Hartlepool United face up to keeper crisis

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HARTLEPOOL United will be forced to enter the loan market in search of a back-up goalkeeper after teenager Dominic Scott played the full 90 minutes of last night’s 2-0 friendly defeat against Dutch club Telstar.

The 16-year-old only travelled to Holland as reserve to Scott Flinders after deputy Andy Rafferty suffered a knee injury, which will keep him out of the start of the season and possibly beyond.

But first-choice Flinders is now suffering from a thigh strain, meaning Scott was thrown into his senior debut. Boss Neale Cooper hopes that Flinders will be fit for Wednesday’s game with Almere City.

“Scott’s injury isn’t too serious, but it seems to be lingering on a bit,” explained the Scot. “Hopefully he’ll be back in a couple of days, but we’ll have to look at it going forward in terms of bringing someone in because Andy is also injured.”

Scott, too, almost missed out on last night’s game. “He hurt his finger in the morning and there was a slight doubt over him as well!” revealed Cooper.

“But he did well. There wasn’t much he could do with the second goal when it was deflected off the wall.

“His kicking was good and he can be proud of himself because there was a bit of pressure on him coming in at such a young age.”

Cooper cut a frustrated figure at times. Second Division Telstar were unarguably the superior side for the majority of a well-contested affair, settled with a goal in each half from Rhys Murphy, formerly of Arsenal, and Jergé Hoefdraad.

Cooper handed debuts to close-season signings Simon Walton, Steve Howard and Jonathan Franks, but they, like their new team-mates, struggled to suppress the ball-playing hosts.

The Pools boss was a little surprised at what he labeled “fatigue” among his men, and while they returned to their team base minus an ear-bashing, Cooper will let them know that certain standards must improve in the coming weeks.

“I won’t blast the boys, definitely not. It’s all part of pre-season, games such as that,” he said today.

“But I just thought it looked like a lot of them needed the game and others, the ones who have been flying in pre-season, looked really tired.

“That’s maybe because they worked extremely hard in the morning.

“I’m not making excuses and I have to admit that they were a lot brighter than us.

“We started well enough but then got very sloppy and started giving the ball away. The problems we caused were down to ourselves and I just thought everyone looked a bit fatigued.

“We were off the pace and they just looked brighter and sharper. We just couldn’t get close enough to them and that was a bit disappointing at times.”

Cooper, though, was pleased to get a good hour from new boys Howard and Walton. “For Simon and Steve to get an extra 15 minutes was important, but they looked a bit tired, too,” he said.

“But they’ll come on for that and I thought they both did well.”

HARTLEPOOL first half: Scott, Richards, Collins, Johnson, Horwood, Franks, Sweeney, Walton, Poole, Howard, James

Second half: Scott, Austin, Baldwin, Hartley, Holden, Humphreys, Walton (Buddle 60), Murray, Monkhouse, Nish, Howard (Rutherford 60)