HARTLEPOOL United may have slipped one place in League Two – but Colin Cooper has his eyes set much higher next season.
Pools moved down to 18th despite taking a point at Plymouth though they could still finish a spot or two higher by beating Exeter at Victoria Park this Saturday in the final game of the programme.
After the magnificent comeback against Morecambe seven days ago to secure the club’s Football League status, Cooper saw more reasons for encouragement in the 1-1 draw at Home Park on Saturday.
Pools, roared on by their fans decked out in International-rescue uniforms, played some slick attacking football and were a little unlucky not to take all the spoils against a side who also failed to stay the course of the season having also been in play-off contention.
Cooper said: “We were fluid it times and I would put that down to two teams who are wanting to play football.
“John Sheridan has said it’s been a disappointing end to the season for them and it’s the same for us too.
“But both teams are capable of competing at the top end of the table and it was nice to see two teams who get the ball down and try to play.
“I hope we can both be at the top end of the table next season.”
Pools trailed to a superb Jason Banton goal on the half-hour but last Monday’s match-winner Jack Barmby – again – came up with the goods thanks to a sublime 67th-minute leveller.
“All in all, it’s a pleasing performance,” said Cooper.
“The only disappointing thing is that we didn’t win it at the end, but maybe that would have been harsh on Plymouth.
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“The goal we conceded was disappointing. Banton manipulates the ball nicely but the goal was a little cheap for me.
“It’s a lovely, nice finish from Jack again.
“He read it well and, just as we saw last Monday he is very good from one-on-one finishes.
“I think there’s only a couple of occasions when he hasn’t ended up scoring in that situation.”