LIFE without Jack Baldwin started better than it ended for Hartlepool United.
After the centre-half made a late transfer deadline day switch to Peterborough, Pools collecting an initial £500,000 for his services, Colin Cooper’s side kept a clean sheet against a top-three side.
On Tuesday, in what proved to be his final game as a Pools player, Baldwin felt guilty about the manner in which he allowed Wimbledon to score the winning goal.
This time around, and Pools’ defensive unit took pride in securing a shut-out. Sam Collins replaced Baldwin in the middle of the back four. He would have played there even if the deal wasn’t done as the 20-year-old was suspended for two games.
Collins deserves credit for his display, only his third League Two start of the season. Baldwin deserves praise for the way his career has developed since he moved all the way to Hartlepool from Faversham Town three years ago.
Pools can be pleased with the way they developed him into a centre-half of rich promise.
And the small matter of half a million pounds, plus more to come in add-ons, is a good move for all.
Peterborough will see him as an investment to sell on for a couple of million pound in a few years and it is hoped that Pools have a healthy sell-on clause as part of the deal.
Few players leave League Two for the sort of money Posh offered. Even fewer Pools players attract such fees.
In fact, only Tommy Miller and Adam Boyd can match that level of transfer from Victoria Park.
With a clutch of other promising prospects in the ranks, who is to say those fees won’t be matched or beaten in the future?
Michael Duckworth is currently injured, but on Saturday, Pools had Luke James and Brad Walker at the fore. Both have plenty of admirers from above and either or both of them could have been joining Baldwin in moving for decent money last month.
Pools also had the loan talents of Luke Williams and Jack Barmby causing Scunthorpe plenty of problems on the ball and, coupled with a very positive performance from Darren Holden at left-back and another positive outing in the middle from Christian Burgess, Cooper’s principles of forging a young side full of potential is proving to be the right one.
There were a lot of good individual displays against The Iron, the only disappointment is that collectively, as a team, Pools didn’t reach such levels.
There was little wrong with the football they played, nice, neat and into feet, it was just that final cut they lacked.
At the other end, Pools were hardly troubled, only a Gary McSheffrey shot that clipped the crossbar proved a worry.
Luke James misses his connection following a Jack Compton cross from the right
Cooper, as he rightly pointed out, has made a number of good signings at Pools since taking over. Any new recruit landed to try and replace Baldwin will have to follow that path – and he already has Collins ready for an extended run in the side.
Cooper admitted: “Credit to Sam for what he did. Aged 36, I said to him and Marlon the same, age is down to what you mentally want it to be.
“He has trained hard and moving forward as a player at 36 I was in as good condition at any time in my career.
“Sam’s fitness has been up there and he’s kept him ready and that’s why he looked comfortable out there. He’s not played regularly for a while, finding your legs and lungs takes a few minutes in a game.
“But as it went on he got stronger and more confident. We couldn’t use Jack anyway, so there’s an irrelevance to bringing someone in as Sam was always going to play this one anyway.’’