EVEN goal-den boy Antony Sweeney admits he was looking over his shoulder and feared the axe during Hartlepool United’s New Year slump, writes Craig Hope.
Pools’ drastic dip in form was halted thanks to Saturday’s last-gasp 1-0 win over Colchester United – Sweeney the hero with his 11th of the season.
But the Victoria Park favourite says every player was questioning their contribution following a run of six league games which yielded just two points and one goal.
“Anyone could have been dropped after the Oldham game,” said Sweeney in reference to the 4-0 defeat at Boundary Park.
“We said amongst ourselves last week that nobody was guaranteed their place.
“Mick (Wadsworth) made a couple of changes for Colchester and said before the game we had a stronger looking bench with players who are desperate to play.
“Anyone getting a shirt had to earn it and prove themselves and I think that’s why you saw that sort of performance.”
Indeed, it was the boys from the bench, aided by Sweeney’s killer right boot, who swung the game in Pools’ favour.
And the match-winner was impressed with the second-half impact of Colin Larkin and Andy Monkhouse.
“We made a couple of substitutions in the second half and it helped us,” he said, “Larks came in, he hasn’t played much lately, and was a handful running at them.
“Monks as well did excellently and got the flick for my goal.
“He’s had his share of goals in the last few seasons, but not so many this and you get in a rut and start snatching at chances.
“You need one in off your backside to get going and I’m sure when he gets one he will get a run, just as they have come pretty regular for myself as well.’’