THE last time Colin Cooper saw such a passionate celebration from Marlon Harewood his team was on the receiving end.
Back in 2006, Cooper was at Middlesbrough, when they were beaten in the FA Cup semi-final by a late Harewood finish.
The striker raced away, face and muscles bulging, after breaking Boro hearts at Villa Park. Eight years later, the passion still burns within.
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That day at Villa Park saw Alan Pardew make an absolute fool of himself on the touchline – some things never change – although then he carried out a stupid celebratory dance, failing to use his head rather than using it.
It’s taken Harewood nine games to get off the mark for Pools, but how he enjoyed it.
So too did the crowd, teammates and manager.
Two goals to the good, Luke James dropped short to get the ball down, with a defender breathing down his neck, but his touch bought control and, as Harewood broke off to his left, James laid the ball into his path.
He skipped by Krystian Pearce from halfway and headed for goal. Victoria Park held its collective breath.
Rather than pass to the unmarked Jack Barmby for a tap in, Harewood drew the goalkeeper and poked the ball through Michael Poke’s legs.
“The Marlon Harewood who scored in an FA Cup semi-final for West Ham against Middlesbrough at Villa Park was an angry man and he put defenders under pressure,’’ reflected Cooper.
“This performance was a lot, lot better for us and he scored, which I’m very pleased about.
“As soon as he was clear Marlon was always going to score. I was sure of it going in when he was one on one and that’s the extra quality Marlon has.
“Most pleasing thing is he has got off the mark. Each week he’s been saying he wants to get a goal for me. I want him to get a goal for himself.
The response he got as he came off the pitch was great and he gives them something to cling on to and look up to.
“I don’t care if he is 34. I was as fit as ever aged 36 so it’s what you do and Marlon is still a wee bit short.
“But he is coming and the chat we had was about getting some energy and aggression.’’ Cooper’s pep talk with Harewood seems to have done the trick. He has been taking the physical strain away from Luke James, but not been the powerhouse he can be.
Jack Barmby opens the scoring for Pools, curling home a powerful left-foot shot
This week, rather than show his sheer frustration when he was substituted – as he did in the previous game – he left in the closing stages to a standing ovation.
“We hope that’s the first goal of many,’’ added Cooper.
“If I’m coming off the pitch ten minutes from time to that kind of ovation it’s going to make me feel good.
“One or two people have questioned what he is giving us so far, longer term he will give us an awful lot.
“We had a nice sit down on Friday and I reminded him of the conversation we had about bringing him here. I want him fit, strong, aggressive and putting defenders under pressure.
“He did that and more and the reward is the goal.’’ Perhaps 3-0 did flatter Pools a bit as the visitors did enjoy their share of possession.
But they rarely looked like scoring, their only real chance came with Pools 1-0 up. Enoch Showumni broke away on the right – the one time he broke out of lumbering mode – and passed to Elliott Benyon. He fired towards the top corner but Flinders kept it out.
Pools were ahead thanks to another Jack Barmby peach.
The ball dropped to him in the area and, with his back to goal, he turned, switched on to his left foot, and picked out the top corner in style.
Number two came when Barmby hit, or mishit, a corner into the area and James made a run to the near post and flicked his header across goal and into the net.
Barmby and Luke James celebrate
With the Gulls opting against following the basic rule of positioning men on the posts for set-pieces, it was something Pools were happy to exploit.
“I spoke with Luke and we want someone to make a movement towards the ball incase the corner isn’t hit how it’s supposed to be,’’ said Cooper.
“Jack would be honest and admit he scuffed it, but because of Luke’s movement and that Torquay don’t put a man on the posts then the ball has crept through and sneaked in at the back post.
“It’s credit to him. He smiled and acknowledged me after scoring, but it came because of what he did.’’