Hartlepool boss Cooper: Cut out sloppy starts

Pools' Andy Monkhouse looks on as his shot rebounds off the post late in the second half against Burton Albion. Picture by FRANK REID
Pools' Andy Monkhouse looks on as his shot rebounds off the post late in the second half against Burton Albion. Picture by FRANK REID
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FRUSTRATED Colin Cooper is demanding his Hartlepool United side stop giving the opposition a head start after seeing his team again having to come from behind to draw 1-1 with Burton Albion.

A controversial Phil Edwards goal in the 17th minute gave the Brewers the lead before substitute Bradley Walker’s terrific effort with his first touch of the ball secured a point for Pools in Sky Bet League Two.

Cooper, the players and fans all thought there was a foul on Luke James in the build up to the opening goal but referee Richard Clark waved play on and Edwards was able to chest the ball down in the box and fire it low through the legs of Scott Flinders.

Trimdon-born Cooper said his side should have been more switched on and believes while it should have been a foul, Edwards should also not have been given the opportunity to score.

Pools though once again showed great resilience to come back from a losing position, as they have done against Coventry City twice and Cheltenham Town in recent weeks.

The point though leaves Pools 14th, still seven points off the play-off spots, ahead of three matches in seven days over the festive period.

And Cooper said his players need to start better and get the momentum on their side.

The 46-year-old said: “It is frustrating and the players are recognising that themselves.

“We keep giving them the messages about trying to create momentum going forward.

“What Phil Edwards does for the goal is smashing for a full back, who has taken the ball down on his chest and managed to smash it into our goal.

“I feel as though it is a foul on Luke beforehand and the referee decides to let it go.

“I can have an argument with the referee about why he doesn’t give the foul but I can’t have an argument about what happens next and how he is allowed to control the ball in our box and score.

“There is no argument about that.

“As much as we are disappointed with what happens with Luke, what happens five seconds later I have to look at that and ask why?

“It is because he is on the front foot going towards our goal and we are almost waiting.”

Having watched Burton Albion play in the build up to Saturday’s fixture, Cooper had told his players that they liked to get on the front foot and press teams and they certainly did that in the opening 20 minutes.

On several occasions the Pools rearguard looked overrun, not helped by the midfield’s inability to move the ball forward quickly enough.

But the second half was much better and the two substitutes helped restore Pools’ foothold in the game against promotion-chasing Burton, now fifth in the league.

Cooper’s decision to bring on Bradley Walker and Jonathan Franks for Simon Walton and James Poole gave his side a fresh boost, which resulted in a fine strike courtesy of 17-year-old Walker.

Cooper added: “The introduction of Franks and Bradley gave us that impetus, and that is no disrespect to Simon and Poolie.

“Bradley’s goal was smashing and there was only going to be one team that won the game after that but we weren’t quite capable of getting the second.

“There was some good signs in both halves, the second half more so.

“If we have to keep chasing games though, then it’s going to be asking a lot.

“We need to find a way of keeping that back door closed and then try to go and get our noses in front.

“When we do that we’ll be flying again.”