Hartlepool Utd looking for a great result at Exeter City

Colin Cooper on the side line against Sheffield United. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper on the side line against Sheffield United. Picture by FRANK REID

HARTLEPOOL United are geared up and ready to turn a good week into a truly great week by getting a result at Exeter City.

Belief is up at Victoria Park after a sensational 4-1 win at Mansfield Town and a 1-0 Johnstone’s Paint Trophy upset at Sheffield United.

Pools though now face a hard assignment – a trip to third-placed Exeter who are going into the game on a high after a Devon derby demolition of Plymouth last Saturday.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it?

It’s the scenario which faced Pools who went to then third-placed Mansfield last Saturday seven days after the Stags had beaten top-of-the-table Chesterfield, their bitter local rivals.

Pools went into the trip to Field Mill last Saturday with expectation levels low, yet came away with as good an away win as you will see.

Now confidence is probably as high as it has been in Cooper’s short reign.

The 46-year-old will remind his players that over-confidence could be as big an enemy tomorrow as Exeter.

“I spoke before the Sheffield United game about something I learned when I was a player,” Cooper told SportMail.

“There is under-confidence at one end of the scale and complacency at the other end.

“It’s about where you fit in between.

“If you are too close to complacency, you are in trouble.

“There is no reason for us to be anywhere near the under-confidence end, we’ve just had two

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decent performances and results in the last two.

“You should be feeling good but not over-confident.

“If you are over-confident you get a smack up the backside without a shadow of a doubt.

“It’s mine and Craig’s job to manage the players to feel good, to feel confident so they can go out on the pitch and feel as though they can get a result.

“But not go on the field and think we just have to turn up.”

However, it’s a situation Cooper is happy to manage.

Clearly having players with belief running through their veins is a considerably better scenario than having a squad wracked with self-doubt and anxiety.

“When you get results you feel better about yourselves,” he said.

“If you are a striker and you score a goal, you feel better about yourself.

“If you are a defender and you make a header, a block and keep a clean sheet, you feel better about yourself.

“If you are a midfield player and you tackle or intercept or make a good pass, you feel better about yourself.

“They should be feeling good about themselves.”

Exeter are in great form, winning three out of their last four, the highlight being their 3-1 romp against Plymouth, scoring three second-half goals.

Cooper is well aware of the degree of difficulty a trip to Paul Tisdale’s in-form Grecians brings.

But he does not want to see Pools drop below the performance levels they have produced over the last two away days.

“Exeter are, justifiably, in the higher echelons of League Two because of the way they have played and the results they’ve got,” he said.

“We have a challenge at the end of a hard week.

“It would not be good of us if we went down there and didn’t give a good account of ourselves.

“It’s been a really good week so far, it’s our job to try to top that off and go there and be difficult to beat and see what happens.

“We battered Mansfield and won deservedly.

“Tuesday was a bit different. David Weir is trying to get Sheff United to play a possession game and I thought our discipline and shape was very good

“Every time we nicked the ball we looked a threat on the counter-attack. We have that capability.

“Against Exeter it will be a similar thing, Paul has got them playing some nice football and getting good results – their home form is fantastic.

“It’s another challenge in front of us.

“And people can keep saying we’ll get beaten because on our day I think we are capable of more than matching anyone in this division.”