Hartlepool utd’s Horwood is the penalty king

IN his own mind, Evan Horwood boasts a perfect record from the penalty spot.

Officially, he has missed just one – and that came during the shootout defeat to Bradford City in this season’s Football League Trophy.

But that effort was shrouded in controversy, the ball cannoning down off the crossbar and into the goalmouth, Horwood believing it had crossed the line.

The referee wasn’t sure and neither were his assistants and, after a delay of around 10 seconds, the man in black signalled a miss and City were the winners.

Horwood, though, showed no hesitation in again stepping up at Walsall a fortnight ago and he made no mistake in tucking home.

The Pools-born defender will be on penalty duty tomorrow when Stevenage come to town, and he told SportMail: “I have only ever missed one penalty and I’m sure that was over the line anyway!

“So in my mind I’ve got a 100-per-cent record from the spot.

I love taking them so if we get one tomorrow – which hopefully we will – I’ll be stepping up to take it.”

It was the absence of the suspended Neil Austin which saw Horwood seize the opportunity against The Saddlers.

And he reflected: “No-one had really thought about who would take them beforehand.

“I realised Aussie wasn’t there so I just grabbed it really.

“No-one had any complaints so I just went with it.

“I looked to the right before I took it and the keeper went with my eyes.

“I always thought he’d go that way so I just rolled it in the other side, it was a tap-in really.”

Horwood has his own mental approach when it comes to penalties, and there’s nothing complicated about his technique.

“Nothing really goes through my head beforehand and I don’t think too much about it – if you do then I think that’s when you start missing them,” he said.

“I just simplify it – I’m here to score a goal.

“That takes away the pressure for me and it’s always served me well so I won’t be changing now.”

Horwood’s goal at the Banks’s Stadium earned new boss John Hughes his first point with the club.

Pools, though, remain 10 points from safety ahead of tomorrow’s game.

“The way it’s been the past couple of months hasn’t been good enough,” Horwood went on.

“Walsall was a gritty sort of point which stopped the rot a little bit.

“But we’ve got to build on that tomorrow, we need that win so badly.”