PAUL Murray refused to use the “phantom goal” that wasn’t given as an excuse for Hartlepool United crashing out of the FA Cup in spectacular style.
With the game evenly poised at 1-1, experienced striker Marlon Harewood turned and swivelled inside the area and got a shot away.
The ball squirmed through Hartlepool-born Blyth Spartans keeper Peter Jeffries’ gloves and the ball appeared to then cross the line before the keeper gathered it.
But referee Andy Madley, along with his assistant, waved away the strong appeals
It took several replays to confirm the ball had crossed the line but the linesman, who had two posts and a full-back in his line of sight, didn’t flag for the goal.
Murray refused to use it as an excuse and instead slammed his players’ lack of character.
Murray said: “Did we score? I don’t know.
“Did the ball go over the line? I’m not sure, but even with that we still have to do more [with our play].
“We didn’t show enough desire to get on the ball and help a teammate out.
“The options just weren’t there and we seemed to wilt.”
But Jeffries, who is a former season ticket holder at Pools, was adamant he didn’t think the ball had crossed the whole of the line.
The 27-year-old scaffolder said: “No, it wasn’t over the line.
“I don’t think it was but I haven’t seen it back.
“People have told me nobody could really tell whether it was or not.
“A few Hartlepool fans behind me certainly thought it was and they were calling me a cheat - but it wasn’t my fault!
“I don’t think the whole ball was over.”
The Blyth keeper, who enjoyed an impressive match in goal, described his side’s late win as “magic” and is now looking forward to tonight’s third round draw.
Jeffries added: “It was unbelievable - it was magic.
“I was taken aback by what happened.
“I have never played in a game like that.
“It was a dream night. It was good enough just to come here and play, never mind win.”
He was called into action early on in the match, diving full-stretch to deny Sidney Schmeltz’s header from close range.
Jeffries added: “I just flung myself at it and got what I could on it.
“If that had gone in, it could have been an onslaught but we knuckled down and kept going.”