Hartlepool Utd boss happy to be back home for Bristol Rovers clash

Colin Cooper
Colin Cooper

COLIN Cooper is looking forward to the comforts of home after a tough week on the road saw his Hartlepool United side pick up just one point from two matches.

Pools take on Bristol Rovers in Sky Bet League Two at Victoria Park on Saturday (KO 3pm) with the gaffer looking to kick-start their push for the top seven.

Victoria Park has been a good hunting ground for Cooper’s team in recent weeks with four clean sheets on the spin against York City, Scunthorpe United, Newport County and Torquay United - picking up three wins and a draw.

But back-to-back away trips to strugglers Wycombe Wanderers [2-1 defeat] and Accrington Stanley [1-1 draw] saw Pools pick up a solitary point, hampering their push for the top seven.

Despite this week’s results, they haven’t lost any ground on the final play-off spot and 10th-placed Pools remain five points adrift going into the weekend.

Cooper said: “I am looking forward to getting back to The Vic after a busy week on the road, if I’m honest.

“On Saturday we came away very disappointed from Wycombe, with not enough help from the officials.

“Then on Tuesday, the game ebbed and flowed either way, with both sides managing to get a point, which probably helps neither of us in our quest to do what we want to do.

“I am looking forward to getting back but only if we go with a real positive attitude.

“We are now at the point

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where if we are to close the gap then we have to start winning games and the first challenge is to beat Bristol Rovers on Saturday.”

The last time the two sides met was back in September and the match ended in a 2-2 draw after a Luke James double helped secure a point.

Since then Pools have steadily climbed the League Two table while Bristol had been struggling until a recent six-match unbeaten run saw them climb away from the drop-zone.

Cooper is expecting another tough match on Saturday.

He told SportMail: “When we started this little run of matches against Northampton, Torquay, Wycombe Wanderers, Accrington Stanley and Bristol Rovers - they were five out of the bottom six.

“Bristol Rovers now are on our tail and they, like Accrington and Wycombe, have managed to put a good run together at the right time.

“The one thing we know from playing them earlier in the season is we are going to have to be on the front foot.

“We will have to be as dogged and determined as we were against Accrington and we will be doing our preparation to look to see what weaknesses we can exploit and to get the right people in the right areas in order to do that.”

Bristol, managed by John Ward, had started to creep up the Sky Bet League Two table in recent weeks after going six matches unbeaten.

But that run of good form came to an end at the Memorial Stadium on Tuesday night, when they lost 2-1 to Dagenham and Redbridge.

Ward’s team are currently 16th in League Two with 42 points, five points above the relegation trap door and just four points behind Colin Cooper’s 10th placed team, with a game in hand.

One thing is for sure though, Cooper won’t have a new assistant manager in the dugout for the weekend’s match.

Craig Hignett left Pools last week to take up the Number 2 role to Aitor Karanka at Middlesbrough.

Cooper said he has put forward some suggestions to the Pools hierarchy and is waiting to see what happens.

Names linked with the role include former Boro coaches Mark Proctor and Mark Venus and BBC Tees summariser Neil Maddison.

Pools (probable): Flinders, Richards, Collins, Burgess, Holden, Walton, Walker, Monkhouse, Barmby, Harewood, James.

Subs: Rafferty, Hawkins, Sweeney, Compton, Poole, Rodney, Franks.

Bristol Rovers: Mildenhall, Smith, Parkes, McChrystal, Brown, Mohamed, Clarke, O’Toole, Lockyer, Clarkson, Beardsley.

Subs: Woodards, Gillespie, Harrison, Harrold, Gough, Clucas, Santos.