Cooper wants Pools to relish home return

Colin Cooper is joined by ex-Sunderland boss Malcolm Crosby on the bench at  Wycombe last week. Picture by Frank Reid
Colin Cooper is joined by ex-Sunderland boss Malcolm Crosby on the bench at Wycombe last week. Picture by Frank Reid
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COLIN Cooper is looking forward to the comforts of home after a tough week on the road saw his Hartlepool United side pick up just one point from two matches.

Pools host Bristol Rovers in Sky Bet League Two at Victoria Park tomorrow, with Cooper looking to kick-start their push for the top seven.

Pool have had four clean sheets on the spin at home, picking up three wins and a draw.

But back-to-back away trips to strugglers Wycombe (2-1 defeat) and Accrington (0-0 draw) have hampered their chances of a play-off place.

Despite this week’s results, though, they have not lost any ground on the final play-off spot and 10th-placed Pools remain five points adrift going into the weekend.

Cooper said: “I am looking forward to getting back to The Vic after a busy week on the road, if I’m honest.

“On Saturday, we came away very disappointed from Wycombe, with not enough help from the officials.

“Then, on Tuesday, the game ebbed and flowed either way, with both sides managing to get a point, which probably helps neither of us in our quest to do what we want to do.

“I am looking forward to getting back home, but only if we go with a real positive attitude.

“We are now at the point where if we are to close the gap then we have to start winning games and the first challenge is to beat Bristol Rovers.”

The sides last met in September. when Luke James’s brace earned a 2-2 draw in Bristol.

Since then, Pools have steadily climbed the table while Rovers had been struggling until a recent six-match unbeaten run saw them climb away from the drop zone.

Cooper is expecting another tough match.

He said: “When we started this little run of matches, they were five out of the bottom six.

“Bristol Rovers now are on our tail and they, like Accrington and Wycombe, have managed to put a good run together at the right time.

“The one thing we know from playing them earlier in the season is we are going to have to be on the front foot.

“We will have to be as dogged and determined as we were against Accrington and we will be doing our preparation to look to see what weaknesses we can exploit and to get the right people in the right areas in order to do that.”

Rovers’ good run came to an end at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night, when they lost 2-1 to Dagenham and Redbridge.

John Ward’s team are 16th with 42 points, five points above the relegation trap door and just four points behind Pools, with a game in hand.

Hartlepool (probable): Flinders, Richards, Collins, Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Barmby, Harewood, James. Subs: Rafferty, Hawkins, Sweeney, Compton, Poole, Rodney, Franks.

Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown, Mohamed, Clarke, O’Toole, Lockyer, Clarkson, Beardsley. Subs: Woodards, Gillespie, Harrison, Harrold, Gough, Clucas, Santos.