NEALE Cooper has warned his players – pre-season or not – that he will not tolerate the “suicidal” mistakes which cost Hartlepool United dear in last night’s final match in Holland.
Pools were beaten 3-0 by Almere City in the driving rain of Heiloo, a scoreline which Cooper insists did not reflect the balance of the game.
But the Scot was nonetheless annoyed at the manner of the goals conceded, with the big kick-off just three weeks away.
“Two mistakes have cost us,” declared Cooper after seeing Almere take the lead following an all-too-easy delivery into the area, before Peter Hartley gifted the Jupiler League outfit a late third.
“That was the thing, we got in good positions and on top of them, but, from two of those situations, they’ve broken and scored.
“The first one is a mistake in the corner of the park, they’ve crossed it too easily and the lad (Stefano Lilipaly) gets on top of Neil Austin to head it in – a preventable goal.
“The second one, Dominic (Scott) is a young keeper who has done exceptionally well and is learning, but he knows he probably should have saved it (a low finish from Charles Dissels).
“And the third one, well that’s just a mistake by Peter with a short backpass (Rowin van Zaanen capitalising to dink the ball over Scott).
“But the goals were suicide and that’s disappointing because, in the end, the scoreline was harsh.
“It’s OK boys coming in afterwards like they did and saying ‘oh sorry, another mistake’ – we’ve got to stop them.
“You’ve got to say this just isn’t going to happen in the first place.”
Cooper, though, feels the performance was much improved on the showing during Sunday’s 2-0 defeat to Telstar.
He added: “We asked them to get more crosses in the box and they did that.
“We had some good chances – Peter Hartley, Tony Sweeney and Andy Monkhouse – they all came close to scoring. So I was pleased with some aspects.”
Livewire new boy Jonathan Franks was arguably Pools’ stand-out performer on the right wing. “It’s tough against the Dutch sides,” said the former Middlesbrough player.
“You spend a lot of time closing people down because they like to pass it so much.
“We put them under a lot of pressure but the second goal killed us because we were on top at that point.
“We were getting lots of balls in the box and I think we looked like scoring.
“But after that second goal our heads went down a little bit and, in the end, we’re pretty disappointed with the result.”
HARTLEPOOL UTD: Scott, Austin, Collins (Baldwin 46), Hartley, Horwood, Franks, Sweeney, Murray (Humphreys 46), Poole, Howard (James 61), Monkhouse