A STRONG Hartlepool United reserve side were beaten 1-0 away to Scunthorpe United.
But caretaker boss Sam Collins insisted his team selection wasn’t a punishment for the FA Cup defeat to Blyth Spartans.
Scott Flinders, Matthew Bates, Neil Austin, Nicky Featherstone, Michael Woods, Jonathan Franks and Marlon Harewood started the match at Glanford Park yesterday afternoon.
They had all started against non-league Spartans in the embarrassing FA Cup second round defeat on Friday night.
Collins was adamant it wasn’t a punishment but instead chance for him to work on tactics in a game environment rather than on the training pitch ahead of the weekend trip to Burton Albion in League Two.
Pools lost the Final Third Development League Cup game thanks to a ninth minute goal from Kyle Wooton who scored past Flinders from just eight yards out after a swift counter attack.
Collins said: “This was not a punishment for the players following Friday’s defeat or anything like that – it’s simply that we have a big game on Saturday and rather than get everyone in training we’re going to do it in a game situation.
“To get out into a competitive game situation was loads better than simply working on the training ground and as a staff we were happy with what we got out of it and we told the players that.”
On-loan Matty Dolan, who was cup tied for the Spartans match, also played alongside Jordan Richards, Darren Holden and Lewis Hawkins - who started all four first team matches when Collins was last caretaker boss in October.
Harewood and Woods both missed good opportunities to equalise against the Iron, while up the other end Levi Sutton fired a shot wide just after the break and a Billy Kee shot from the edge of the box was blocked.
Franks then powered his shot over the crossbar while Flinders was called on to make a good save to deny Sutton doubling their lead.
Jack Compton, who played 45 minutes on his return to fitness, curled an effort just wide from 20-yards out as Pools went down 1-0.
Collins added: “I think it took us 20 minutes or so to settle down and get in to what we were trying to do but after that we did well for the rest of the first half and we played very well in the second-half.
“All we really needed was to score a goal to finish off the good work we were doing because in terms of possession and movement it worked really well.”
Former player and current academy coach Ian McGuckin joined Collins in the dugout.
Following the sacking of Paul Murray and assistant Willie Donachie, player coach Collins has been placed in temporary charge while the club look for their third manager of the season.
Pools: Flinders, Richards, Bates, Austin, Holden, Featherstone, Woods (Compton 46), Dolan, Franks, Hawkins (Walker 55), Harewood (Fenwick 46).
Subs not used: Jones, Smith.