Matchwinner Walker rewarded with first start of the season for Pools

Boss Ronnie Moore congratulates Hartlepool United matchwinner Brad Walker
Boss Ronnie Moore congratulates Hartlepool United matchwinner Brad Walker
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Brad Walker has the chance to cement a place in the Hartlepool United side.

The teenager will start in tomorrow night’s League Two clash with Bristol Rovers at Victoria Park, where Pools can make a move towards a return to the top seven.

Walker scored an 83rd-minute winner for Pools at Yeovil Town on Saturday – just three minutes after coming on for Michael Woods.

And the 19-year-old will take his place after Woods collected his fifth booking of the season at Huish Park to land a one-match ban.

Walker had been on the pitch only three minutes when he produced a cool finish after getting on the end of fellow sub Kudus Oyenuga’s shot.

After playing superbly in pre-season, the Billingham-born youngster was injured on the eve of the big kick-off and, after regaining his fitness, has been restricted to bench duty.

But boss Ronnie Moore says the stage is now there for Walker to perform on.

“It is up to Brad to play well and stop Woodsy from getting back,” said the Pools manager.

“If he plays well, he stays in.

“Brad’s got quality, there is no doubt about it, he’s just been lacking match-time. We’ve had a chat, he knows what we’re looking for.

“On Saturday, I said to him before he went on ‘go and make a name for yourself’ and it was nice to see him on the scoresheet. Woodsy is hardly an aggressive midfielder, is he? But that (booking) has given Brad a chance now.”

Moore did not say it in as many words but, in effect, the midfield has almost picked itself.

First Carl Magnay and now Matthew Bates have excelled in the holding role in a combination with Woods and Nicky Featherstone. It is a formula which has served Pools superbly in the opening weeks of the season

“Featherstone and Woods have done well in there – it’s hard to leave them out,” admitted Moore.

“If you are playing three in midfield, you are looking for a holding midfielder and I don’t see Brad as that. So he’s in competition with the other two, but Woodsy getting suspended has opened the door.”

Scott Fenwick was credited with a slight touch when Jake Carroll’s free-kick gave Pools the lead, but former Victoria Park loanee Ryan Bird levelled it up before Walker had the last word.

Yeovil Town: Krysiak, Roberts, Sokolik, Arthurworrey, Smith, Cornick, Sheehan, Dolan, Howells (Beck 85), Bird, Bassett (Allen 71). Subs not used: Weale, Gibbons, Fogden, Melanson. Booked: Bird, Sheehan. Goal: Bird 37.

Hartlepool Utd: Bartlett, Halliday, Boyce, Harrison, Carroll, Featherstone, Bates, Woods (Walker 80), Fenwick (Oyenuga 66), Paynter, Oates (Smith 90). Subs not used: Hawkins, Jones, Nearney, Denton. Booked: Woods. Goals: Fenwick 32, Walker 83.

Att: 3,078.

Ref: Fred Graham (Essex)