MATCHWINNER Ryan Bird believes the serious injury sustained by Michael Woods helped spur his new Hartlepool United team-mates to victory, writes RICHARD MENNAR.
Woods suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula early in the second half which resulted in a lengthy stoppage before he was stretchered off to rousing applause from everyone inside Victoria Park.
The injury may well have spurred us on to winHartlepool’s Ryan Bird
It seemed to spur Pools on and with the full backing of the home support, Bird notched the winner in the 73rd minute, turning in Jack Compton’s cross from close range.
The 27-year-old had only trained twice since making the loan switch from Cambridge United and he described the win as a “dream debut”.
“The injury to Michael may well have spurred us on a little bit,” Bird told SportMail.
“Football can change in a heartbeat and football can be a cruel game at times.
“But straight from the following corner [after Woods had been taken off] Mirfin had a volley at goal and it did spur us on.
“The crowd clapped Woodsy off and made the atmosphere even louder, getting behind us even more.”
The Vic erupted once Bird netted the winner in front of the Town End to seal a win which helped claw the gap to safety back to six points.
Bird added: “It was fantastic to get the three points and that is the always the main thing but to score is a real bonus.
“We didn’t have too many chances in the game but we defended well and in the end I think we deserved the win.
“The goal came after our best passing move of the game and Compo said every time he gets the ball he would whip it in, so to get in the box.
“I did that and I shanked it a bit, if I’d hit it true it might not have gone in.
“I just had to get anything on it, at first I thought about heading it but then volleyed it.
“To score at the home end was brilliant and the feeling was amazing, the adrenaline was flowing through my blood – a great feeling.
“To get the winner on my debut can only help me, it is a dream debut really, to play the whole game, score and win.”
It marked a remarkable turnaround on a personal note for the Slough-born striker.
The previous Saturday he had started for Cambridge in their 6-2 thrashing by his former club Portsmouth.
Fast forward a week and he was the matchwinning hero for his new side.
“Football can change so quickly and 90 minutes can change the way you think,” added Bird.
“I had been in and out of the Cambridge side and then I got the chance and we got beat 6-2 – against my old team Portsmouth as well.
“That was a bad day but football can change and a week later I have scored the winner here.”