Goals set to flow for Hartlepool Utd ahead of Carlisle derby clash

Antony Sweeney controls the ball in mid air. Photograph by FRANK REID
Antony Sweeney controls the ball in mid air. Photograph by FRANK REID

ANTONY Sweeney believes the goals are set to flow for Hartlepool United – but he admits there is added pressure on himself to make the most of Steve Howard’s presence in the side.

Pools finally got this season’s goal tally up and running at the fourth attempt during Saturday’s 2-0 disposal of Scunthorpe United.

Sweeney, though, is yet to break his campaign duck despite having top scored in pre-season.

He came within a fingertip of netting against The Iron, only for his goal-bound header to be clawed from the line by Scunny’s Josh Walker, resulting in the midfielder’s red card.

It was Howard who spurned the chance to net from the penalty spot and he, too, is still to bag this term.

But Sweeney is adamant the pair will deliver a healthy return in front of the posts, and says it is up to the likes of himself to take full advantage of the target man.

“We’ve been crying out for a big man for years and we’ve never quite got him,” said Sweeney, who turned 29 yesterday.

“It’s not really worked out with a few who we have brought in.

“But Stevie fits the bill and we’re all hoping he’s going to be a big player for us this season.

“I’m sure he’ll score a good few goals for us, I’ve seen him doing it in training.

“It takes the pressure off a little bit as well because when you’re struggling the ball tends not to come back as quickly.

“He will also create a lot more chances, and that’s my job is to get on the end of them.

“Everyone knows I like to arrive in those spaces in the penalty area and I got a couple of goals like that in pre-season.

“If Stevie takes defenders away then it’s up to me to take advantage.

“But Luke (James), Franksy (Jon Franks), we’ve all got to make more of it and get up to support Steve.”

It was wideman Franks who eased home nerves and gave Pools their first goal of the season when he buried a first-half chance.

The arrival of the former Middlesbrough starlet has seen Sweeney deployed in his favoured, central role, as opposed to filling the hole on the right, as he often did last term.

And the Stockton-born ace went on: “I was out there for a spell last year but Franksy is a lot quicker than I am, so I think we’re better off!

“I think we’ve got a natural balance now.

“Franksy out there gives us that natural pace – which I never had – and there’s a good feel to the team, especially with Steve up front.

“Personally, I think my best position is alongside a holding midfield player.

“But you ask the lads on the bench where they would like to play and they’ll say anywhere.

“But if I was manager, I’d pick myself in the position I am now.”