Pools bid to keep it clean at Hillsborough

Match winner: Reda Johnson heads home to give the Owls victory at Victoria Park.    Picture: Steve ellis
Match winner: Reda Johnson heads home to give the Owls victory at Victoria Park. Picture: Steve ellis
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HARTLEPOOL are aiming for a third successive clean sheet as Hillsborough on Saturday.

It took a header by Reda Johnson from a Ben Marshall long throw at Victoria Park in October to make Wednesday the first team to beat Pools in the League this season.

Much water has flowed under the Pools bridge since then - including another eight home defeats in a row and a change of management, with Mick Wadsworth axed and Neale Cooper taking over.

In the first two games of Cooper’s reign, his team lost 3-1 at Sheffield United and 2-1 at home to Scunthorpe.

But they will be in higher spirits as they get set to face Wednesday, after ending that awful home run by beating Rochdale 2-0, and drawing 0-0 at Exeter last Saturday.

It is the first time that the club have kept two successive clean sheets since 2010.

Cooper is pleased that work done to improve the team’s defending has paid off.

“As soon as I came in, I liked the defenders and the goalkeeper,” he said.

“But then I heard the poor home form was because we hadn’t been staying in games for long enough and were conceding bad goals.

“So you look at that and think ‘that’s something we can work on’.

“I’ve spoken to a couple of them individually and they admitted themselves that they hadn’t been up to scratch.

“But what we’ve seen in the last two games is a massive improvement.

“It’s then up to us to make something happen at the other end, and that’s an area we can work on.”

Wednesday are bound to suspect that Hartlepool’s plan will be to try to frustrate them.

An appeal in The Star to find Tony Toms has resulted in the ex-Owls fitness coach being tracked down to living in Wales. He was wanted to help complete the line-up for next month’s Boxing Day 1979 derby reunion dinner at Hillsborough.

Organiser John Green would still love to hear from anybody who knows the wherabouts of player Jeff King - last heard of in Derby - and anyone who knows where he can find John Lowey, Dave Grant and Kevin Taylor, a trio who played in the return derby at Bramall Lane, though not in the home game.