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Cooper full of praise for his experienced players after thumping JPT win
BREAKING their scoring drought and bagging five goals captured the headlines, but for Colin Cooper satisfaction came from a number of other factors.
While Pools thumped Bradford 5-0 in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, with five different goalscorers, they also kept a clean sheet.
Since conceding three at Nottingham Forest in the Capital One Cup, Pools have conceded just two goals in five games.
As a former England centre-half, Cooper takes pride from that record.
He said: “It’s the cornerstone – and we have been fortunate at times. Saturday at Torquay fro instance, Neil (Austin) threw himself in the way of a shot in the first minute. Fortunate, or brave?
“But on Tuesday a couple of headers flashed across goal and Scott made a couple of saves – all those things are really important.
“The cornerstones are discpline, organisation, being hard to beat. This group of players, if they can keep a clean sheet, will win more than they lose.
“So far they’ve not had the rewards – they got it on Tuesday, but that’s it, it’s gone now and it’s about Wycombe on Saturday, a different test.
“It’s my job to keep our boys bubbling, but making sure they don’t get over-complacent and I’m sure they won’t be.’’ Austin has taken on the captaincy since Antony Sweeney was injured and, in addition to the responsibility, he has almost moved to left-back from right in a new-look defensive unit.
With Michael Duckworth making a good impression since being signed from Bradford Park Avenue at right-back, Austin’s shift of flanks has worked, with Cooper full of praise for the experienced head in the back four.
“I think Neil seems more comfortable on the left,’’ he reflected. “Even in training he will shift things onto his left. He can be comfortable playing centre-back as well.
“His performances at left back have been of a very high standard and it could be something with him that he actually relishes the captaincy.
“It might be a little catalyst for him, as not only is he a fantastic pro, he does everything right – and I mean everything to the nth degree to his credit.
“His performances are following his professionalism at the moment, and are of a very high standard.
“He is a very good pro – I’ve not seen many better. He prepares his own food and diet, rest, recovery, talking to younger players, I have to say he is a credit.’’ The first-team squad will be back in for training today ahead of Saturday’s home game with Wycombe and Cooper’s job is to make sure Tuesday’s performance is built on.
“This has to be the start of something,’’ he said. “But it’s gone now, it’s lovely but it’s gone. Dwell on things at your peril and they will need knocking down a peg or two on Thursday and Friday, but in a funny sort of way.
“The thing that gets you a foothold is being hard to beat and disciplined, and then allowing the talent we genuinely have to flourish.
“It happened once we got two-goals up. First goal, and then we had chances for a second and we felt the second would give us the chance to flourish.
“You could see them grow from it and we have a lot of young players and to see them flourish is encouraging as they have technical ability.
“Someone like Andy (Monkhouse) and Neil and Scotty (Flinders) – three senior members of the team. Scott made saves, Neil’s performance was again of a high standard and Andy was outstanding with his link-up play.
“So they have helped the younger players, and the younger players have that energy and enthusiasm. And as long as they want to learn and get better every day, I will use the older players in that way because they have an awful lot to offer.
“They help them and they gave the younger players a foothold.’’
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