Hartlepool Utd boss wanted to ‘get in the faces’ of Middlesbrough

Scott Flinders in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID
Scott Flinders in action for Hartlepool United against Middlesbrough. Picture by FRANK REID

A DISAPPOINTED Colin Cooper wanted to see his side “get into the faces” of the Middlesbrough players more following last night’s 2-0 friendly defeat.

Second-half goals from substitutes Adam Reach and Bradley Fewster secured the win for Aitor Karanka’s side at Victoria Park, and a deserved win at that with the away side dominating the chances and possession.

Cooper, though, believes his side has a “lot more to offer” and wants them to show it against Bradford City on Saturday, their sixth match of pre-season.

Last night, a half-time power cut in the area of Pools’ ground meant the second-half was played without any floodlights, the game almost finishing in darkness.

It didn’t have too much affect on the game though as Boro made the most of the chances they created and scored twice, thanks in part, to some poor defending from the Pools back-line.

Speaking afterwards, Cooper said he knew his side were in for another tough test following last week’s 3-0 home defeat to Sunderland but wanted his side to be more assertive.

Cooper said: “Against Sunderland was tough and I always thought this game would be tougher.

“Middlesbrough were good and the addition of Kike has given them a bit of spark, movement and technique, and he looks like he has a goal or two in him.

“I take nothing away from the game though really because I knew both games were going to be hard.

“But the disappointing thing, was I didn’t think my team showed enough verve to get about Middlesbrough and we were too passive.

“If we are going to do anything we have to get into people’s faces more.

“We didn’t look under balanced, the shape of the team wasn’t bad and we defended our 18-yard box very well but we have a lot more to offer.

“I’d just like us to see give a bit more and that will start at Bradford City on Saturday.”

At times, Pools were playing with Luke James wide left and Jack Compton wide right, but Cooper stressed afterwards that was never the plan.

He said the pair of them felt they had to go wide in order to stop Middlesbrough, who had dominated the possession, from overloading Pools down the flanks.

Cooper added: “I said to Luke, you need to play inside young Andre Bennett {the Boro right-back] and link in with Marlon [Harewood] more.

“But he is such an honest kid and he wanted to try and avoid Middlesbrough overloading us down our right-hand side and he drifted out there.

“I didn’t ask him or Jack [Compton] to play wide.

“Sometimes, when a team has as much possession as Middlesbrough did in the first half, the natural thing is to go passive and they both wanted to try and help the team so we weren’t easy to break down.

“As a result, they never really got themselves into the positions we wanted them to.

“When we did nick the ball we didn’t do enough with it, didn’t link up enough with Marlon, who probably didn’t do quite enough to hold the ball up.

“All in all, I thought the two centre backs and the goalkeeper were fine.

“But the two goals came from bog standard crosses and there will be bundles of those in League Two.

“We did a session on defending and defending crosses on Tuesday so to concede two goals from crosses, for me as a former defender, was not very pretty to watch.”