EVEN goal-den boy Antony Sweeney admits he was looking over his shoulder and fearing the axe during the New Year slump.
Pools’ drastic dip in form was halted thanks to Saturday’s last-gasp 1-0 win over Colchester United – Sweeney the hero with his 11th of the season.
But the Victoria Park favourite says every player was questioning their contribution following a run of six league games which yielded just two points and one goal.
“Anyone could have been dropped after the Oldham game,” said Sweeney in reference to the 4-0 defeat at Boundary Park.
“We said amongst ourselves last week that nobody was guaranteed their place.
“Mick (Wadsworth) made a couple of changes for Colchester and said before the game we had a stronger looking bench with players who are desperate to play.
“Anyone getting a shirt had to earn it and prove themselves and I think that’s why you saw that sort of performance.”
Indeed, it was the boys from the bench, aided by Sweeney’s killer right boot, who swung the game in Pools’ favour.
And the match-winner was impressed with the second-half impact of Colin Larkin and Andy Monkhouse.
“We made a couple of substitutions in the second half and it helped us,” he said.
“Larks came in, he hasn’t played much lately, and was a handful running at them.
“Monks as well did excellently and got the flick for my goal.”
And, of team-mate Monkhouse, Sweeney added: “He’s had his share of goals in the last few seasons, but not so many this and you get in a rut and start snatching at chances.
“You need one in off your backside to get going and I’m sure when he gets one he will get a run, just as they have come pretty regular for myself as well.’’
The victory lifted Pools to 11th in League One and alleviated the pressure which was gradually building with each winless outing.
And Sweeney admits that confidence had taken a battering in recent weeks.
“Confidence had taken a dent over the last month,” said the 27-year-old midfielder.
“We can take losing but at one or two down we’ve crumbled a bit and to lose at Peterborough and Oldham by four, you shouldn’t lie down like we have done.
“It’s not like us to do that because at two you are still in it, at three or four it’s different.
“Maybe you lack a bit of confidence, but before that we were riding high and it shows again that everyone can take points off everyone.
“Maybe the key is not to get so carried away with wins, and equally not get too down with defeats.
“You cannot take your foot off the gas in this league, we need to be consistent and for us to win games everyone has to be on their game.
“We all have to be at it and that’s what we have spoken about and if we do that in the majority of games then I think we’ll be okay this season.”