Hartlepool Utd suffer ‘worst possible start’ with Rochdale defeat

Neil Austin at the end of the game against Rochdale.
Neil Austin at the end of the game against Rochdale.

THE worst possible start.

That is how Neil Austin describes Saturday’s 3-0 humbling at Rochdale.

The veteran defender was part of the team 12 months ago who were thumped 5-0 at Crewe Alexandra on the opening day.

Austin and co had been determined to avoid similar despair this time around but another sorry showing sees them propping up League Two, albeit after one round of fixtures.

“It’s probably the worst possible start after all the hard work of the last few weeks,” said the 30-year-old.

“At half-time we were 1-0 behind after creating chances, but we cannot miss chances like that and defend like we did – there’s work to be done on the training ground.”

Austin, though, says the players, with the aid of manager Colin Cooper, will not allow this term to play out in the same manner as last season’s relegation campaign.

“Last season we started the same with a bad away defeat, but there’s not a chance of this season being the same – not how positive the gaffer has been,” he went on.

“It’s not going to happen and things are positive.

“The management team have come in fresh, it’s their first job on their own and they have come in with their own ideas.

“The boys have took to it and enjoyed it too.

“We will bounce back from this, without a doubt.”

Pools had bossed the opening 10 minutes on Saturday before falling behind to Scott Hogan’s fine, individual strike.

And the visitors were to spurn chances for parity before a needless penalty concession allowed a second and slack defending a third.

“We have to do better in both penalty areas, we could have won the game 6-5,” Austin added.

“On the positive side we created chances – clear chances not just half chances – and should be scoring them.

“We could have been in front, Jon Franks had a great opportunity at 0-0 which the keeper saved, score that and it’s a different game.

“Then straight after half-time Jack Compton whipped a ball over for Tony Sweeney, free header.

“If it goes in it’s 1-1 and a different game but then five minutes later they score - defend like that and it’s not good enough.”