JAMES Poole was as surprised as anyone to get onto the pitch before half-time at Victoria Park.
But the Hartlepool United sub hopes his man of the match performance will get him a place in the starting XI.
Poole took over from Jonathan Franks who was taken off by boss Colin Cooper after suffering an off-day down the right.
The former Man City youngster moved up front and had an assist as Luke James pulled Pools level three minutes into the second period.
But Pools conceded on 66 minutes, Deane Smalley putting the U’s ahead with an injury-time Asa Hall penalty sealing the away win.
“The gaffer told me to warm up,” explained Poole. “I wasn’t sure if someone was struggling or not, but he obviously saw fit to change it.
“I’ve always said I’ll be ready when called upon, whether it’s after half an hour or 89 minutes.
“Sometimes games need a change, obviously the manager thought that it wasn’t working and we could improve.
“I think the tempo did rise after half-time but I don’t think that was down to me.
“That was down to everyone, from Scott Flinders at the back to Luke James up top.
“We got in their faces and upped the tempo.
“I think we were a bit unlucky.
“Luke had a great finish and had another chance which the keeper pulled off a great save.
“It was a weird game, it could easily have finished 3-1 to us.”
Poole’s display has served as a reminder to Cooper, ahead of Saturday’s visit to Mansfield.
And the 23-year-old was applying no verbal pressure on the boss when he faced the media.
He will not be knocking on Cooper’s door but leaving the decision with the boss.
“I’ve always had the confidence in myself that I can play no matter what team the manager decides to put out,” he said.
“You have got to believe in yourself that you can play because when you are given the chance you have got to show it.
“I worked hard and gave everything I could.”