JOHN Hughes today hailed his “13 heroes” after seeing Hartlepool United reignite hope of League One survival.
Pools were valiant 3-1 winners at Portsmouth on Saturday to move to within 10 points of safety, the narrowest margin since the Scot’s arrival in November.
With 18 games remaining Hughes hopes time does not run out on his side, and he is mindful of a recent home record which reads seven defeats from seven.
But the Scot believes the weekend triumph at the home of their relegation rivals is evidence that escaping the drop remains a possibility.
“It’s all about three points right now,” said Hughes, who had taken the step of declaring the trip to Fratton Park as “must win” on Friday.
“I can talk about all the other stuff like new players and styles of football, but right now it’s about winning matches and we’ve got 18 cup finals left.
“It’s all about digging it out and getting results.
“I just hope the games don’t run out.
“We’ve got seven points from nine away and that’s good form, but we need to sort things out at home if we’re going to stand any chance (of survival).”
Saturday’s victory was achieved thanks to goals from Jack Baldwin, James Poole and Greg Rutherford, the latter sealing the points in stoppage time after Pompey’s Jed Wallace had ensured a nervy finale with a fine finish 23 minutes from the end.
And Hughes went on: “This was a terrific win - we showed great fight and we were resolute.
“Everyone played a part – we had 13 heroes out there.
“But since I’ve come in I’ve seen that in them.
“I’ve always said that you have to look for inspiration.
“We have to deal with the expectation and pressure and be a man and go and produce.
“They certainly did that as a team on Saturday.”
Pools were backed by more than 200 fans who had journeyed to the South Coast to witness just the second away win of the campaign.
And, given the adverse weather conditions back in the north-east, Hughes dedicated the win to those hardy followers.
“I have to mention the supporters,” he said.
“I know the conditions in the north-east meant one or two had to turn back.
“But they got right behind the team and this one is for them – I’m delighted for them.”