BT Sport pundits hail 'unselfish' Hartlepool United star and penalty hero after play-off final victory over Torquay United
BT Sport pundit Grant Holt praised the character of Hartlepool United goalkeeper Brad James – after his penalty heroics helped Pools to promotion.
The on-loan Middlesbrough stopper was arguably at fault for Torquay United’s late leveller in extra time, but made amends by tipping the decisive penalty onto the crossbar to seal a return to League Two for the Victoria Park side.
And the former Premier League striker was quick to praise the youngster in his post-match analysis.
"What a reaction from him,” said BT Sport pundit Holt, speaking after the dramatic game.
"I’m glad he saved it. He’s had a lot of criticism the ‘keeper.
"I thought he was fantastic last week but today he was a little bit shaky. And then he’s done that at the end – so credit where it’s due.
"Dave kept faith with him and he came back round.”
Also coming in for credit from the BT Sport panel was striker Luke Armstrong, whose fine finish put Pools ahead in the first half.
His selfless running helped the side relieve pressure when Torquay sought a leveller – and his impact didn’t go unnoticed.
"He worked his socks off,” said Chris Hargreaves, the former Torquay United manager.
"He was strong and brave. It’s a great turn and he lifts it over the ‘keeper.
"He was a constant threat, an out ball, always on, and he’s always willing to run the channels.
"He’s had a really good season and he’s kept himself going no matter what. To show the same energy levels from zero to 120 minutes, credit to him.”
Former striker Aaron McLean was also full of praise for the Salford City loanee, and in particular the work that may go unnoticed by some.
"We’re all talking about Oates and his goals – Armstrong has 15 goals this season,” added McLean.
"He does the unselfish work. He’s the one who will go and fire into centre halves, look to go and get the ball and protect it for his team.
"We said about the spine of the team – Liddle, Featherstone and that man up top. It’s very strong.”