BRAD Walker’s winning penalty capped off a fine week for the resurgent Hartlepool United teenager, who insists the players believe they WILL now stay up.
Walker was battered, bruised but beaming after the 1-0 win over Mansfield Town, a third win in a week for Pools since he returned to the side.
Victory pushed Ronnie Moore’s side to within a point of safety, further instilling the belief that safety in Sky Bet League Two is well within reach.
The 18-year-old confidently tucked away a 47th minute penalty after Nicky Featherstone was fouled to secure the win at a buoyant Victoria Park.
Walker said: “It has obviously been a good week since I got back in the side but it has been a real team effort.
“The goal has just capped the week off – we have been magnificent.
“There was believe before that we would get out of it, even when we were nine points adrift at one point. But coming off on Saturday, we are now just one point and we have to keep believing. If we do, then we will get out of this.”
Walker confidently sent Lenny Pidgeley the wrong way to convert his penalty, the second Pools have been awarded in a week.
Ryan Bird missed his effort away at Oxford United, Neil Austin smashing home the rebound, and Walker volunteered in training to take the next one.
He added: “I knew I would be taking the penalty if we got one and I had practised beforehand.
“I was going to go top corner but then I bottled it and went bottom corner in the end!
“When Nicky went down, I was celebrating – I feel confident taking penalties.
“As soon as he went down, I knew I was taking it.”
Soon after scoring he took a heavy whack to the face, Junior Brown’s studs catching him full in the face, a tackle which resulted in a straight red card for Brown.
Walker didn’t hesitate in sticking his head in where it hurts. He added: “I have a big lump on my head, I headbutted their lads’ studs and ended up with a cut head – but at least he was sent off! I thought if I don’t go in for it then the other lads would be having a go at me.
“I almost ended up with a stud in my eye for my troubles. I was a bit dizzy but otherwise okay.”
The second largest crowd of the season was inside Victoria Park to witness the sixth home win this season, and Walker thanked the fans for their ongoing support.
He added: “The fans have been fantastic. They got us through the last 25 minutes with their support.
“The first half was dead, there was no tempo to the game.
“But, second half, we started really well, got the goal and the tempo was much better.”