The 20-year-old has been at the club since he was aged nine but has made just two appearances for the Pools first team.

Club officials have confirmed he has decided his future lies away from professional football and approached the club to ask whether he could be released from his contract.

Rowbotham made his debut in April 2011 against Tranmere Rovers before penning a professional deal that summer, but went on to make only one more appearance for the first team, at Walsall in March 2012.

“It was a very hard decision to make on my behalf,” Rowbotham said.

“It has been going through my head for a few months and I feel relieved now it has all been sorted – though part of me is still disappointed.”

Rowbotham added: “I have nothing in mind, there are a few opportunities I am looking into and a few career paths but I will need to have a long think about what I want to do.

“I’ll still be coming to some games and will keep in touch with a lot of the lads.”

Club officials said they wished Josh “every success” for the future.