Hartlepool caretaker-manager Micky Barron hailed the performances of Jack Baldwin and Luke James despite the loss to Colchester.
Pools slipped to an eighth successive home defeat and a second under Barron following Mick Wadsworth's sacking earlier this month, but central defender Baldwin, 18, and midfielder James, 17, both made impressive débuts in Saturday's 1-0 reverse.
Barron told the club's official website: "Jack came in and was steady. He got on the ball, won his tackles and headers and competed really well.
"He's been terrific since he came to the club on trial in pre-season.
"We turned to Luke at half-time when we needed a lift, an impact. We knew what he could do and I think he handled the occasion really well and didn't look out of place."