COLIN Cooper today insisted that “no team in League Two is unbeatable” as Hartlepool United brace themselves for their toughest game of the season.
Pools have the unenviable task of taking on in-form Scunthorpe United at Victoria Park tomorrow (kick-off 3pm).
The Iron are on an unbeaten 12-match run under Russ Wilcox, who is undefeated as boss since taking over from the sacked Brian Laws in November.
Wilcox has won seven and drawn five – an incredible run which has produced 26 points from a possible 36 to move into the automatic promotion places.
Scunthorpe had been top only to be overtaken in midweek – Monday’s goalless draw with Fleetwood at Glanford Park being followed by Chesterfield’s win at York 24 hours later.
And they are not only Iron by name but also Iron by deed – they have kept a clean sheet in five of their last six fixtures.
But Cooper hopes Pools can re-produce the sort of flowing football they did at Wimbledon on Tuesday – but this time go on and win and not throw it away.
“I don’t think I was the only one thinking it was harsh on Lawsy, when he left Scutnthorpe,” Cooper told SportMail.
“But I have to say Russ has stepped in and kicked them on.
“Scunthorpe have some good players, especially in forward positions, and they are a real threat.
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“They play good football – it’s going to be a good game and a big test for us, they are right in the mix.
“I think they’ll fancy themselves to come up here and turn us over.
“We’ll have to be ready for that, but we have to have the confidence and belief that we can do the right thing ourselves.
“No-one in this league is unbeatable.
“What Scunthorpe have done is to string a good run of results together to catapult themselves from in and around the the play-offs right into the automatic spots.
“But we can give anyone a game.
“It was disappointing on Tuesday to get our noses in front and lose, something that had not happened this season.
“We must believe that we can get our noses in front but this time go on and win, which we are more than capable of doing.
“Nothing would please me more than to send our fans home happy.”
Cooper was buoyed by the football his players produced in London on Tuesday night, when it looked as though they were set for back-to-back wins for the first time since November.
They could not follow up the 2-0 victory over York, conceding two gift second-half goals to the Wombles.
“We played pretty poorly against York but finished with a bit of a flourish and got the win so everyone goes home happy,” said Cooper.
“On Tuesday we play a hell of a lot better and end up losing 2-1
“It’s a cliche I know but that’s football, you can play well and lose and play pretty poorly and win.
“I want to win to send our supporters home happy, but I also want us to play like we did on Tuesday night.
“What we need to do is to put the two together.
“It’s easy to be magnaminous when you have won, but Wimbledon admitted afterwards they had no answer to what we were doing.
“While that’s nice to hear it’s of little consolation when you’ve come away with nothing.
“You come away scratching your head, ‘how do you play that well, work their keeper and not get anything?’.
“We are going to have to learn from it.
“We need to produce that level of performance but go on to win.
“We had opportunities to put the game to bed but we couldn’t do it, whether that was down to their keeper, or not being technical enough in our finishing or lack of ruthlessness.
“We allowed Wimbledon to put some pressure on our box and they managed to squeeze in a couple of goals.
“It was hard to take – we cut them open several times and scored only one and they got the ball into our box a few times and scored two.
“But we have to take it and move on to Scunthorpe and look to put things right.”