PATIENCE is a virtue – and boss Colin Cooper believes it will be a key factor for Hartlepool United tomorrow.
Pools face Newport County at Victoria Park, where 11th plays host to eighth in a vital battle.
Victory for Pools would move them above the Welsh side and leave them just outside the top seven.
While three points would strengthen their position in the top half, it would set them up nicely for Tuesday’s visit to Southend, who have possession of the fourth and last play-off spot.
Given Newport’s rececent period of inactivity – they have not played since January 31 following as series of postponements – it would appear County could be a little ring-rusty.
But while Cooper would not moan if he saw Pools come flying out of the blocks, he says the result is all important and he is not worried when that is achieved.
“A good start would be brilliant,” he said.
“But we’ve started well and then lost or drawn games.
“The one thing we’ve come to realise is that the longer we stay in a game the more opportunity we have of winning.
“For me, we can win in the first minute or 90th minute.
“The Bury and Rochdale games were may be good examples that we might have been a bit naive the way we went at them.
“We dominated possession and territory but got hit on the counter-attack.
“We have to make sure that does not happen (tomorrow).
“The longer we can keep the opposition score at zero, the chances are we will win more than we lose because we will create.
“If we give people chances we may end up chasing the game.
“It would be great to get off to a good start and put them on the back foot, but I’d be happy to win in the 95th minute if we have to.”
While far from being John Beck-esque in their tactics, Newport do prefer a more direct and physical approach in comparison to Pools.
Their approach has certainly paid dividends – they are eighth in the table in their first season back in the Football League and have lost only seven times.
Justin Edinburgh has favoured a 3-4-3 formation with Connor Washington starting in a central position supported by Christian Jolley and Robbie Willmott in the wider roles.
Cooper has no complaints about the County tactics, he just hopes they deal better with them than they did at Rodney Parade back in November.
“Justin has found a formula not just to get the in the league, but that works for them in this division as well,” he said.
“It will be no surprise what to expect and we’ll be ready for it.
“Justin was a very good player in his time and he’s got his team very well drilled.
“They have got into the higher echelons of this lague for a reason – they work very hard and have a system that works.
“Hopefully this time we’ll counter it better than we did in the first half at their place.
“For the first 30 to 35 minutes we did not do ourselves justice.
“We knew what was coming but we did not deal with it, but what I would say is that Lenny Pidgeley was a busier keeper than Scott Flinders on the night – and they won 2-0.
“That emphasises that we must keep our score at nil for as long as we can or stay in the match as long as we can to give ourselves the opportunity to go on and win.”