JAMES Poole admits he was cruelly denied what would have been “the highlight of his career” during Saturday’s 2-2 draw at MK Dons.
The 21-year-old had only been on the field for three minutes of what was his second Pools debut when he bagged an opening-day contender for goal of the season.
With Mick Wadsworth’s men clinging to a 1-1 draw and just five minutes left on the clock, Poole gathered the ball on the fringe of the centre circle before setting off in the direction of the Dons’ danger zone.
Making light, and fools, of two defenders, he left them in his wake with a blistering turn of foot before dinking over David Martin to send the 500 travelling Poolies into disbelieving celebration.
But within six minutes Poole’s dreams were dashed as Jabo Ibehre cancelled out his wonder strike with a scruffy equaliser at the opposite end of the beauty spectrum.
And that left the new terrace idol in bittersweet mood when he spoke to SportMail today.
“It would have been the highlight of my career so far if we had won,” he reflected.
“But coming away with a draw takes a bit from it for me and it was a sickener when they got the late equaliser.
“It’s something you never want to experience. It was the high of scoring with a few minutes to go and then the low of conceding.
“But we didn’t get beaten, we got a draw, but looking back on the game I thought we could have won it.”
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And, of his goal, he added: “I’ve got pace and can run at players and did that when I got on.
“When I got the ball off Nathan Luscombe I thought: ‘Run, and how am I going to score?’
“It was head down and go for goal. That’s part of my game, running at defenders and putting them on the back foot.
“I knew the defenders weren’t as quick as me, with my speed I can cause problems.
“It was just an incredible feeling to get by them and see it hit the back of the net - the rest of the team caught up with me to celebrate and I was delighted to score.”
Poole had been kept on the bench by Wadsworth until his 82nd-minute introduction.
However, having top scored with four during pre-season he had hoped to have done enough to win a starting berth.
And the former Manchester City youngster admits he was kicking every ball from the away-team dugout.
“I was dying to get on from the first minute,” said the forward, who will start tomorrow night’s Carling Cup clash with Sheffield United.
“Watching from the side you can see the whole game and wonder what you could have done.
“You’ve got to prepare as if you are starting and take it seriously and just try and get on the pitch.
“Thankfully when I did get on I made an immediate impact but it would have topped it off had we won.”