LUKE James was today reflecting on what might have been after the “heartbreak” of a 2-2 draw at Bristol Rovers.
Just a couple of weeks ago, an exciting 2-2 away draw and a glut of chances would have been greeted with elation by Hartlepool United.
But Saturday’s point at the Memorial Stadium left Pools feeling “devastated”, according to two-goal James.
“To say we were disappointed is an understatement,” admitted the 18-year-old.
“If you walked into the dressing room after the game it was like a 4-0 defeat, it really was.
“For them to have scored on 89 minutes was a heartbreaker.
“The positive is we haven’t been beaten and hopefully we can push on.”
And, for James, the pain is even more palpable for the fact that he came so close to giving Pools maximum points on the road for the first time this season.
Jones raced clear on 79 minutes only for keeper Steve Mildenhall to make a stunning save to his left.
More frustration followed as Christian Burgess spurned a free header from the resulting corner from six yards.
Had either found the net, Pools would have led 3-1 and the spoils would have been theirs.
And, to rub salt in the wounds, John-Joe O’Toole grabbed a Bristol Rovers equaliser with just a minute of normal time to go.
“We should have come away with three points,” James said. “I had a chance near the end and Burge had a chance straight after.
“It’s a case of two points lost instead of one gained.
“The lads were devastated.”
James proved an honest young man, both on and off the field.
Boss Colin Cooper believed the striker was being fouled by O’Toole as he was pulling the proverbial trigger with his hat-trick opportunity.
But James stayed upright, just, and got his shot away and offered no excuses.
“I was fouled, I felt someone clipping at me,” he explained. “But I wasn’t going to go down.
“Some people might have looked to go down but I’d have done the same thing if it happened again
“I was through and in the middle of the goal I was never going to have a better opportunity
“I’d have got a bit of stick if I’d thrown myself to the floor
“I should have scored.”
James should have had a hat-trick but it’s hard to be critical of a player who scored two goals away from home.
The teenager scored twice in the first half as Pools hit back from a goal down to lead 2-1.
His 20-yard equaliser came seconds after Matt Harrold had put Rovers ahead while his second came late on in a crowded Gas box.
“The first was a flick on by Monks [Andy Monkhouse] and I turned and thought ‘why not’.
“It was a sweet connection and went into the bottom corner.
“It was nice to see it hit the back of the net just after they had taken the lead.
“The second was the perfect time to score.
“I would normally have squared it, but not on Saturday, I was just going to hit it.
“If I’d have missed I’d have got stick but I was pleased to see it go in.”