Padraig Amond was thrilled to go from potential sacrificial lamb to saviour in Hartlepool United’s draw with Newport County.
The summer signing from Grimsby Town netted his first goal in front of the home fans when he scored the 38th-minute equaliser for Pools at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
Amond headed in the corner from flat-mate Lewis Alessandra to level matters at 2-2 in an incredible League Two confrontation.
It came just seconds after the 26-year-old and his County marker had been warned by referee Andy Haines for their jostling for position in the box as they waited for Alessandra’s delivery.
“For my goal, I remember the ball coming in and when I headed it, it felt an age to go into the net. I’m delighted as it’s my first home goal,” said the Irishman.
“I’ve lost my marker and the referee spoke to us both before the incident.
“He said he was going to give a penalty or a free-kick, one way or another. The defender has stepped away from me a bit because of it.
“From my point of view I would take a chance there every day – if the ref gives five free-kicks, he might give one penalty, and I’d take that to be fair!”
Amond put in a tremendous shift for the team on Saturday, when he ended up dropping into midfield in the aftermath of Toto Nsiala’s third-minute sending off.
When Amond’s former Grimsby team-mate was red-carded it looked odds on that boss Craig Hignett would change his side to bring on a central defender and withdraw a forward.
Indeed, sub Scott Harrison warmed up on the touchline of the Cyril Knowles Stand but was not brought on until almost the hour-mark, with Nicky Featherstone filling in at the centre of defence alongside Matthew Bates.
“As a striker, when a red card comes like that you think there’s a forward coming off in order to make a substitution – it’s the natural thing,” said Amond.
“I’m prepared, make sure it’s good for the team.
“Instead I played centre-midfield for 65-70 minutes – I wasn’t expecting that before the game.
“It’s a new position or me, but Woodsy has been fantastic to me in there.
“He’s talked me through the game and Feathers has dropped in behind with Batesy and made it easy for me, telling me what to do. I’d like to think, I played my part in there.”
He certainly did. Amond visited areas of the pitch he has rarely seen as he put in the miles for Pools, though when Billy Paynter was taken off just before the hour he was despatched back up front.
He had some sympathy for Nsiala who was given an early bath by Mr Haines for deliberate handball just seconds after Featherstone had put Pools into second-minute lead.
“I don’t think I’ve played in a game with a start like that before,” said Amond. “A crazy game. The goal we first scored wouldn’t be out of place in a Barcelona game.
“You would go a long way to see a better worked goal.
“ Woodsy has lifted it over the top and it’s a great finish by Feathers.
“One up after a minute and a bit and you think this is going to be a great day.
“Then next thing, 20-30 seconds later it’s all changed. The grass has been a little bit longer and drier in the other two home games because of the weather we have had.
“The groundsman has done a really, really good job on the pitch but the ball has skidded off there and I can see why he’s been sent-off.
“The red card is a double whammy as they scored from it as well.
“If they don’t score then we regroup and it’s a different game. For the first few minutes after the red card I didn’t know where I was going. Feathers and Woodsy and Batesy then came into their own telling me where to be.
“That’s invaluable, they’ve got the experience of playing there and at a good level.
“Woodsy was brilliant alongside me. When I’ve gone in there, I’ve gone a bit too attacking at first.
“I’m a striker, that’s my natural game, then Woodsy told me how to do the role and it might sound stupid but I needed someone like that to talk to me – I’ve never played central midfield before.
“I’ve joked to the lads in there that I’ve a new-found respect for central midfielders now. If you want to learn how to play centre midfield then come and watch me today and do the opposite!