Colin Cooper disappointed as Hartlepool United lose 2-1 to EvoStik side Whitby Town

MAKING HIS POINT: Colin Cooper talks to Connor Smith during the game against Whitby Town. Picture by FRANK REID
MAKING HIS POINT: Colin Cooper talks to Connor Smith during the game against Whitby Town. Picture by FRANK REID

DISAPPOINTED Colin Cooper wasn’t happy to see his Hartlepool United side lose 2-1 to non-league Whitby Town in their latest pre-season friendly.

But the Pools manager believes Saturday’s friendly encounter will act as a good learning curve for the younger players.

Cooper made several changes from the side beaten by Sunderland, with only Luke James and trialist Tommy Miller keeping their places in a youthful side.

One of those youngsters, 17-year-old Connor Smith opened the scoring for Pools.

But a brace from Chris Lynch either side of half-time secured the win for Whitby Town, managed by former Pools defender Darren Williams.

Cooper said: “This was a game we should be winning - there is no two ways about that.

“The disappointment is that we haven’t managed to beat Whitby and you have to have a look at that.

“As much as I can stand here and say it is about getting minutes under your belt, it is really a game that we should be comfortably winning, that we haven’t.”

The Pools manager, though frustrated with the final scoreline, did find positives and praised the impact of two of the younger players – Smith and Lewis Hawkins, 20.

Cooper said: “The lads who started the game are the ones that are slightly behind in terms of minutes.

“I know Daz [Williams] likes to get it down and it was never going to be a crash, bang, wallop sort of game.

“It was a good opportunity for them to look at the players they may try to bring in before the season starts and I thought it was a good exercise and a good game.

“Their winning goal was disappointing but I thought there was some encouraging bits and pieces, in particular from Connor Smith and Lewis Hawkins.

“Connor got himself another goal, that’s four for him in pre-season [after a hat-trick at Billingham town] in the two games he has played and that is really encouraging.

“You could see in the second half when he does a couple of things wrong he got really angry and frustrated with himself but he should really be patting himself on the back. Everybody makes mistakes.

“Lewis is in his early 20s and isn’t a kid anymore but he has talent and can manipulate the ball.

“He takes a few too many touches from time to time and on a pitch like that, where the grass is a little longer and it is a bit sticky under foot, he has to learn when to take touches and when to move the ball a bit quicker.”

Cooper also called on his younger players to look for different ways of carving teams open.

He added: “To be fair to Whitby, they dropped off us, made two banks of four and made it hard for us to play in between.

“If a team does that, yes you have a lot of possession, but you still have to try to create things.

“Instead of playing it through the middle, start using the flanks a bit more or balls over the top and stretching their defence.

“For the younger players though, that is all about learning and I want them to try to play the game in the right way.”