Ryan Bird delighted at team-mates bailing him out

MATCH-WINNERS: Ryan Bird and Neil Austin
MATCH-WINNERS: Ryan Bird and Neil Austin

RYAN Bird had a mixed night in front of goal – but he hailed the resilience of his Hartlepool United team-mates in beating Oxford United

Bird netted the opening goal from close range after 33 minutes at the Kassam Stadium, after strike partner Jonathan Franks’ effort had been saved.

Thank God Ozzy got me out of jail with the rebound.

Ryan Bird

That gave Pools a crucial lead over Oxford and one which the on-loan Cambridge United striker should have doubled from the penalty spot at the start of the second-half.

His tame effort was saved but he had Neil Austin to thank for “getting him out of jail” – the defender knocking in the rebound.

Victory lifted Pools to within four points of safety – an incredible turnaround in the space of four days thanks to back-to-back wins.

The 27-year-old said the dressing room was “buzzing” following another hard-fought victory – and clean sheet – on the road.

Bird said: “It was such a fantastic feeling in the dressing room afterwards.

“We had worked so hard for the win, which made the feeling so much greater.

“They put us under a lot of pressure second half but we coped with it well.

“Me and Franksy worked as hard as we could up front to relieve some of the pressure.

“It is only 90 minutes – some people have to work proper shifts grafting all day – but my legs had gone at the end!”

Bird scored his second goal for Pools since joining on loan just past the half-hour mark.

He took it well from close range, giving keeper Ryan Clarke no chance.

And he knows he should have had two to his name.

Pools didn’t have a designated penalty taker on the pitch, manager Ronnie Moore admitted afterwards.

Usually either Austin or Franks take them but confident Bird grabbed the ball after already scoring once.

“It was instinct, my goal,” added Bird.

“It fell nicely for me after the keeper made a good save [from Franks] and I just smashed it and thankfully it went in.

“I grabbed the ball straight away for the penalty and I was confident about scoring but it wasn’t a great effort to be fair.

“Thank God Ozzy got me out of jail with the rebound.

“They didn’t have too many chances after that and our defence did really well, we were so resilient.

“The gap has been cut again and despite results not going our way, it is still down to four points.

“We are on a run now and we will take another three points this weekend.”