WHAT WHADDON LUCK – Hartlepool Utd boss bemoans late defeat at Cheltenham Town

Colin Cooper gives instruction during the game against Cheltenham Town. Picture by FRANK REID
Colin Cooper gives instruction during the game against Cheltenham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

HURTING Colin Cooper didn’t feel his Hartlepool United side got what they deserved against Cheltenham Town.

Pools had defended stoically for much of the Sky Bet League Two game at Whaddon Road only for substitute Koby Arthur to snatch victory for the home side in the 90th minute.

Cooper wasn’t happy afterwards that the smallest man on the pitch had managed to head the winner.

But he felt for his side, who had showed great grit and determination at the back.

The problem was though there was far too much pressure on the back four and goalkeeper Scott Flinders for almost all of the second-half.

Pools rarely got forward themselves and when they did play the ball upfield it wasn’t being held up well enough by frontmen Charlie Wyke and Marlon Harewood, who was later subbed.

You couldn’t fault the players’ work ethic or commitment but the display again lacked real quality, especially in the final third.

Cooper said as much afterwards, but he did feel his side had done enough to secure a point.

“They gambled more and more and threw more bodies in our box and had the ammunition to get it there very quickly,” said Cooper.

“No matter how you set things up you still need to defend the 18-yard box.

“The lads are disappointed because it is the smallest man on the pitch who scores with a header and from that point, it really hurts.

“You feel like the rug has been pulled out from underneath you when that happens.

“Mark [Yates] will think that was three points well gained.

“My view on it, is we have come away from Cheltenham and have nothing when we deserve something.

“There wasn’t enough real quality from us to go and win the game but I didn’t think we deserved to lose the game.”

Cooper was frustrated with some of the decisions of referee Christopher Sarginson, with a couple of clear bookings for the home side going unpunished.

While the home side escaped without any bookings, Pools picked up their first cards of the season.

Neil Austin, Ryan Brobbel and Marlon Harewood all getting yellows.

It wasn’t long after Harewood was booked that he was subbed, to be replaced by Michael Woods.

Cooper felt the team needed an extra man in midfield and admitted Pools were struggling to hold the ball up.

“First-half we were fine and the ball was sticking and we had one or two movements off,” added Cooper.

“But the second-half the ball was coming back as quickly as it was going up and that is not only Marlon, it may be the quality of the ball up to Marlon and Charlie.

“I understand Marlon is disappointed and doesn’t want to come off as he scored a goal last week.

“I just said we needed an extra body in midfield and after a debate between me and Stephen [Pears] we felt that might be the best course of action.

“Charlie is a little bit more mobile than big Marlon and Charlie put a hell of a shift in again and did a job for the team.

“Michael came on and did well, doing the job I asked him to do and had a bit of an impact going forward.

“It was just disappointing the way the goal goes in after the shift they’d put in.”

The Pools manager said his side cannot feel sorry for themselves though.

Cooper added: “As a former defender, you do not get any consolation at all from losing after you have defended well for X amount of time.

“It was a long throw, which we had dealt with comfortably for the majority of the afternoon, and they have two or three that can launch the ball in.

“Then there is a flick and Arthur is in two or three yards of space near the six-yard box. That is what is hard to take.

“We go away disappointed but there is no point feeling sorry for ourselves.

“We get ready, get prepared and look to give our fans something to smile about next weekend.”