"I thought we were much better with the ball" - Cooper praises improved performance in Town's 2-1 win over Hartlepool

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Assistant manager Andy Cooper praised the togetherness of the team after FC Halifax Town beat Hartlepool 2-1 at The Shay.

Goals from Max Wright and Adam Senior, either side of ex-Town man Mani Dieseruvwe's equaliser, made it four wins in a row for The Shaymen, who are now sixth in the National League.

"Pleasing to get the win," Cooper told the Courier, "pleased with the performance as well, especially first-half, I thought we were much better with the ball, much more on the front-foot, created some good chances and were able to get the goal.

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"Really disappointed, similar to Saturday really, to concede from the set-piece.

Andy CooperAndy Cooper
Andy Cooper

"Later on in the game we were able to defend those corners much better, but it was disappointing, off the second phase, to concede from the corner.

"We knew at half-time they'd come out firing but we got a foothold of the game again and created multiple opportunities and should have been out of sight before those kind of moments that can come to bite you if you don't extend your lead.

"They start to throw on more bodies, change their shape and be more of an attacking threat, but to a man we've had to be resolute without the ball and defend our own box and our own half of the pitch more than we'd like, capped off with some great saves from Sam, which is what he does best.

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"But the pleasing aspect is the work-rate, the togetherness and the energy without the ball, when we had to defend for long spells in that last 15 minutes.

"But I did think we had enough going into that last 15 minutes to be out of sight, which is frustrating that we didn't get the game put to bed earlier and left ourselves vulnerable because it only takes one moment for it to change from three points to one."

After an unconvincing win against Kidderminster, Town were very good value for the win against Hartlepool, playing some vibrant attacking football and creating several chances.

"Because of the way they play, we went more high press against them right from the start, we worked on a shape and a way of trying to win the ball back high and trapping them in certain areas of the pitch," Cooper said.

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"So the energy from the front two, with Flo Hoti behind, started that but when you've also got the legs of Jack Hunter and Kane behind it, we were able to turn the ball over a lot and win the ball back.

"That then sets us on the front-foot, able to get higher up the pitch quicker and the you bring your wing-backs into play.

"It was a clear plan of being patient but trying to work the ball into areas where we felt we could win it back while they were out of shape and out of balance and I thought we did it really well, we just need to be a bit more clinical with our opportunities.

"We got a number of set-pieces in the first-half which we were disappointed we didn't trouble the keeper on, and we were able to put that right, with a few strong words at half-time, with one in the second-half."

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Cooper felt Town's performance showed a growing confidence among the players.

"If they go after a game-plan, and they believe in it and the whole squad are on board with what we're trying to do and they get belief and they can see success, it gets momentum and it builds results," he said.

"Results build confidence. Performances do as well but ultimately what the lads are focusing on is that result.

"We knew that we needed to stop their direct play onto Mani as early as possible, so rather than dealing with it as it lands and getting the back three around it and getting bodies close and tight like we did, we tried to stop it at source higher up by spoiling their more direct balls, trying not to give away cheap fouls in their half so they'd launch the ball.

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"And once we got a foothold in the game, confidence grows and I think you could see it.

"We were a bit more clinical in our passing, it was a bit more crisp and firm, there was more runners getting forward, so there was definitely more threat in the attacking third than we've had recently.

"I felt we were probably good value to have scored more."

Cooper also felt Town looked more of an attacking threat with two central strikers, with Aaron Cosgrave and Milli Alli once again partnered in attack. .

"I think it gives more of a threat when we have the ball, definitely, with the pace Aaron has to run off the shoulder and Milli has the opportunity to come and receive it and spin and drive at players," Cooper said.

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"And then Flo picks up the little pockets, I think that was a good combination.

"Without the ball, they're fundamental as well, to go and press and make sure we can win it back in a shape where we're organised and we don't get played through.

"It fit the game plan and the style we wanted for today and Saturday.

"We're definitely more of an attacking threat with the lads up there, but also being able to get higher up the pitch and the support from the midfielders helped as well because we're able to keep the attacks going for longer rather than the ball coming straight back and not letting our defenders have a breather."

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The Shaymen are now one of the National League's in-form sides, with four straight wins.

"It's pleasing, it's a good run of form. As a staff, to get the performance as well," Cooper said.

"I think the game had a bit of everything, there were moments where we were really dominant and on top and we looked like we should capitalise and score a couple more.

"But then we had the backs against the wall, the last ditch defending, the blocks, the great saves from Sam, the organisation behind the ball at corners.

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"So all in all, that's the really pleasing element, that it's a team performance.

"To a man, they've got to take credit. Everyone really had a good shift."

When asked by the Courier why manager Chris Millington hadn't appeared for a post-match interview for the second game running, Cooper said: "He's concentrating on football matters and trying not to get distracted by any peripheral things around what his main job is."