Hartlepool Utd boss won’t tolerate Almere City ‘suicide’

Steve Howard attempts a header against Almere City
Steve Howard attempts a header against Almere City

NEALE Cooper has warned his players – pre-season or not – he will not tolerate the “suicidal” mistakes which cost Hartlepool United dear in their final match in Holland.

Pools were beaten 3-0 by Almere City last night in the driving rain of Heiloo, a scoreline which Cooper insists did not reflect the balance of the game.

But the Scot was nonetheless annoyed at the manner of the goals conceded, and told SportMail he will have no time for post-game apologies when the season kicks off in three weeks’ time.

“Two mistakes have cost us,” he declared after seeing Almere take the lead following an all-too-easy delivery into the area before Peter Hartley gifted the Jupiler League outfit a third late on.

“That was the thing, we got in good positions and on top of them but from two of those situations they’ve broken and scored.

“The first one is a mistake in the corner of the park, they’ve crossed it too easily and the lad gets on top of Neil Austin to head it in – a preventable goal.

“The second one, Dominic (Scott) is a young keeper who has done exceptionally well and is learning, but he knows he probably should have saved it.

“And the third one, well that’s just a mistake by Peter with a short backpass.

“But the goals were suicide and that’s disappointing because, in the end, the scoreline was harsh.

“It’s okay boys coming in afterwards like they did and saying ‘oh sorry, another mistake’ – we’ve got to stop them.

“You’ve got to say this just isn’t going to happen in the first place.”

Cooper, though, feels the performance was much improved on the showing during the 2-0 defeat to Telstar 72 hours earlier.

“We played a lot better than we did the other night,” said the 48-year-old.

“We asked them to get more crosses in the box and they did that.

“There were some good deliveries.

“We had some good chances as well – Peter Hartley, Tony Sweeney and Andy Monkhouse – they all came close to scoring.

“So I was pleased with some aspects and I think this was a big improvement on Sunday.

“But I still want to see better quality and the lads know that.

“It’s been a good trip, though, and we’ll pick things back up again and move on when we get home.”