FIRST it was Neale Cooper and then John Hughes. Both Hartlepool United managers have stressed the importance of close links with the North-East clubs.

And on Saturday the value of Middlesbrough's academy extended its way to Shrewsbury for Pools.

Hughes' most prominent outfield player for long periods was Jon Franks, his goalscorer was Charlie Wyke, who both have been nurtured at Rockliffe Park.

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There's also one that got away from Hughes' grasp - but even he had an influence on securing a point in Shropshire.

Matty Dolan was expected to sign on loan for Pools. He trained with his hometown club, but then opted to move to Yeovil for a month.

While he may have helped them to victory at Sheffield United, a fortnight after Pools won at Bramall Lane, he was also having a say in Pools' performance.

Hughes hopes Dolan will still end up at Victoria Park and admitted: "Matty Dolan text me to wish us all the best on Saturday morning and was giving Charlie and Jon a wee bit of stick. He was asking how they were doing - and they are doing well.

"But I text him saying that Charlie could do with a goal. I won't tell you what he said back, but he did say he would need him to feed him.

"It shows he goes and gets his goal - I like working with Charlie because of his effort and enthusiasm. The goal will do him good.''

He added: "I'm delighted to keep him here. He listens, is a great trainer and always has a cheeky smile on his face.

"Franko is the same. He's been different class, dynamic and clever and playing in that pocket behind the strikers suits him. He is getting in positions and shooting.

"As a coach you can't teach a player the ability to express yourself in the final third, beat a man, shoot, be a maverick.''

Wyke's leveller, which earned Pools a point and made it four from back-to- back away games, came when Franks' high cross from the right landed at the feet of the 20-year-old, who turned and fired low, via a deflection, past keeper Chris Weale.

After three months on loan at Victoria Park, Wyke last week extended the deal until the end of the season and was relieved to get his short-term future sorted out with his first career goal.

"It's nice to get my first, I've had a few chances and it's a bit of a relief,'' admitted Wyke. "It's not going to play on my mind now and I hope there's more to come.

"It can affect you, I'm not thinking about it all the time and I want to push on and get more now. I'd gone eight games without scoring and needed one.

"I've signed until the end of the season, so I feel comfortable here now I know where I stand and it's nice to know where I am."

Pools have now drawn twice with the Shrews this season and they were good value for their point, even if they relied on some late Scott Flinders' heroics to keep the draw intact.

After going level, Pools sat back to preserve their point and, while they defended with some authority, they were worried in injury time.

Flinders saved from David McAllister's shot then performed heroics to keep out Luke Summerfield's header before the crossbar was struck by Tom Bradshaw.

That spell aside, Pools were rarely troubled. They were disappointed in the manner in which they conceded.

Jordan Richards' clearance wasn't long enough, and when it was returned Evan Horwood was robbed of possession when he needed to have the ball cleared. Before that the routine cross should have been cut out.

After starting well, with Franks at the fore, it was a familiar tale when Pools conceded.

This time, however, they didn't crumble. With Simon Walton busy and getting Pools to keep possession along with the rest of the midfield, they were positive.

The formation Hughes has installed, with Walton sitting behind a three-man midfield line, might lack width but it's more than made up for in workrate. The tight three needs the full backs to press forward for width and both Jordan Richards and Evan Horwood were happy do to do.

What disappointed Hughes was that they sat back after levelling instead of pressing for a winner.

They should have had a penalty when Antony Sweeney was dragged back in the penalty area and referee Carl Berry ignored the shirt being pulled off his back.

"The fourth official said he could see it from where he was,'' said Sweeney. "I jumped for the header and was dragged back, but I don't think the referee could see it.''

Pools instead got a corner, Steve Howard met it and his goalbound header was knocked off the line by Taylor.

With back-to-back home games to come, Pools need to give themselves a lift at Victoria Park by getting a decent haul from games with Colchester and Bournemouth.



0-1: Taylor (23, slid the ball in on the turn after Pools failed to clear first convincingly and then deal with a cross)

1-1: Wyke (55, Franks' cross dropped for the loan striker to turn and fire in via a deflection)

Bookings: None

Referee: Carl Berry (Surrey): Little for him to get involved with - but failed in his one key decision when he didn't award Pools a penalty 6

Attendance: 5,101

Entertainment: 3/5

SHREWSBURY TOWN (4-4-2): Weale 6; Gouldon 5, Grandison 6, Jones 6, Jacobson 5; Purdie 5 (McGinn 66, 5), Richards 7, McAllister 6, TAYLOR 7; Morgan 6 (Summerfield 77), Rodgers 4 (Bradshaw 66). Subs (not used): Anyon, Parry, Mambo, Gayle.


8 FLINDERS: His second half performance - and his two superb late saves in particular - earned Pools a point;

6 Richards: Swung over a perfect early cross for Howard and again never let anyone down at right back

7 Collins: After a disappointing opening half, he defended well in the second period as Pools

protected their point with some


6 Hartley: Might have been disappointed with his swipe for the cross which brought the hosts' goal, although went

some way to redeeming himself in the second period

5 Horwood: Lapse in concentration on the edge of his area proved costly for the Shrews' goal as he was robbed. Comfortable in possession with his head up;

7 Walton: Third start in a row and again tried to prompt Pools with his passing. Pools were a poorer side when he went off without anyone to get their foot on the ball;

5 Humphreys: One of three middle men with a few different jobs to do and again proved his suitability to the role both in and out of possession

5 Sweeney: Somehow denied a second-half penalty when he was pulled back in the area, but could get in the area more

from his midfield role

7 Franks: Relishing the chance to get involved more in the centre of the park, always looking to get on the ball and create and press forward;

6 Wyke: First career goal will do him good and his task now is to show more belief in attacking areas and add to

his tally

5 Howard: Had one header cleared off the line and planted another at the keeper - it is hoped Pools can finally start giving him the sort of delivery

he craves


Austin (for Walton 78)

Poole (for Wyke 78)

(not used): Monkhouse, Baldwin, Holden McHugh, James


SCOTT Flinders - took his share of second half crosses into his penalty area and made two quality saves in injury time.