NEALE Cooper and Martin Allen had some right slugfests in a previous life - and the Hartlepool United boss is expecting similar this afternoon.

During his first spell at Victoria Park, Cooper and Allen went head to head six times in 15 months as Pools regularly met Brentford.

Allen got the upper hand, winning four times, Pools just the once as well with an FA Cup draw at Griffin Park.

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The pair are similar touchline characters - passionate and animated in equal measures. Their rivalry resumes this afternoon when Pools meet Notts County at Victoria Park.

"Martin Allen is a character, we had a few matches when he was at Brentford and I get on very well with him, I like him and got to know him well,'' reflected Cooper. "He's a winner, similar as players we were too and he's a character for the game, a good one at that.

"He will have them fired up, but we are asking for more of the same.

"We had some real good battles in the past, high-tempo football and I'm sure it will be the same this time.

"I wasn't sure about him when I first met him, but he's great. I always have a chat with him, he's a real football man, very passionate and I like that.

"His team are pushing as well, a hard game for us, but we will be ready.''

Notts thumped Pools 3-0 at Meadow Lane in October, the start of a run that led to Mick Wadsworth losing his job and being replaced by Cooper.

On Tuesday, Pools lost for the second time since Cooper returned, going down 1-0 to a limited Preston side.

The Pools boss was fuming after the game, admitting at the time he was ''raging'' at the manner of the loss.

Pools dominated the first-half, but squandered too many chances and paid the price as the home side scored with their first and only shot of note.

Cooper lost his temper in front of his players for the first time and admits his reaction took it out of him later.

"I was angry on Tuesday and was physically tired by how I reacted,'' he admitted. "It wasn't directed angrily at the players, but it was down to the outcome. It was the first time I'd been like that since I was last here.

"Ritchie (Humphreys) and Micky (Barron) had warned the players that there is that side to my character, I'm generally a happy go lucky man, but when needed.

"I couldn't believe we didn't win that, I felt for the players the other night. I surprised a few of them with my reaction, I was hurt after the game and took a wee bit of time to myself.''

He added: "They have gave me so much effort in the last two months, did so again the other night, but you have to put the ball in the net to win games and we didn't do it.

"They've got to take responsibility and it wasn't directed at anyone, but a group thing. Even at the end we had a chance for a point and didn't take it.

"It was quite tiring ranting and raving. I was so disappointed to lose and felt it after the game, but at half-time and during it was all encouragement.

"But after the game was finished, it was different. It wasn't anger at a group of players who hadn't played well, but who hadn't got what they deserved.

"I can be like that and the players were warned, but it was frustration of their effort not coming to anything. First-half, we were like the home team and people have said that, apart from their manager.

"I'm a passionate person and couldn't laugh and joke because we lost the game in a manner we shouldn't.''

Pools will again be without James Poole today. But there is some progress, even if it's only a start on the road to recovery from a hamstring strain.

"James wasn't allowed to do anything for a few days after his injection and started light work at the start of the week,'' said Cooper.

"It's very frustrating for everyone. It's been almost eight weeks now, two months out of the season for a minor thing,.

"He's been a missing link for us, I know what he is capable of, but it's a brutal profession.''