Hartlepool United 0 Fleetwood Town 1

Colin Cooper is planning a busy few days in front of the television – desperately trying to come up with a formula to solve a long-term problem at Hartlepool United

Hartlepool United winger Jack Compton closes down a Fleetwood defender
Hartlepool United winger Jack Compton closes down a Fleetwood defender

Colin Cooper is planning a busy few days in front of the television – desperately trying to come up with a formula to solve a long-term problem at Hartlepool United.

It’s a fundamental and elementary part of the game, but Pool just cannot score goals.

Two home games this season, two 1-0 defeats. Four games, no goals. But it’s a trait stretching back over the last few seasons and it’s Cooper’s job to find an answer.

Saturday’s defeat to Fleetwood was the sort of story Victoria Park has staged all too often. A promising start, concede a goal, chase the game, and fail to find a breakthrough.

Cooper said: “I’d like to think people can see what we are trying to do. It’s not quite there, and we have to keep working at that ingredient – the right movement, timing, gamble, run or what it is.

“It’s my and Craig’s (Hignett) job to find it – that’s what I’ll be doing over the next few days.

“I’ll be into the DVD at the nth degree to see why it’s not falling for us and we have to find why. Delivery, cross, pass? There’s a reason why.

“Everyone is frustrated. We need to turn it around.

“That first goal is key. You talk about going in off someone’s backside and we did enough for that to happen – they scored one, bundled in from close range – that’s the difference right now. Are we trying to score the perfect goal?

“It’s my job to find the answer why.’’

Pool’s start was as bright and energetic as they have managed in a long time. With two debutants in the side in midfielder Matty Dolan and right-back Michael Duckworth – allied with the three other new faces Cooper has introduced – they had a fresh look about them.

Jack Compton crossed for Steve Howard and his goalbound header was hooked off the line by defender Mark Roberts. Dolan twice fired at goal from distance, Pools put plenty of balls in the area.

But, after conceding, the closest they got to netting was when Howard’s late angled header was saved.

The killer goal came on 15 minutes when a low shot was pushed out by Scott Flinders into the part of Jeff Hughes to knock in. It was precisely the sort of scrappy goal Pool don’t score – something not lost on Cooper.

“They are there, maybe we are trying for the perfect goal and not gambling in the box enough,’’ added Cooper.

“Big Stevie does what he does and he’s had one saved and one cleared off the line, when that ball comes in the box he is making contact with it.

“Everyone else has to gamble off that and anticipate it.

“In the first half in particular I didn’t think there was enough gambling, and that’s why we had four centre-forwards on the pitch at the end.’’

HARTLEPOOL: Flinders, Duckworth, Baldwin, Burgess, Austin, Walker, Walton (James 87), Dolan, Compton (Rodney 75), Poole (Monkhouse 61), Howard. Subs (not used): Collins, Franks, Rafferty, Holden. Booked: Baldwin, Walton, Monkhouse.

FLEETWOOD TOWN: Davies, Hogan, Roberts, Pond, Jordan, Brown (Ryan Crowther 78), Murdoch, Hughes, Evans (Howell 86), Sarcevic, Ball (Matt 82). Subs (not used): Parkin, McLaughlin, Blair, Lucas.

Booked: Hughes. Goal: Hughes 16.

Ref: Steven Rushton (Staffordshire) Att: 3,297

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