RELIEVED Ronnie Moore thought Hartlepool United had “blown” their chance of survival before achieving one of the greatest turnarounds in league football.
Moore admitted the heavy 3-0 defeat to Luton Town the previous weekend had him worried Pools side had gone backwards with just two games to go.
But they produced an outstanding team display to beat Exeter City 2-1 and seal their future as a Football League club with a game to spare.
Moore said the footballing Gods were shining down on them and he praised their “outstanding” efforts in turning around the season from the brink of disaster.
Against Exeter he brought Matthew Bates into central defence, with Dan Jones moved to left back after on-loan Scunthorpe United defender David Mirfin again missed out with a badly bruised toe.
“The game against Luton I thought we had blown it,” admitted Moore.
The game against Luton I thought we had blown itRonnie Moore
“I thought we had gone away from that type of performance and I didn’t see it coming.
“We lost Mirf through injury and if we had kept the two young kids at the back [Jones and Scott Harrison] against Exeter then we would have lost, so we brought Batesy in between them to keep them right.
“His experience helped them, but last weekend [against Luton] was the only time I thought it wasn’t going to happen.”
Victoria Park erupted at the final whistle but there was still an anxious wait before confirmation both relegation rivals Tranmere Rovers and Cheltenham Town had lost.
It meant Pools couldn’t be caught going into the final game of the season at Carlisle United.
Moore joked: “I’d had a word with Father Christmas and he said it might just happen come the end of the season!
“You have to say the right things and believe and when we had a run [of four straight wins] we started to realise it was on and the problem was coming out of the bottom two.
“I asked for one massive performance and we got it with unreal support again and it’s all came out exactly how we wanted it to.
“I have the same feeling as I did with back-to-back promotions with Rotherham, but this tops it.
“We will enjoy it and the players will have two or three days off.”
Moore and the players suffered a tense wait before confirmation the club was safe.
“It was only in the tunnel afterwards we found the other teams were still playing, it was so nerve racking,” added Moore.
“But the Gods were smiling on us, it’s a tremendous achievement from everyone.
“I’ve enjoyed every minute of being here and am now looking forward to next season.”
Meanwhile, Jack Compton appears to have played his last game for the club.
Compton, signed by Colin Cooper in the summer of 2013, was recalled after nine games out but confirmed on Twitter it was his last game at Victoria Park.
Compton tweeted: “Can’t believe we did it. And what a send off! My last game at VP. Want to thank all the players staff and fans been memorable.”