JAMES Poole is refusing to use Hartlepool United’s gruelling schedule of three games in six days as an excuse for Friday’s defeat to Newport County.
Pools were well below par and struggled to get a foothold in the Sky Bet League Two game at Rodney Parade.
Newport’s high-intensity approach to the opening 30 minutes was too much for Colin Cooper’s men, who fell behind to a 6th minute Harry Worley header.
A second half goal from Conor Washington sealed the victory but Poole, one of the few bright spots, is refusing to make excuses.
Friday night’s match was Pools’ third in six days following the FA Cup First Round match against Notts County, which they won 3-2 last Saturday and the cruel 2-1 defeat by Rotherham United in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy on Tuesday.
But the former Manchester City striker says his team mates are used to playing regularly and doesn’t think fatigue was an issue either.
Indeed Poole, who has netted four goals so far this campaign, said the players are desperate to play again to make amends for Friday’s defeat.
The 23-year-old said: “It has been a tough week but then after a couple of bad results you are desperate for the next game.
“The three games in six days is definitely not an excuse that we can use for the performance on Friday.
“A lot of the lads have played three games in a week before and we are a fit bunch of lads.
“For whatever reason, we weren’t at it on Friday night.”
Before kick-off on Friday, Pools had won seven out of the previous nine matches in all competitions and their run of form had seen them rise to 13th, just three points off a play-off spot.
Newport County, themselves in the running for promotion this season, had other ideas and were fully deserving of their 2-0 win thanks to their high-tempo, physical approach.
Centre back Worley rose highest from a 6th-minute corner to head the ball past Scott Flinders and give the home side a 1-0 lead and that was extended against the run of play in the 64th minute, courtesy of Washington’s poked effort from close range.
A dejected Colin Cooper said afterwards that the players had fallen below the high standards they had recently set themselves.
The 46-year-old has now called on them to bounce back quickly, starting against Northampton Town at Victoria Park on Saturday.