PAIRFECT: Colin Cooper hails strike duo of Luke James and Andy Monkhouse

Luke James scores the opening goal during the game against Bradford City. Picture by FRANK REID
Luke James scores the opening goal during the game against Bradford City. Picture by FRANK REID

COLIN Cooper believes that he may have hit upon his “perfect” strike pairing in the form of Luke James and Andy Monkhouse.

The attacking duo were Pools’ star men during last night’s 5-0 humbling of League One Bradford City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy First Round.

It was 18-year-old James who brought closure on a six-hour goal famine with a close-range header midway through the first half before second-half strikes from Jon Franks, Christian Burgess, Jack Compton and Nialle Rodney capped a memorable night at Victoria Park.

Monkhouse, 32, was confirmed as a deserving recipient of man-of-the-match honours shortly before full-time, sidekick James his nearest rival for the prize.

But Cooper could not split the pair when he spoke to SportMail today, confirming that they will keep their place for Saturday’s visit of Wycombe Wanderers.

“Luke, allied with Andy Monkhouse, was perfect - the pair of them were very, very good,” said the 46-year-old, who celebrated his first victory in the Pools hotseat.

“We’ve been working very hard with Luke – we know what he has.

“I have spoken to him a lot about the runs he makes.

“That goal lifted him and all of a sudden he was playing on the shoulder of the defenders and was really threatening.

“Andy complimented that immensely with his flicks and hold-up play and they looked a really good pair.

“That doesn’t mean we will stop looking to make ourselves better.

“But I believe that Andy will score goals when he gets into those positions inside the box.

“As for Luke, he had usual his enthusiasm and work-rate but he also scored a goal and won a penalty.

“It’s going to be difficult to do anything different (on Saturday) with them two doing what they did last night – I thought they were excellent.”

James’ nodded in his first-ever headed goal to get the ball rolling on 24 minutes, and Cooper believes that eased the anxiety among his men.

“The first goal was vital,” he looked back, “It gives you extra belief in what we are trying to do.

“We keep say it’s been coming and it did last night.

“All of the basics and cornerstones – effort and application – were all there.

“But the anxiousness was taken away by scoring.

“It gave us a massive boost and from there we were thinking ‘how many?’.

“I cannot be happier with that performance and every one of them deserves credit.”