COLIN Cooper believes Hartlepool United’s FA Cup defeat to Coventry City will prove a useful learning curve for his young central defensive pairing.
Jack Baldwin, 20, and 22-year-old Christian Burgess have been at the heart of the Pools defence this campaign and have been in impressive form – even popping up with vital goals at times.
But Tuesday’s heartbreaking 2-1 defeat to the Sky Blues was a good lesson against top class opposition in strikers Callum Wilson and Leon Clarke, who have more than 25 goals between them.
For the most part, Baldwin – attracting the attentions of Sunderland – and Essex-born Burgess handled the pair well.
But Clarke showed his predatory skills scoring his second goal of the game in the final few seconds to send Steven Pressley’s side into the Third Round of the FA Cup.
Trimdon-born Cooper said: “On the whole, they do ooze class.
“But not all the time and our lads are young and they are learning.
“Tuesday night was a test up from where they have been.
“Callum Wilson’s movement is very good, he has good pace while Leon Clarke is very clever, drifts into pockets and then he drifts off back shoulders as well.
“So that was a test for them two.
“But there was a lot of
l CONTINUED on Page 35 positives all over the pitch to take from the game.
“We have to make sure we take any positives and make sure we are ready and prepared for Burton Albion on Saturday.”
One positive was that Pools looked dangerous from set pieces against the Sky Blues.
Indeed, Baldwin equalised for Pools from a Matty Dolan corner in the 87th minute, only for Clarke to go and score the winner as the game entered the final few seconds.
Pools gaffer Cooper knows how important set pieces are and he said his defensive pairing, in particular, look dangerous in the opposition’s box.
The 46-year-old added: “Set pieces are about delivery and movement.
“The two centre halves, in particular, if they are on the move and the ball comes into a good area then they are both pretty decent at attacking the ball.
“Christian had a couple of opportunities on Saturday against Cheltenham Town with his head, Jack scored the other night, and they have both scored goals so far.
“It is a case of putting the delivery into good areas and getting people to attack those areas and be aggressive.
“That is what you want to see and we have spoken about it before, you have to be a threat in both boxes.
“When you are playing in League Two and against teams in League One then if you can be a threat in both boxes then you half a chance.”