NEALE Cooper will today intensify his search for a new striker after leaving Preston in a “rage” last night.
Pools were beaten 1-0 by Graham Westley’s woeful North End having failed to make their first-half superiority pay.
That profligacy – which saw eight clear-cut openings go begging – looks set to prompt a swift response from Cooper in the transfer market.
Cooper said: “I said in the changing room ‘if you can’t kill off teams then we need to maybe look at players to come in’.
“We need someone to put the ball in the net. That’s two blanks now and we’ll have another look.
“It’s a worry when I see that because goals win football matches.”
And, of the Deepdale defeat – a first in six matches – the Pools boss went on: “I’m raging actually.
“To go there and dominate and get nothing is hard to take.
“We can’t just rely on the defence week-in, week-out.
“The front boys have to take responsibility. We cut through them at will and it was some of the best stuff we’ve played.
“But it’s about putting the ball in the back of the net.
“We had eight good chances and didn’t take any of them.”
Tony Sweeney and James Brown were guilty of the most glaring misses but nonetheless played well.
Both, though, snatched at close-range efforts in the first half when composure would have seen the deadlock broken.
Luke James, after a frustrating afternoon during the weekend stalemate with Bournemouth, was much improved.
The watching scouts were scribbling as soon as James collected one early ball delightfully in his stride and raced forward, swapping passes with Andy Monkhouse before jinking into the area and firing wide.
However, a breathtaking period passed without reward and half-time arrived, and not a moment too soon for Preston.
Frustration was just beginning to creep in as the game approached the final 15 minutes.
Danny Mayor then darted all too easily by two maroon shirts, having cut infield from the left.
With the ball on his favoured right boot he elected to let fly, his missile hitting the top corner of Scott Flinders’ goal
Colin Nish was denied by Preston keeper Thorsten Stuckmann before Peter Hartley headed the loose ball against the crossbar and Tony Sweeney nodded the rebound wide.
Cooper said: “We restricted them to one shot but it goes in, we had nine and go home with nothing.”
Preston: Stuckmann, Marrow, Robertson, Hunt, McAllister (Murphy 67), Barton, Nicholson (Mayor 54), Procter, Parry, Holroyd, Cummins, Murphy (McLaughlin 90). Subs Not Used: Arestidou, Brown. Goals: Mayor 76.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Hartley, Horwood, Liddle, Murray (Haslam 75), Sweeney, Brown (Nish 75), James, Monkhouse. Subs Not Used: Rafferty, Humphreys, Baldwin. Booked: Hartley.
Att: 14,191 Ref: Tony Bates (Staffordshire).