Antony Sweeney believes Hartlepool United's new management team will have 'food for thought' after an impressive showing against Sheffield Wednesday in the Papa John's Trophy

Hartlepool United interim boss Antony Sweeney was delighted with his players who ‘took their opportunity’ during an impressive 3-0 win over Sheffield Wednesday in the Papa John’s Trophy.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 6:00 am

Pools travelled to Hillsborough for their second round tie in indifferent form and with emotions high after the unveiling of new manager Graeme Lee.

It meant Sweeney was stepping into the dugout to lead Pools for the final time and he made eight changes to mark the occasion, but the 38-year-old was full of praise for his players.

“This is a difficult place to come regardless of whether it was full or half empty. This is a big club with big expectancy and good players,” Sweeney said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Antony Sweeney credited his Hartlepool United players for taking their chance against Sheffield Wednesday (Credit: Will Matthews | MI News)

“But we performed really well tonight. Sometimes you can come to places like this and be on the lucky side but that wasn’t the case tonight, we were fully deserving of that performance and result.

“I had to be true to my word to the players,” he continued.

“I’ve said over the course of the last four or five weeks ‘at some point you’ll be given an opportunity’.

“Because we’ve come to what is a monumental football club in Sheffield Wednesday, a League One side who’ve got aspirations of getting back into the Championship, it would have been quite easy, knowing that someone else is picking up the pieces tomorrow, to pick as strong a side as I could have done but that wouldn't have been doing the players justice.

“There’s certain players who haven’t had the minutes in the league that have played in this competition and got us to this stage so they deserved that opportunity and they deserved the opportunity to impress two new eyes, and to a man I think they’ve done that.”

Those two new eyes were in attendance at Hillsborough and you can be sure both Lee and Michael Nelson were impressed with what they saw from Pools who took an early lead through Mark Shelton’s back post header before a bizarre own goal from Jaden Brown gave Sweeney’s side a commanding lead.

Pools had chances to extend their lead in the first half but had to wait until midway through the second to add a third when Will Goodwin latched onto Shelton’s header in the area to power home from close range.

It means those who came into the side have now thrown their hat into the ring to be considered for Lee’s first team selection at Lincoln City on Saturday.

“There was a lot of changes but there was a lot of changes because we needed fresh legs,” said Sweeney.

“We’re in a tough period. Regardless of results there’d have been changes anyway. If you’ve been out of the squad, very rarely do you get the opportunity to impress a new management team straight away within a competitive game.

“Normally it’s training sessions which are difficult. They’ve took that opportunity and I’m sure the two lads up in the stands will have a bit of food for thought.”

A message from the Football Clubs Editor

Our aim is to provide you with the best, most up-to-date and most informative Hartlepool United coverage 365 days a year.

This depth of coverage costs, so to help us maintain the high-quality reporting that you are used to, please consider taking out a subscription to our new sports-only package here.

Your support is much appreciated. Richard Mennear, Football Clubs Editor.