Cup win a boost, but Hartlepool United boss Cooper seeks league kick-start

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COLIN Cooper has tempered the ecstasy from Hartlepool United’s midweek rout by reminding his players that their priority remains a first win of the League Two campaign.

Pools put five past League One Bradford City without reply during Tuesday night’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy First Round.

They return to league action tomorrow afternoon when Wycombe Wanderers – JPT victors at Exeter City and unbeaten in three – come to Victoria Park (kick-off 3pm).

Cooper’s boys remain the only Football League club yet to score this season and, with two points from five outings, they currently populate the bottom-tier relegation zone.

And, while confidence is understandably soaring at Maiden Castle in the wake of their five-goal show, the boss is nonetheless keen to keep a check on expectation.

“The league is our priority,” said Cooper.

“The Bradford win gives us a foothold in the season.

“But we have to transfer what happened on Tuesday into our league form with two home games next up, that’s a fact.

“Anybody coming on Saturday thinking that we’ll roll Wycombe over is naïve.

“They are a team that are full of confidence and are on a decent run, they’re unbeaten in three and come into this with some good results.

“They won in the JPT as well on Tuesday.

“So we can’t think we’ve nailed it after one result – if you do that then you’ll get a kick up the backside.

“You don’t want to batter them (the players) down because you want them to feel good about themselves still.

“But you want them to realise that it’s just one game.”

Cooper believes a positive start tomorrow is key, his side having been forced to “hang in there” following sluggish openings in recent matches.

To that end, is there extra pressure on skipper Neil Austin to win the coin toss?

“We have a way that we want to start a game and, if the opposition get the kick-off, then you have to retrieve the ball before you can start with your game-plan,” said Cooper.

“If we get the kick-off then everyone knows how we want to start.

“If we don’t get it then maybe it’s something we have to think about because at Torquay last weekend we were slow to start.

“We had to hang on for a little while.

“On Tuesday, Bradford had the kick-off and they dictated the tempo for the first 15 minutes.

“There were a couple of scary moments and Scott had to make a couple of saves.

“It’s not the ideal start but twice now we’ve hung in there.”