NEALE Cooper's demeanour come 5pm on Saturday said it all.

Gone was the beaming smile and gushing praise that followed two memorable wins in five memorable days in the history of Hartlepool United.

It takes something out of the ordinary to knock the stuffing out of the bubbly Cooper and this ordinary show left him deflated. But expect him to be inflated and full of beans tomorrow night when WBA visit Victoria Park.

Cooper's hopes of going top of Division Two on Saturday had gone. A win at Brentford wouldn't have been enough to move into pole position, Port Vale's win at Bristol City was enough to keep Brian Horton's side there.

But it wasn't Vale's which was getting Cooper down, it was the manner in which his side fell to only their second defeat of a season which promises so much and has so far delivered entertainment and pride in abundance.

And remember, Pool have dropped down the table and now sit in a paltry sixth place. Sixth in Division Two, no, it's just not good enough is it!

There's a lot worse teams than Pool in this division. Brentford are one of them, but the difference on Saturday was work ethic - the home side wanted it more and their determination was greater than Pool's.

After their only previous defeat, at Luton three weeks earlier, Cooper spoke of his players being "bullied" into submission.

The same accusation cropped up this time as well.

But Pool's players can't go crying to the teacher for help or support, the only retort is to give it back themselves and on Saturday too many of them didn't fight fire with fire.

Marco Gabbiadini, Mark Tinkler and Micky Nelson are three strong individuals not afraid to take the blows who can hand out the playground taunts themselves.

But on Saturday, a few too many of their teammates were not up to the physical side of it.

It shouldn't have been a surprise that Brentford were good at handing out the brickbats - boss Wally Downes was part of Wimbledon's original Crazy Gang - spoiling tactics, niggles and workrate in abundance.

"After the last results and performances, it was so disappointing,'' said Cooper. "I thought we prepared really well for this game but players underperformed.

"It was flat from the start and I feel they bullied us a wee bit in midfield and their defenders were strong.

"We never played the football we have been playing, the movement wasn't there and we never used the ball well in wide areas. They roughed our boys up a bit.

"I still think there are one or two positions where we still need to be stronger and can improve.

"We never got the second balls, they never bounced right for us or anything like that.

"Luck never went for us, but they worked really hard and sometimes when you put that effort it you get the luck.

"We finished strongly and started to open them up and nearly equalised. It's frustrating because we got back into the game with a good goal and the main thing we said at half-time was keep it tight and don't give anything away.

"Then so early on in the second-half, it's a simple cross and header and we are behind again.We had the urgency late on, but we must have that from the start.

"The biggest problem was that too many boys who are major players for us - I'm not naming names because they know who they are - didn't perform.''

He added: "We are not being negative about it, it's just so disappointing. We wanted to go to Brentford and win the game.''

It only took 11 minutes for Pool to fall behind - defender Ibrahima Sonko met a corner, climbed above Tinkler and planted a header across Jim Provett.

A free header summed up how out of sorts Pool were from the start. There was none of the flowing movement from the strikers which caused so many problems for Grimsby and Stockport.

Eifion Williams was again out on the right wing and it was from that side where Pool had most of their play. Twice he sent teasing balls over from the flank only for the chances to be wasted.

It could have been two goals to chase back when Sonko glanced a free header wide from close range and Provett got down low to deny Ben May.

But Poolwere level just before the break. Barron's floated free-kick from the halfway line found Gabbiadini and after he hit the bar, Tinkler reacted to prod in.

Getting the leveller should have been the perfect fillip for Pool to go in at the break; instead they came back out and conceded seconds later.

Barron was beaten too easily and when the cross came it was too easy for Tommy Wright to loft a header over Provett.

Then Provett's legs came into play, twice saving certain goals with his pegs. O'Connor raced in behind Nelson and shot low only for Provett to block.

Next he flung himself into the way of a goalbound May shot to deny a certain third.

Play swing straight to the other end and Gabbiadini created and missed a lovely chance. He tricked his way beyond three defenders and, after getting the ball out from under his feet, could poke the ball straight at keeper Smith.

Substitute McCann headed a Strachan free-kick at goal only for Smith to claw it out of the top corner.

Paul Smith the winger might have left Pool, but the name still proved an enigma on Saturday.

Result: Brentford 2, Hartlepool United 1.

Read more about Hartlepool here.