SAM Collins admits that every Hartlepool United player was fearing for their place in the build up to Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Shrewsbury Town.
Manager Neale Cooper had promised changes for the visit of The Shrews following the embarrassment of the 5-0 defeat at Preston North End.
Andy Monkhouse, Neil Austin and Simon Walton were all relegated to the bench, with Jack Baldwin, James Poole and Craig Lynch coming in.
And it was the dropped Monkhouse who emerged from the bench to salvage a last-minute point for Cooper’s men.
“The gaffer made changes and it could have been anyone left out after Tuesday,” skipper Collins told SportMail.
“Those playing he wanted a reaction from, the same form those on the bench.
“All week the gaffer said he wanted a reaction when we go behind, rather than heads going down and waiting to see what happens.
“Andy came on and scored a good goal – he came on and didn’t sulk, got involved and scored.
“It’s a squad game and the gaffer will be pleased.”
Pools had taken a first-half lead through Jonathan Franks, only for Marvin Morgan to level before the break and then fire the visitors ahead eight minutes from time.
But Collins believes the last-gasp equaliser showed character from the home side.
“One of the pleasing points is that we came from behind to get a point,” he went on.
“When you look at the stats in recent years, it’s very rare for us to come back from behind to get something.
“So there’s a bit of relief as well because they scored a second late on and we made it hard for ourselves to get something out of it.
“When we went in front we needed to kick on more, we conceded from a set-piece which is disappointing as we normally defend against them well.
“The negative was losing concentration a bit at big moments – even at getting back to 2-2 they had a chance to win it.”
Pools could have taken the lead just moments before Morgan claimed his second, Franks electing to cross rather than shoot when presented with time and space inside the area.
And Collins reflected: “It was strange as we could have gone ahead before they scored – we said to him (Franks) in the dressing room he could have shot.
“He’d already scored one really good goal and the area he was in it was perfect to hit it.
“From where we were at the back it was hard to tell, but Stevie (Howard) said he could have passed it to him for a tap-in and Monky was there as well, but he is only a young lad and his decision making will improve.
“But then they scored and it was a disappointing one.
“Pete (Hartley) headed it away, they headed it straight back and it fell to play it around the corner.
“Pete said he rolled him a bit, it might have been a foul but I’m not sure.
“It was a bad goal rom our point of view, we should do better.”