Final Score: Nottingham Forest 3 Hartlepool United 1

TWO games, two defeats and it’s hardly been the best of starts to managerial life for Colin Cooper.

But if the new Hartlepool United boss was downbeat and disappointed after Saturday’s Rochdale defeat, he was far more positive last night.

Forest were expected to win, and they did with ease, but they looked a more organised and solid side than at the weekend, with the individual mistakes that littered the Rochdale display put to bed.

Now all focus is on Saturday’s first home game of the season, when Southend visit Victoria Park.

“Forest are a good footballing side and the lesson against a team like that is the team shape becomes very important,’’ reflected Cooper.

“Forest passed it well and their first goal came from good passing and an instant shot.

They have good technical footballers who will try and pull you out of shape. They dominated possession and the idea was to keep our shape, keep disciplined and catch them on the counter attack.

“It’s difficult as you get anxious, frustrated and then good players make the most of it.

“The first and third goals were clever and well-worked.’’ He added: “It’s important to keep the ball alive when the ball is in the box and we got our rewards.

“This is a proper football stadium, a proper pitch against proper players. The young players in our squad should soak up this sort of experience and all of them acquitted themselves well.’’ For the most of it, the game was a straight-forward affair for Forest.

Widely tipped and fully expected to be it the promotion mix come the end of the Championship season, Forest brushed Pools aside and kept them at arm’s length.

While Middlesbrough were being dumped out of the competition by League Two opposition, there was no such shock at the City Ground.

Pools started the season terribly at the weekend, losing at Rochdale.

But Cooper will take some heart from this performance.

They defended better and more solidly than at Spotland and, while they didn’t really trouble the Forest keeper – he made only two saves – overall it was an improved display.

Cooper started with Darren Holden at left-back in place of Peter Hartley, while Simon Walton came into midfield and Luke James started up front, with Andy Monkhouse and Sam Collins on the bench.

One of the other new recruits to the squad, midfielder Bradley Walker, again started and 90 minutes against a Championship side won’t have done his development any harm – and again he can take pride from his performance.

He got Pools’ first shot off on six minutes, although after that chances were rather scarce for the visitors.

His low shot from 20 yards didn’t exert Dorus de Vires and the debutant keeper wasn’t overly troubled all night.

At the other end, Pools went through two goalkeepers – with Scott Flinders forced off as a precautionary measure with a muscle injury at halftime, replaced by Andy Rafferty, who made his first appearance since November 2011 after being out injured for the whole of last season.

Jack Baldwin was well positioned to nod a Greg Halford header off the line.

Radoslaw Majewski saw a shot saved by Flinders cut in behind Neil Austin, and his effort at goal was placed towards Flinders’ top corner, but the goalkeeper was well positioned to save without trouble.

However, the Polish international was soon celebrating.

He cut open some space on the edge of the penalty area and fired into Flinders’ bottom corner Flinders soon made a strong block with his chest, closing down advanced right-back Gonzalo Jara who tried to clip his finish past the keeper.

Left-back Dan Harding wasn’t to be outdone and soon curled a shot that Flinders stopped.

Before Austin’s goal, Pools’ best opening game on 52 minutes.

Skipper Antony Sweeney got into the area and teed up Luke James, but six yards from goal he lost his footing and the ball was cleared.

Steve Howard was put on after an hour to try and help James up front, but Pools were two-down within minutes – with a goal made in Sunderland.

Rafferty saved from Andy Reid, but from the corner another former Black Cat, Greg Halford, headed in.

Reid crafted the third, lifting a ball in for Matt Derbyshire to head home.

Pools first goal of the season came on 76 minutes - from an unlikely soure, as rightback Austin headed in after a long throw in was only cleared to the edge of the area.


1-0: Majewski (29, low shot curled into the bottom corner from 20 yards)
2-0: Halford (65, towering header from a deep Reid corner)
3-0: Derbyshire (67, looping header after a Reid pass found the striker)
3-1: Austin (76, header from 12 yards after a long throw wasn't cleared)

Bookings: None

Referee: Stephen Martin (Stafford): Very little to do for the official 6

Attendance: 9,081

Entertainment: 2/5

NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-4-2): De Vires 5; Jara 7, Halford 7, Hobbs 7, Harding 6; Guedioura 7, Paterson 8, Majewski 5; Henderson 5 (Miller 71), Cox 5 (Derbyshire 26, 6), Mackie 5 (Reid 60, 7). Subs: Darlow (gk), Collins, Cohen, McLaughlin.

6 Flinders: Beaten once, made two decent first-half saves before injury forced him off;
5 Austin: Spent most of the game pressed back, as Forest's full-backs pressed forward at will
6 Baldwin: First-half goalline clearance and settled well into the back four after his midfield appearance at the weekend - likely to stay there
7 BURGESS: Again good on the ball, comfortable in possession. But will be a little disappointed in allowing Derbyshire to peel away to head in the third
6 Holden: Offered more natural balance to the side at left-back in place of Hartley, who was suffering from illness;
6 Walker: Playing 90 minutes at the City Ground in only his second professional appearance will do him good and he never looked out of place in the midfield
6 Walton: Sat deep in midfield, with Walker alongside, in a tough night as Forest kept the ball for long periods - it was about keeping shape and he did it;
5 Franks: Not as direct or busy as he was in the opening game. Got his head down at times to try and get by Harding, but the Forest defender won the battle
5 Sweeney: Tried to get forward and did it when he could, but was checked by the Forest midfield every time he went. Set up James for a clear opening at 1-0
4 Compton: Couple of nice touches, but was probably in and out of the game more than anything and was replaced in the second period;
6 James: Tough and unenviable task in playing up front alone against two giant centre-halves, but kept going. Lost his footing when he was presented with a good opportunity.
Rafferty (for Flinders 46): Good hands and, while he was twice beaten without being able to do anything about both finishes 6
Howard (for Compton 60): Little chances to make a mark, but was his presence brought about Pools' goal
Rodney (for James 86)
Not used: Collins, Poole, Monkhouse, , Richards.

JAMIE Patterson - a constant menace