JOHN Hughes has spoken of his relief after Hartlepool United broke a run of nearly 13 hours without a goal.
The barren patch – which extended into its ninth match – will almost certainly prove too costly when it comes to the final reckoning in three weeks’ time.
But Saturday’s 2-0 success over fellow relegation candidates Bury meant Pools avoided the ignominy of becoming the first Football League club to confirm their demotion.
Andy Monkhouse was the star man with a pair of goals, and Hughes admits his 42nd-minute opener was long overdue.
“Eight games without scoring wasn’t good enough so we opened up a bit, going 4-4-2,” said the Scot today.
“It left us open and we nearly got caught once or twice, but it gave us more of a threat up front.
“The goal took a while coming though and it was a relief to end that run.
“We hit a post, went close a couple of times and we needed to be patient.
“We were talking about set-plays, who would get on the second ball to keep it alive, and Monks got there.
“If we got the first goal I felt we would be comfortable and would win it.
“But we never make it easy for ourselves and Jon Franks missed what looked like an open goal.
“He’s been wearing some new green boots and he’s been taking some stick for it, but he says the defender got in on him and got a touch.
“The pitch isn’t conducive to a passing game against 10 men either, so all credit to the boys for grinding it out.”
Bury were reduced in number just before half-time when Craig Fagan was shown a straight red card following an off-the-ball clash with teenage full-back Darren Holden.
And Hughes reflected: “I was a little bit disappointed is Darren’s reaction – for me, there was a wee flick of the elbow, but it’s not a sending-off as it does spoil the game even when it goes in your favour.
“But Bury are like us – when you are down there, decisions go against you.”