Dave Challinor reveals what he said to his Hartlepool United players before extra-time after dramatic Torquay United equaliser
It was the most important team talk of his managerial career.
Hartlepool United were on the verge of promotion back to the Football League after four seasons in the National League, Luke Armstrong’s finish saw Pools 1-0 up as the clock counted down on six minutes of added-on time.
In the 95th minute, Torquay United goalkeeper Lucas Covolan popped up to equalise deep into injury time to send the game into extra time and temporarily break the hearts of the 3,100 Pools fans inside the ground and the thousands watching on back home in the North East.
Challinor gathered his players and from the press seats you could see him deliver a passionate speech to his players.
So what exactly did he say?
Challinor revealed: “I said to them at that point, it’s not about what you’re like as footballers, it’s about what you’re like as men and people who have got heart and courage and determination and all those sort of things because it’s the ultimate adversity.
"We were so close, potentially 30 seconds away and then all of a sudden your balloon is burst.
"It then becomes a mental test as well as a physical test and as well as a tactical and technical test.
"Overcoming that adversity is always going to be difficult.
"You saw a little bit of that in the first period of extra-time where they looked more likely but we got over it.
"Thankfully the penalty shoot out went in our favour,” added the Pools boss.
Brad James, on loan from Middlesbrough, who was at fault for their equaliser having come and got nowhere near the ball into the box, was the hero as he pushed sub Matt Buse’s effort on to the crossbar to cue wild celebrations with hundreds of fans spilling on to the pitch.
Pools winning 5-4 on penalties after the most dramatic of afternoons in Bristol, the National League play-off final played out with such intense drama.
The Pools players will now have a well-earned short break before returning to training to prepare for the return to League Two, with the fixtures for the new campaign out this Thursday.