CONNOR Oliver will make his first Hartlepool United start this weekend after the appeal over Simon Walton’s red card was rejected by the Football Association, writes ROY KELLY.
Walton was sent off 12 minutes into the second half of Easter Monday’s dramatic 2-1 victory over Morecambe.
The 26-year-old was dismissed for a tackle on visiting midfielder Jordan Mustoe.
Walton looked bewildered by the decision and Pools fans close to the incident were incensed with Mustoe who they thought made a meal of the tackle.
But the FA have backed referee Scott Duncan and the four-match ban stands with Walton missing the last two games of this season, Saturday’s visit to Plymouth Argyle and the home clash with Exeter, plus the first two matches of the 2014-15 programme.
It is a bitter blow to the midfielder who has worked his socks off to try to arrest Pools’ recent slide.
Ironically, his exit seemed to be the turning point for Pools on Monday as they fought back from being a goal and man down to beat the Shrimps with goals by subs Jack Compton and Jack Barmby.
Walton’s absence on Saturday at former club Plymouth will mean a full debut for Oliver, who joined Pools last month on loan from Sunderland, along with centre-half Scott Harrison.
The 20-year-old, from Newcastle, made a promising, yet brief, substitute appearance in the defeat to promotion-chasing Chesterfield.
Harrison has already settled in well to the Pools side, having his best game so far on Monday alongside the outstanding Sam Collins,
And Cooper has no doubts about Oliver stepping in as the defensive midfielder at Home Park. “Connor is a good footballer, I recognised that as soon as I watched for Sunderland’s development team,” said the manager.
“I know he can handle a football,
“He can pass and he has a fierce shot if he gets 25 yards out from goal.”
Cooper hopes Pools will now be free to turn on the style and finish their season in a bit of style, now they are safe from the threat of the drop.
“The result hopefully gives people that might have been thinking negatively a chance to relax, be positive and express themselves in the last two games and see where we end up,” said the 47-year-old.