ANDY Monkhouse believes the eventual inclusion of teenager Luke James in the Hartlepool United starting XI was the inspiration behind a first win in nine matches.
It was the 32-year-old winger who took the headlines with both goals during Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Bury, breaking a run of nearly 13 hours without score.
But James, the 18-year-old striker, was handed his first league start of the season for the relegation showdown, much to the relief of his senior team-mates.
“Luke has been banging on the door for a while,” Monkhouse told SportMail today.
“It’s the manager’s choice, of course, but him coming in gave us a belief that he could change it.
“I thought he was outstanding.
“Yeah, he gets pushed off the ball here and there, but his endeavour and attitude is spot on.
“The lads see it and feed off it and he was a major part in us winning the game.
“ Ask their centre-halves, he caused them problems and gave us a different dynamic.”
Monkhouse’s words are sure to resonate with supporters who have long since called for James to be involved from the off.
The reality is, however, his impact will come too late for Pools, despite Saturday’s results going their way.
Their victory, coupled with defeats for Scunthorpe United and Oldham Athletic, moves them to within five points of safety with three matches left to play.
And Monkhouse went on: “There’s three games left, we’ll give it our best and if it’s good enough then great.
“If not and we have left it too late then we only have ourselves to blame really.
“Most people outside the club have had us down for a long time and now, with three games left, we still have a chance.
“Winning this keeps the hope alive, so you never know.
“We could have gone down on Saturday and the lads were aware of that.
“But we are still in there fighting.”
Monkhouse broke Pools’ 12-hour-and-42-minute barren patch when he turned in a header from close range, a goal only awarded after a delay with the ball having been hacked from the goalmouth by a Bury defender.
“It was a relief to get that goal,” reflected the scorer.
“Pete (Hartley) headed it down and I got a head to it and it trickled over the line.
“There was some doubt about it and maybe a few weeks ago that would have been cleared and then they go up the other end and score - that’s what it’s been like.”
But there was no doubt about his second 18 minutes from time, a firm header into the bottom corner from 12 yards.
“For the second, Franksy (Jon Franks) did well on the right with the cross and I got in on target,” Monkhouse added.
“I went for the bottom corner and the keeper pushed it to the post and it went in, but the luck went our way for a change.
“We might need that luck again over the next few weeks if we’re going to survive.”