NEALE Cooper admits that Hartlepool United were taught a “footballing lesson” by Newcastle United – but insists it is one from which they can benefit.
The Premier League side enjoyed a 5-1 rout of Pools at Victoria Park last night, their first three goals coming inside a breathtaking opening 12 minutes.
Going into the game, Pools were unbeaten in three on home soil against higher-division opposition, but Cooper concedes that his men were never going to live with the superior quality of The Magpies.
However, the Scot – whose side kick off their campaign in the League Cup at Crewe Alexandra on Saturday – was still able to take positives from the final pre-season friendly of the summer.
“I didn’t go in the dressing room after the game and go mad with the boys,” he told SportMail today, “Because that was a footballing lesson and we’ll learn from it.
“They were something special from the word ‘go’ and they battered us.
“Our supporters were clapping how good Newcastle were, not having a go at our lads.
“And I don’t want to be negative with them because we can take positives from it.
“It’s not nice to lose like that but we can take lessons going into Crewe this weekend.”
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And lesson number one, says Cooper, will be to eradicate the defensive slips which allowed Shola Ameobi and Sylvain Marveaux a goal apiece inside the first four minutes.
“Any mistakes you make they punish,” he said, “That’s the difference with Premier League players - switch off for one minute and they will kill you.
“At our level you might get away with the odd mistake.
“But we were losing the balls in attacking positions last night and ‘bang’ – they’re up the other end and have scored.
“Every attack they looked like scoring but we still made silly mistakes at the back.
“So we still need to look at some of the defensive errors because if you don’t make them in the first place then you can’t be punished.”
Marveaux added his second and United’s third from the penalty spot on 12 minutes before Haris Vuckic and Gabriel Obertan scored either side of a Tony Sweeney reply after the break.
And Cooper went on: “We had one or two good moves and the goal Tony scored was decent to be fair.
“But to watch Newcastle play like that was fantastic and they will do very well this year.
“The match wasn’t planned and they were grateful for us giving them the game, hopefully it will benefit us financially.
“But I think our fans would have enjoyed it because we’ve seen a top, top side.
“It’s another very good workout for us – we were certainly given the runaround – but it’s all about Saturday now for us.”
Meanwhile, skipper Sam Collins missed last night’s game because of family reasons but is expected to return for the trip to Crewe.