Neale Cooper’s future is in the balance

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NEALE Cooper is today set to call time on his second spell in charge of Hartlepool United.

Pools were beaten 2-1 at Bury last night to slump to the bottom of League One, leaving them without a win in 12 matches and six points from safety.

Cooper spoke after the game and admitted that he will today consider his future as manager, almost certainly spelling the end of his 10-month reign.

“My job is in jeopardy and I know that – it’s not pleasant,” said the Scot when he emerged after half an hour of addressing his players at Gigg Lane.

“I will just have to look at everything in the morning. I have to look at myself.

“But it’s not just me having to think about things.

“Whatever the club decide we’ll have to see.”

The biggest indication that Cooper’s tenure is over came when asked if he would be the man to lead the team at Brentford on Saturday.

“I honestly can’t answer that,” he said, before going on to reveal the pressure Pools’ current predicament has placed him under.

“It’s not nice for me because you know how much I love the club.

“I will always be fond of Hartlepool people whatever happens, I promise that.

“I’m getting a hard time from a lot of people. I’ll just have to see what happens.”

On-loan Sunderland striker Ryan Noble scored a stupendous strike for Pools, but a missed penalty by Neil Austin proved costly, with the defender saying it was “the worst feeling he’s ever experienced on a football pitch”.

The 29-year-old saw his 83rd-minute effort cannon back off the crossbar, condemning Pools to a third straight defeat.

“It’s probably the worst feeling I’ve ever had on a football pitch – people’s jobs and careers are on the line,” said Austin

“With that penalty, I let them down.

“The travelling fans, the fans at home, the lads on the bench, the players on the pitch, it affects everyone.”

Austin succeeded in sending Shakers’ ex-Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson diving in the wrong direction, but his rising steer could not beat the frame of the goal.

He reflected: “Ryan (Noble) wanted to take it, but I scored last week so I’m on them and I knew what way I was going before I took it.

“When I hit it I thought ‘that’s nice’, but then I saw it rising and my heart just sunk.”

The award of Austin’s penalty came after Noble had been denied what looked a stonewall spot-kick as he was felled by three home shirts.

Austin says Steve Rushden’s decision to then blow for a penalty 20 minutes later – Noble again the player involved – was influenced by his failure to spot the earlier foul.

Bury went ahead on 37 minutes when Tom Hopper scuffed home Dominic Poleon’s pullback, and it was 2-0 on 55 minutes, David Worrall sizing a sumptuous curler into the top corner before Noble produced a stunning long-range smash two minutes later.

Bury: Carson, Skarz, Lockwood, Sodje, Doherty, Sweeney, Worrall, Schumacher, Bishop (Healy), Hopper, Poleon (Hughes). Subs: Belford, Jones, Marshall, Carrington, Hewitt.

Hartlepool United: Flinders, Austin, Collins, Baldwin, Holden (Horwood), Hartley, Humphreys (Luscombe), Walton (Franks), Sweeney, Noble, Howard. Subs: McHugh, Richards, Murray, Poole.

Ref: Rushton Att: 1,877.