TOMMY Taylor has paid tribute to rookie goalkeeper Keith Finch as the 19-year-old prepares for two tough matches in four days.

Finch started the season third in the Darlington pecking order behind Andy Collett and Frank van der Geest but has quickly been thrust into the spotlight and tomorrow will face highly-rated striker Chris Greenacre of Mansfield, while derby-rivals Hartlepool are the opposition on Tuesday.

Despite not keeping a clean sheet and conceding nine goals in his five appearances this term, manager Taylor says Finch is performing admirably.

"He's done very well," said Taylor. "He's not done a thing wrong in all the time he's played for us, but nobody expected him to because we see him in training every day and he's a good keeper.

"I know he's not the biggest in the world but he's still made all the saves he could be expected to make.

"On Tuesday he conceded two goals, but the first was a penalty and for the second either Craig Liddle or Paul Heckingbottom should have won the header. But instead they let Julian Aslop head it into the goal."

Collett was stretchered from the field against Lincoln a fortnight ago and further examination revealed two cracked ribs, so he'll be sidelined for a further two weeks.

And with van der Geest having returned to Holland after mutually agreeing to end his Feethams stay, Finch took over. But Taylor says he doesn't regret allowing the Dutchman to return home.

He explained: "Frank had to go home because his wife had just had a child, his contract was up at the end of the season and he wasn't in the first team, and that's no good when you're 28 and you've got a family to feed.

"At the time he went, Andy was in the side and I was never going to drop him. It's just typical of our season that he got injured when Frank had gone.

"But Finchy can't be faulted and I'm not looking for anybody else to play in goal."

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