COLIN Cooper today saluted his two Jacks, Compton and Barmby, after they fired Hartlepool United to Football League safety.
The supersubs struck second-half goals to secure an incredible Pools victory yesterday as the League Two strugglers fought back from a goal behind and a man down to beat Morecambe 2-1.
Pools were down to 10 men after a 57th-minute red card for Simon Walton and staring a seventh straight defeat in the face when Cooper brought on the two Jacks.
Compton’s 67th-minute screamer brought Pools level and Barmby notched the winner 10 minutes from time.
It lifted Cooper’s side to 17th and on to 52 points and with Northampton, Bristol Rovers, Wycombe and Exeter all losing yesterday it consolidated Pools’ place in League Two for next season.
“I said to both subs: ‘this is your chance to become a hero’ and both the Jacks did,” said Cooper
“The two Jacks got us the goals to win us the game, but they were all heroes.
“The Jacks are players with great ability but you would also say they have struggled over the last two to three weeks with their confidence.
“Yesterday was may be the perfect scenario for them. Both came up with the goods.
“Jack Compton has looked bright and breezy and brought that onto the pitch
“He has that ability in his left foot. That has been the most positive he’s been for weeks, when he has not made enough of an impact.
“We know how Jack Barmby can manipulate a football. We’ve seen that in the time he has been here. He can score goals and he can create goals.
“Jack Barmby had no fear and came up with an unbelievable finish.
“Perhaps he was slightly too cool for my liking. For a boy of his age that’s an unbelievable level of calmness.
“He decides he’s going to bring the ball in, drop his shoulder and then as the keeper comes out, he slides the ball underneath him.”
A wretched run of form had seen Pools fall from ninth and just five points off the League Two play-offs to only two points off the relegation zone.
But when it mattered, his players came up trumps to win the 19th v 18th battle in front of a bumper crowd of 4,864 at Victoria Park.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon,” said Cooper. “The players were fantastic – a credit to the club.”
Kevin Ellison had put Morecambe ahead with a far post header.
It got worse for Pools as midfielder Simon Walton was shown what appeared a very harsh red card in the 57th minute for a foul on Jordan Mustoe.
However, Pools were fired up an Compton levelled, letting fly from 22 yards with a magnificent left-foot shot which gave the keeper no chance.
Pools were lifted by that piece of brilliance and started to pile on the pressure.
Cooper made his second change 12 minutes from time when he put on Jack Barmby for Andy Monkhouse.
And Pools, incredibly, were ahead in the 81st minute.
The livewire Jon Franks cut in from the left and brought a fine save from Roche. But Barmby was first to the rebound and controlled with his right foot before scoring with his left.
Pools had to survive five minutes of stoppage time but survive they did for a thrilling, deserved and crucial victory.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Harrison, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse (Barmby 78), Poole (Compton 61), Harewood, Franks. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Richards, Jones, Oliver, Hawkins. Sent Off: Walton (58). Booked: Monkhouse, Walker. Goals: Compton 67, Barmby 81.
Morecambe: Roche, Parrish, Hughes, Edwards, Beeley (Diagne 50), Kenyon, Wright, Mustoe, Devitt, Sampson (Redshaw 70), Ellison, Diagne (Amond 84). Subs Not Used: Threlfall, Williams, Marshall, Arestidou. Goals: Ellison 25.
Att: 4,864 Ref: Scott Duncan (Tyne & Wear).