JAMES DREAM – Hartlepool Utd’s Luke hopes nightmare season has happy ending

Goal scorers Luke James and Peter Hartley at the end of the game against Leyton Orient. Picture by FRANK REID
Goal scorers Luke James and Peter Hartley at the end of the game against Leyton Orient. Picture by FRANK REID

LUKE James is desperate to turn his “nightmare” season into a dream ending – and the teenage striker is happy to make his impact from the bench.

The 18-year-old was the toast of the town on Saturday night after his 94th-minute strike snatched the most dramatic 2-1 victory over Leyton Orient.

James had been on the pitch for less than a quarter of an hour but played his part in winning the corner which led to Peter Hartley’s late equaliser before stealing the headlines in stoppage-time.

The Amble-born starlet is yet to start a game under manager John Hughes and the Scot insists he will “protect” the injury-plagued academy graduate between now and the end of the campaign.

James is willing to bow to his boss’s better judgement when it comes to his appearance, admitting the past six months have not gone according to plan.

“I’m just happy to be involved, as long as I get my time on the pitch and show what I can do,” the level-headed youngster told SportMail today.

“If I get 10-to-20 minutes to come on and try to make an impact then I’m happy with that.

“I’ve had injuries and it’s been a bit of a nightmare to be honest.

“I had a hernia, got over that, and then had tonsillitis.

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“Touch wood, I’m over my injuries now and they are in the past.

“I’ve set my targets for the rest of the season and they are to get on the pitch, get my game time and then score some goals – like I did on Saturday.”

And were James to cap that with a survival-sealing blast then all the better.

“It was great to get the goal which takes us off the bottom of the table,” he said, his effort having taken Pools from the foot of League One for the first time in nearly four months.

“It has given us all a massive lift to see someone below us.

“Earlier in the season we might have lost that 1-0, this time we have scored in 88th and 94th minutes.

“It shows we won’t give up. The gaffer wants us to be in it together and pull each other through this.

“If someone is having a bad day we lift each other.

“We are five unbeaten and heading in the right direction.

“I’m just delighted to play my part on Saturday – it could be an important goal and hopefully there are a few more like it to come.”