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Dagenham v Hartlepool preview
RESULTS may have been of an inconsistent nature of late, signs to give Hartlepool United boss Colin Cooper plenty of optimism for the future.
Pools are at Dagenham today on the back of a win, a defeat and a draw in their last three games; a sequence which sums up their recent experiences.
“I don’t think we are a million miles away from being a decent young side. But with that sometimes you get a Wimbledon type game, where we batter them and lose,’’ he said.
“We were in front and then if you look at their first goal from that night, it’s avoidable and shouldn’t happen.
“On the back of it you get a York where it could have gone either way, but it went for us. Scunthorpe we created more on the day. We have to be more positive than negative and keep the back door closed.’’
In recent seasons Pools have had a terrible tendency to fold and collapse under pressure. Defeats when they conceded four and even five goals were too frequent.
But, while Pools started 2014 with successive 3-0 home reverses, Cooper hasn’t been disheartened.
“People might see if differently, but I look around at other fixtures and other clubs and our team hasn’t been battered by anybody,’’ he insisted.
“Even the 3-0s with Rochdale and Bury we haven’t been battered, but we have given other teams a battering.
“We do have an edge where we don’t crumble anymore. Some may disagree. I have to say that we have been on the brink, but we haven’t crumbled.’’
“To have some impetus we need that stubborn edge engrained within the group. We have to be hard to beat.
“There’s been a couple of times and I’ve looked at Higgy and wondered…. I’ve played in teams that have been battered five, six and seven. I got beat seven by Blackburn for Forest the year after they won the title and there’s nothing you can do about it sometimes.
“But for me there’s things not far off from being a good side.’’
And Cooper was quick to repeat the mantra of his opening press conference when he was appointed Pools boss in May; make sure in League Two you do your jobs in each penalty area.
“People keep telling me it’s about what you do in your 18-yard box and their 18-yard box,’’ he said.
“We will get opportunities, but have to make sure we are switched on against Dagenham’s two nippy wide men and two strikers.
“It’s an expansive game, and they were one of the better footballing teams we’ve faced – Wimbledon, Dagenham, Rochadale, Scunthorpe, Oxford. Three of them are doing alright.
“But we go there with confidence and belief to get something.’’
Pools could be without Neil Austin today, but have Jordan Richards available after suspension.
The Daggers enjoyed victory at Rochdale last week.
Cooper added: “We’ve had a run where we felt we could have had nine points out of nine but we ended up with four.
“We’ll go to Dagenham confident we can give them a good game and I’m sure Wayne [Burnett] will be looking forward to trying to maintain their impetus after their success at Rochdale last week.
“If we can stay solid, Wayne will know we are a threat. Having watched their game, it was the perfect away performance.
“Rochdale will be wondering how on earth they did not win and rightly so, but the Dagenham keeper has made some good saves.
“Rhys Murphy is a potent threat in this league. We had our eye on him in the sumer but he wanted to stay down south
“Rhys is an old fashioned centre forward and comes to life in and around the 18-yard box so we’ll have to be very careful.
They play 4-4-2 and have two out and out wingers so we need to look at the threat they might bring and try to counter them.’’