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Pools prepare for a 'defining' game at Bury
HARTLEPOOL United have not won in 11 games, tonight's opponents Bury go into the game without a victory in 17.
Two points separate second bottom and bottom in League One ahead of the Gigg Lane slugfest.
It's a game Pools boss Neale Cooper described as 'defining'. Losing is not an option.
But, with confidence low in the Pools camp, it won't be easy. Bury, under new boss Kevin Blackwell, have conceded late goals in their last two games to cost them four points but since his appointment, the Shakers have yet to turn a corner.
Pools won 2-1 at Gigg Lane last season in February, but have won only three games since.
They were beaten at home against Crawley at the weekend and Cooper said: "You could sense what a goal would do for everyone - players and crowd. The crowd had a go at me and that's fine. They have every right to slaughter us, but they supported us and the players have to realise that.
"They gave us great backing and we have to give them something back and soon.
"We need to lift ourselves and who motivates the motivator? It's hard. But there's no atmosphere in training where people are down - I pick myself up every day. We pick the lads up, but it's about time the players gave everyone else a lift.''
After the Victoria Park loss on Saturday, Cooper admitted: "Basic, simple errors cost us,'' he admitted. "We gave the ball back to Crawley at the weekend under no pressure. Quality from certain players isn't good enough.
"Second-half we tried to change it, but what's the options - so many of them are having a hard time.
"And it's key players as well. But Sam [Collins] came in and did really well at the back, Neil Austin superb.
"Jonny Franks isn't having a good time of it. It's a confidence thing with a lot of them and if they want to be driving about in big, fancy cars they need to go and perform.
"Ryan [Noble] comes off again and he wasn't happy, but he hasn't been playing well. I understand if he's not happy, but he doesn't come off if he's playing well.
"Simon [Walton] was better, but a bit too far off them in the first half. Sweens grafts, but it's in need of quality overall.
"We gave the ball away too much, it's confidence and we are panicky on the ball. But we can't pass the ball and changed it to be more direct and we were more of a threat.''
Cooper will give Nathan Luscome a start tonight - his first game from the off since January, when the manager took charge of his first game.
"Nathan did alright when he came on, showed some nice touches and he won't hide from possession,'' said Cooper. "He wants to get on the ball and we need players like that right now.
"We had one or two chances near the end, but it was the back boys who were our best players when the front boys have to do the damage.''
Defender Jack Baldwin was again the pick of Pools' outfield players on Saturday. He's likely to be partnered at the back tonight by Sam Collins and he said: "It will be tough but we need three points on Tuesday to make sure we're still within reach of getting out of this.
"If we get that one then we can get a bit of momentum and spirits will lift.
"I feel like I'm a local lad now and it hurts - I hate losing.
"The sooner we get out of this the happier I'll be.''