Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cooper Proud of His Battlers

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Cooper Proud of His Battlers

Article excerpt

Byline: Adam Steel And Andrew Wilkinson

Neale Cooper was proud of his Hartlepool team after seeing them push Crystal Palace close in the Carling Cup last night.

Pool took the lead at Selhurst Park before losing 2-1 to the Premiership newcomers in extra time.

"I'm disappointed with the result but certainly not the performance," said Cooper.

"The lads were very tired in the dressing room afterwards because they gave their all and worked ever so hard against a very good side.

"Iain Dowie said to me he was very impressed with how we played and I'm very proud of the way we went about the game.

"Jim Provett made two or three wonderful saves, but unfortunately it just wasn't to be on the night."

Pool went in front on 70 minutes when last season's top scorer, Eifion Williams, knocked in the rebound after reserve keeper Gabor Kiraly had parried a Michael Nelson shot.

Antony Sweeney then had two glorious chances to win the second round game.

First reserve goalkeeper Gabor Kiraly palmed his close-range shot against the underside of the crossbar.

Then the Stockton-born midfielder scuffed an effort straight at Kiraly in a one-on-one situation.

Pool were made to pay ten minutes from time when veteran striker Dougie Freedman slotted the ball past Provett.

And their Cup dreams were shattered when substitute Tom Soares crashed home a Danny Granville knock-down after 110 minutes.

Cooper is expected to step up his efforts to sign Sunderland defender Ben Clark this week.

The Scotsman has already discussed the possibility of taking Clark to Victoria Park.

A loan deal would be preferred but Sunderland may be keen for a permanent move.

"It hasn't gone any further yet," said Black Cats boss Mick McCarthy.

"I think initially they were looking at a loan and I'm discussing it with Hartlepool and the player. …

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