Colin Cooper has urged Hartlepool United to get back on the front foot as they aim to stay on the coat-tails of the League Two play-off pack.
Pool fought back from a goal down to gain a creditable away point at leaders Chesterfield on Boxing Day, but it was again a case of Cooper’s team having to rescue themselves after conceding a “soft” goal.
That they were able to do so gave the Pool boss real confidence moving forward, but he is desperate for them to start scoring first – because he thinks they are very close to rediscovering the winning formula.
They take on Morecambe tomorrow hoping to improve on a mid-table position which sees them just as close to the play-offs as they are to the relegation fight.
Morecambe sit just outside the play-off places and Cooper believes his team can prove their mettle, if they just avoid conceding first.
He said of his team’s promotion aspirations: “I don’t think we’re a million miles away at the moment but we’re not quite there yet.
“I said to the group after the Chesterfield game if we show the same bravery and the same intensity as we did in that game we’re not far off.
“We know we need to improve and we all agreed it was a soft goal to concede, but the game could have gone either way, we could have won it. That was pleasing from my point of view but we need to improve and we know Morecambe will be another really tough game for us.
“We need to make sure we’re on the coat-tails of those clubs involved in the promotion.
“To do that we’re going to have to go on a run of results because we’re not a threat to the leaders at the moment.
“We need to get our noses in front in games. I think that’s the short-fall at the moment.
“We have the belief, we’re playing nice stuff but the extra confidence we will get from getting our noses in front rather than having to fight back might make all the difference.
“I also have to point out we’re unbeaten in our last four.
“Draws are not a lot of good in our division but we could be four points worse off if we hadn’t shown the fight we’ve shown.
“We’re still on the periphery of it and we’re not threatening – but we just need to go on a little run.”
Pool will be missing experienced hand Andy Monkhouse after he was sent off at Chesterfield.
Cooper has warned him it is a chance for another fringe man to make a place in the starting line-up his own.
He added: “Andy has held his hands up in the dressing room and he was very apologetic.
“That was the right thing for him to do and I felt even with 10 men in that game we pushed on and played very nice stuff. We’re without Andy now but I don’t think the squad will be stretched unless we lose another two or three in the next two games.
“We have a young squad and they are enthusiastic and I firmly believe that there are players in there who are good enough to do a job.
“Andy has been very, very good for me but if someone steps in and puts a good performance in then he will find it very difficult to get back in for the next game.
“That is the sacrifice you make by taking yourself out of the picture like Andy has done here.
“Overall we’ll be OK. We have good young players who can come in and do a job for us.
“Then January will come and myself and Craig Hignett might have the chance to do something to try and help the rest of the squad out.”
Cooper also hopes to tie up extensions to the loan deals for Christian Burgess and Matthew Dolan after revealing an agreement has been arranged in principle.
He said: “I have had that meeting and it’s hopefully a case of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.
“We have agreed in principle and now it’s just a case of agreeing the exact terms and conditions.”