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Five-star Pools find their scoring feet
Hartlepool United 5 Bradford City 0
ONE goal all season and then five in one game. Who said the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy wasn’t up to much.
Hartlepool United went into last night’s game with Bradford seeking a lift and a boost to what has been a flat season to date.
So they ripped the League One opponents apart, scoring five for the first time in five years.
It was their biggest home win since beating MK Dons 5-0 in January 2005.
“First goal was vital,’’ said Cooper. “It gives you extra belief in what we are trying to do.
“We say it’s been coming, but it did tonight. All the basics and cornerstones – effort and application – were all there.
“First goal and we saw some young people, and old, grow.
“First 20 minutes was tight, they had tempo and it took us time to find our head. Once we did then roles and responsibilities were stuck to really well.
Nialle Rodney and Nathan Doyle battle for posession
“We created chances, lots of them, and we should have been three up at half-time.’’ Three-up at half-time was a conservative estimate from Cooper.
But they were soon banging the goals, with three in ten second-half minutes.
“To be one-up gives us a boost, something to hang onto. Then early in the second half gave us a lift and, from then on in it was how many.
“I cannot be any happier than I am tonight.
“The anxiousness is taken away by scoring. It’s hard to sit and say it’s coming, getting them to believe it is a task, but it was coming.’’ There was seven current or ex-Middlesbrough players on the pitch last night – four for Pools, three for the visitors - and, one of them, Connor Ripley suffered a torrid night.
Making his debut for the Bantams after moving on loan, he shipped five and could do nothing to stop any of the strikes and was fortunate not to concede even more.
Ripley was also beaten by one of his fellow Boro loanees – as Christian Burgess headed in – and one of his former Academy team-mates in Jon Franks.
Luke James and Andy Monkhouse formed a mobile partnership up front. James was the direct striker playing on the shoulders of the defenders Colin Cooper wants him to be, while Monkhouse roamed around with poise and purpose.
The Bantams had one header flash wide on 20 minutes and had a single shot on target all night, that coming when Pools were already four up and the game was long gone.
Centre-half Rory McArdle headed wide early on and, from then on it was the Hartlepool United attacking show as they racked up their biggest win since an FA Cup win at Gainsborough Trinity in November 2007.
The last time they scored four was in January 2012, when James scored twice against Carlisle.
He set Pools on the way last night on 24 minutes. Franks crossed from the right, Jack Compton headed back across goal and James was there to head in.
There’s something about James scoring - the last time Pools were ahead in a game was against Brentford in last season’s penultimate game and it was a finish from the teenager.
Pools had to wait until the 48th minute for their second, and could have had more before that as James ran defender Rory McArdle ragged.
This time, Franks had the chance to play in the unmarked striker, but instead fired at goal. The shot was blocked and he picked up the rebound, picked his spot and drilled across Ripley.
Burgess headed in a Compton free-kick, before the left-winger made it four for two goals in three minutes.
James was hacked down in the area and Compton’s penalty arced into the keeper’s top left corner.
Pools hadn’t scored five since 2008, when they saw off Huddersfield at Victoria Park. The Bantams hadn’t conceded five since their Capital One Cup final defeat to Swansea. In different surroundings to Wembley they managed to do the same last night.
And it wasn’t a bad goal from a Pools point of view. Franks, direct and positive again, crossed and substitute Nialle Rodney – a former Bradford player – acrobatically volleyed in with his back to goal.
Goals: James (24, 1-0); Franks (48, 2-0); Burgess (56, 3-0); Compton pen (58, 4-0); Rodney (88, 5-0)
Bookings: Burgess (22, foul); McArdle (34, foul); Baldwin (72, foul)
Referee: Richard Clark (Morpeth) 6
HARTLEPOOL UNITED (4-4-2): Flinders 6; Duckworth 7, Baldwin 7, Burgess 6, Austin 6; Franks 8, Walker 6 (Walton 68, 6), Dolan 6, Compton 7 (Poole 76); Monkhouse 8, James 8 (Rodney 68, 6). Subs (not used): Rafferty (gk), Collins.
BRADFORD CITY (4-5-1): Ripley 3; Darby 4, Taylor 5, McArdle 3 (Connell 46, 4), Meredith 4 (McHugh 46, 4); De Vita 3, Kennedy 5, Doyle 5, Ravenhill 5, Yeates 4; Thompson 4 (Reid 75). Subs (not used): McLaughlin (gk), Wells.
MAN OF THE MATCH: LUKE James – constant menace, like he can be, and caused the visiting back four nightmares
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