NEALE Cooper is demanding a return of the Hartlepool United mean machine.

Pool have conceded three times in each of their last two away games, first at Swindon and now at Oldham.

And Cooper wants his backline to adapt the strong-arm tactics which brought success last season.

"That wasn't like the normal way we defend,'' he fumed. "We weren't strong enough in the middle and it cost us.

"Micky Nelson was off the pace - I took him off because it wasn't good enough.

"He was so strong in there last year and I've said to them that the central defensive partnership was one of the reasons why we did so well last year.

"But people aren't clearing their lines properly. We never made it hard for their strikers - Nelse (Micky Nelson) was barged off the ball too easily for the first goal. And at the other end, our strikers never had it easy against their defenders.

"We were off the pace and that wasn't like us. I don't think there is enough competition for the centre-half positions at the club and maybe because there is no pressure a touch of complacency can creep in because they think they can play every week no matter what.

"We have to be more ruthless at the back and get back to the way we were doing things last season."

Cooper gave David Foley, the club's youngest ever player at 16 years and 105 days when he appeared against Port Vale as a substitute a little over a year ago, his first start alongside Adam Boyd. But the pair got little change from Will Haining and Mark Arber and Cooper said: "At the other end of the park, we were bullied out of it.

"We didn't win much up front, but hitting long balls up there was never going to help us. The ball had to be played in the channels for the strikers to try and turn the defenders, but it never happened.

"Our away form last season was tremendous and we have to get back to it. Losing away from home like this, just puts that little bit more pressure on your home games."

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