Second and third divisions: Hartlepool spurred on by defeat

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Sacked by Hartlepool despite guiding them to promotion last season, the Luton manager, Mick Newell, must have taken special delight in putting one over his former club last month. He may be less pleased, however, to learn that the only blemish on Hartlepool's season is being used as a motivational tool by his successor at Victoria Park.

"The defeat at Luton was the kick up the backside we all needed," said the new manager, Neale Cooper. "We had got off to a good start and I don't know whether it was a little case of over-confidence. But since then the players have responded superbly.

"They know now they are in a tough division and they realise that if they don't play to their full potential they can get turned over." Following the Luton defeat, Hartlepool have drawn 0-0 with Oldham, crushed Grimsby 8-1 and recorded a 2-1 victory at Stockport, who parted company with their manager, Carlton Palmer, yesterday.

A win at Brentford today combined with defeat for Port Vale at Bristol City tomorrow could see Hartlepool on top of the Second Division, although Cooper insists his team will not be thinking of that.

"Managers always say it but I genuinely don't look at league tables," he said. "The players at this club are the same. I don't think any of them will be looking at league tables and getting ideas into their heads."

Not so Brian Flynn, the director of football at the Third Division leaders Swansea, who are seeking a sixth consecutive home win against Huddersfield. Flynn is happy to acknowledge his side's place among the best in the section.

"We've made as good a start as anyone and we're starting to gain a reputation now as one of the better sides in this league," Flynn said. "Our home form will be the cornerstone of our season. The key is to be consistent, and now we have started well we must keep the momentum going.

"But it has been good so far at home. Five wins from five games and 18 goals scored is not a bad return. We've been bright, we've scored goals and we've entertained - we can have no complaints."