Colin Cooper says Hartlepool United can get even better after run of five wins

Luke James celebrates his goal in the 2nd half in action against AFC Wimbledon
Luke James celebrates his goal in the 2nd half in action against AFC Wimbledon

COLIN Cooper is adamant his Hartlepool United players can still get better despite watching his side stretch their winning run to five games.

Pools beat Wimbledon 3-1 at Victoria Park thanks to a penalty from Simon Walton, an exquisite looping header from Luke James and a fierce strike from on-loan Middlesbrough midfielder Matty Dolan.

It wasn’t the most fluent of performances for Pools but it was their fourth consecutive win in League Two and it sees them climb two places to 14th with 18 points.

Just three points now separates Pools and the play-off positions but the gaffer wants to see even more quality from his players.

Cooper said: “It was by no means perfect and we can be so much better.

“But my goodness they are putting an awful lot of effort in to make sure teams have to do something to score against us at the moment.”

Confidence is sky high among the Pools players after wins against Mansfield, Exeter City, Plymouth Argyle and now AFC Wimbledon in the league but Cooper is wary about letting the winning mentality slip.

Cooper, who admitted there wasn’t much in the game for either team, said: “It is a nice feeling to have at the moment.

“The mind-set of a professional athlete or a footballer in particular can shift very quickly.

“You are used to losing and you go a goal down then you think ‘here we go again’.

“But all of a sudden we are in a situation where we go a goal up and think ‘here we go again’.

“Quality wise, and on the ball, me and Craig [Hignett] have said the standards in quality can be even higher but we are being difficult to break down and are catching teams on the counter-attack.

“It is very pleasing and whether Lady Luck has changed in our favour I don’t really care.”

The hard-fought victory was the fifth win on the bounce, including the recent Johnstone’s Paint Trophy

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win over Sheffield United,

and it also meant back-to-back home wins for Cooper’s side following Saturday’s 1-0 win over Plymouth Argyle.

Cooper - who said the challenge now facing Pools is to keep the run going - is keen to instil the right mind-set in his players around doing the “ugly” side of the game well in order to win matches.

The former Middlesbrough defender said: “You have to allow the players to feel good about themselves and keep reiterating the messages that the reason you are winning games, is because you are doing the ugly stuff of football really well.

“They are working hard and trying hard to be difficult to beat and the shape of the team is pretty good at times.