NEALE Cooper was at a loss to explain Hartlepool United’s “dire” performance during the 1-0 defeat at Leyton Orient.
From the first minute the visitors were on the back foot and struggled to maintain possession throughout the match.
The deciding goal arrived courtesy of the forehead of striker Ryan Brunt two minutes after half-time, although Cooper admits that without Scott Flinders Pools could have shipped five for a third time this season.
The Pools boss reflected: “It was beautiful night on a beautiful pitch but we put in a dire performance.
“We had a really good chat before the game, we were up for it and then we go out and play like that.
“If they didn’t enjoy playing on that and can’t raise themselves for the game then they should not be footballers.
“I’m saying the same things again though.
“They’ve got to have more bottle.
“Every day we work on possession of the ball, but when there’s a bit of pressure on they don’t seem to want it.
“The quality just isn’t good enough.
“The final ball was poor, the deliveries have to be better.
“Every team we seem to play they’re good at it.”
Cooper had been pleased with the performance of centre-back Jack Baldwin, but admits the defender was caught napping for the goal.
“The cross for the goal had to be stopped better in the first place by Darren Holden,” he went on.
“But Jack, who I thought had been excellent again, was caught ball-watching and the lad scores an easy goal.
“That’s your job, to defend those type of situations.
“But without Scottie it could have been five.
“He was excellent, absolutely outstanding.”
Cooper substituted both Sunderland loanee Ryan Noble and former Middlesbrough winger Jonathan Franks in the second half, and the Scot explained: “Jonny Franks’ decision-making was poor.
“He smashed one ball into Ritchie Humphreys from 15 yards, that’s not good enough.
“Ryan, as well, he didn’t take his chances to get in behind the defence and wasn’t really at it again.
“But then other boys come on and they’ve got to perhaps show me more as well.”
l SPINELESS Pools: See Page 38-39