FROM being subbed after three minutes against Fleetwood Town to a man-of-the match-display in the 2-0 win over York City, it has been quite the week for Luke James, writes Richard Mennear.
On Saturday, the 19-year-old ended his drought, which had seen him go nine starts without scoring for the Sky Bet League Two club, with a clinical finish from inside the penalty area to put Pools 1-0 up in the 82nd minute – his 11th goal of the season.
Seven minutes later, debutant Jack Barmby secured the win with a superb strike but it was James that took the man of the match gong after another impressive display.
It was all very different from last week’s 2-0 defeat to Fleetwood, which saw James hooked after three minutes after Jordan Richards’ early red card.
Amble-born James, who hadn’t scored since the win over Northampton Town back in mid-November, said he was delighted to get back on the score sheet – running towards the dugout to celebrate with manager Colin Cooper and assistant Craig Hignett.
Asked how the topscoring teenager felt when the ball hit the net, he said: “It was relief more than anything.
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“I had a word with the gaffer and Higgy and they had told me to keep doing what I have been doing and the goals will come.
“Every goalscorer has a dry run and I’m just happy to get back off the mark and hopefully it will continue.
“I wanted to say thank you to the manager for keeping me in the team and that is why I ran to the bench.
“That is what I am there to do, to score goals, but I haven’t done that for the last nine games.
“I have tried to work hard and keep my performances high and then thankfully the goal came.
“It didn’t go to plan down at Fleetwood but it was good to get back on the field and show the gaffer and Higgy that I can still bang them in.
“I hit the ball sweetly. It is about time, it has been nine games without a goal, not that I’m counting!
“But it was a relief just to get back on the goal trail because for me it has been too long.”
The much-sought after striker admitted his goal-drought had begun to affect his confidence.
“It has affected my confidence levels a little bit,” added James.
“But the performances were more of a worry for me and I wanted to try and keep them as high as I possibly could.
“I know my job is to score goals so I was a bit worried at times but as long as I was playing well, then I was happy with that but it has been frustrating.
“As long as you work hard as a team and stay in the game then I believe we have the quality to get the three points and we have gone in front 12 times this season and won all 12.
“The first goal is important in every single game you play.”
The striker was also delighted to see new team-mate, on-loan Manchester United ace Barmby, score his first for the club on his Football League debut.
James added: “Jack had done one similar in shooting practice on Friday and everyone was just like “oh my God”.
“He will be over the moon with that. I’m pretty sure he won’t score a better one.”