Neale Cooper says Pools must make chances pay

Steve Howard looks on as his shot from just inside the Carlisle United area hits the post. Picture by FRANK REID
Steve Howard looks on as his shot from just inside the Carlisle United area hits the post. Picture by FRANK REID
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NEALE Cooper has warned that Hartlepool United’s profligacy in front of goal could cost them dear this season.

The Scot was left frustrated in the wake of last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat to Carlisle United, a late double from the Cumbrians masking Pools’ earlier dominance.

But they failed to make their superiority pay and a string of chances passed without score.

Pools have three goals from five outings so far this term, and Cooper admits their conversion rate has to improve.

“Yes, it’s encouraging that we’re creating chances,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Bournemouth, “But when we do get the chances we have to kill teams off.

“I was left thinking afterwards ‘how did we lose that?’.

“But I didn’t rant and rave at the boys because, for the large part, they had played really well.

“Stevie (Howard) hit the bar and Tony (Sweeney) and Andy (Monkhouse) missed good chances.

“But you have to kill off teams otherwise it will come back and bite you – like it did on Saturday.”

It was James Poole who handed the hosts a deserved lead with a well-taken, first-half effort.

He had been preferred in attack to Luke James, scorer of Pools’ second during the 2-0 win over Scunthorpe United seven days earlier.

But Cooper still wants more from his strike duo.

“James (Poole) can be a frustrating player and I’ve spoken to him about that,” said the Pools boss.

“Whether I played him last week was questionable. “But for spells in the match he showed what he can do and scored a good goal from a Stevie header.

“It’s just a case of getting that consistency from him.

“With Luke, he’s still not firing on all cylinders.

“He scored a really good goal the week before but he still needs to get back to his best.

“I just think Poolie knows how to play better around Steve at the moment.”

Howard himself is still searching for his first goal of the campaign, and Cooper went on: “I think Stevie maybe needs that goal.

“He looked a lot better last weekend – he linked really well and hit the crossbar again.

“But maybe a goal, any kind of goal, would get him up and running.”