COLIN Cooper said he was “massively disappointed” to see his Hartlepool United lose a winning position at Wimbledon.
Pools conceded two soft second-half goals to go down 2-1 – the first time this season they have lost after taking the lead.
The dejected Pools manager said the gut-wrenching defeat should act as a “big learning curve” for his players, who must now lift themselves for the visit of League Two promotion favourites Scunthorpe this Saturday.
Pools were the better team for the opening 70 minutes and had taken the lead in the 44th minute through a close- range Luke James effort.
But two quickfire goals from Will Antwi and Danny Hylton in the 74th and 76th minutes ultimately ended in defeat for Pools at the the Cherry Red Records Stadium.
The 46-year-old said he wasn’t upset with the performance of his Pools side, who dominated possession and chances in the opening hour.
Cooper said: “I shouldn’t be standing here disappointed, I should be standing here glowing with praise and saying that we got our noses in front and went onto win comfortably.
“That hasn’t happened.
“Wimbledon were very honest and said they didn’t have any answers to what we were doing apart from putting a bit of pressure in and around our 18-yard box, with not particularly clever play but managed to unsettle us enough to get two goals.
“I have to say I am massively disappointed.
“I am not disappointed with the performance – some of the football we played and some of the performances were very good and I acknowledge progression in that respect.
“But having got our noses in front and not going on to win, that is the biggest disappointment.
“Normally, when we go in front, we grow and get better and we did to a certain degree.
“If we had got the second we’d have gone onto win comfortably but we have allowed Wimbledon to exert some pressure on us and one or two people made some strange decisions when pressure was exerted.
“That is the learning curve because at some point you are going to be put under pressure and that is the big learning bit.”
Cooper admitted he was “very disappointed” with the way Pools conceded the two goals, the first came from a mistake from Scott Flinders missing the ball, after several other chances to clear the ball were missed.
“The first one, I can count five opportunities that we had to stop it getting towards our goal from when they picked the ball up near the half-way line,” added Cooper.
“There were five opportunities before the ball crosses our line, and that is too many to not avoid the ball going into our goal.
“The second one, I acknowledge some decent play by Danny Hylton.
“As a striker knows where the goal is, puts his head down, and somehow it nestles in the corner.
“I was disappointed with the way the two goals have ended up in our goal.”
The Pools manager said his players need to learn from this and make sure when they find themselves in a similar position, it doesn’t happen again.
Before last night, Pools had won all 12 matches that they had taken the lead in.
Cooper added: “That is one out of 13 that we have lost while in a winning position and while I am hugely disappointed that has happened, we have to make sure that the feeling of disappointment does not happen again.
“Because when we go in front we are more than good enough to crack on and win games comfortably.
“If we had scored the second I could see us going on to win by four or five but we haven’t.
“While I acknowledge they have done enough to put us under pressure, we also have to look at the opportunities we have had at 1-0 to put the game to bed haven’t been taken either.
“It works both ways.”