BOSS Colin Cooper today praised the added commitment levels and desire of his Hartlepool United players this season, writes RICHARD MENNEAR.
The 46-year-old took over the reins at Victoria Park in the summer, alongside assistant manager Craig Hignett, and Cooper is delighted with the effort shown by his players.
In recent games, his side, up to ninth place in Sky Bet League Two have beaten fellow play-off chasers Dagenham & Redbridge and Newport County, followed by a gutsy point at Southend on Tuesday.
Pools were losing at the break at Roots Hall but they turned the game around, with Brad Walker’s stunning second-half strike earning a welcome point.
At times, the visitors had to dig deep, with two efforts cleared off the line, and Cooper has praised the commitment levels.
That was epitomised by holding midfielder Simon Walton, who took a crunching kick in the second-half but carried on when it looked like he would have to come off.
Cooper said: “Simon Walton got a kick and I was going to change it and bring on Michael Duckworth and also throw Sweens (Antony Sweeney) on and let him play off Luke (James) for the last five minutes.
“But we never even got to make the substitutions.
“Simon looked over at me on three or four occasions and he was shaking his head saying: ‘No, I don’t want to come off.’
“I’m not waxing lyrical about me and Higgy but I am saying that when we first came into the football club, I’m not sure whether that level of commitment was there.
“It is definitely there now and we have to realise that and build on it.”
The Pools boss has now called on his players to carry their good form into their third game in eight days – Northampton Town away on Saturday.
The Cobblers are bottom of League Two and Cooper says his players will be fully focused going into the match.
“We have to go to Northampton and finish the week off in a really positive manner,” he said.
“We can’t go there feeling flat and sorry that it is our third game – we are more than capable of going there and getting something.
“It is about giving yourself a chance of coming home with something and then you might end up coming back with everything.”