pools in it all together
Billy Paynter insists Hartlepool United are not a one-man-band.
The skipper has led from the front this season as Pools fought a successful survival battle - pulling clear of the relegation zone with a seven-match unbeaten run which includes five wins.
Paynter has bagged 15 goals in a Pools jersey, including eight in 13 starts since returning from an Achilles injury.
His double in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Mansfield took Pools to within two points of 16th place Crawley Town ahead of tonight’s showdown at Carlisle United.
Despite his brilliant form, Paynter says he is no hero.
“I’m getting a lot of help from my team-mates, we are not a one-man team,” he told SportMail.
“We are all in this together, we’re all fighting and we have the confidence in ourselves to keep things going.”
Pools are second in League Two’s form table with only automatic promotion favourites Bristol Rovers having picked up more points in March.
And Paynter said the side are optimistic they can maintain their form, even though they are up against another team with play-off aspirations.
Carlisle are just four points off the top seven with tonight’s match at Brunton Park their game in hand.
But Paynter said: “The lads are buzzing, we think we can go throug to the end of the season.
“It’s a really positive attitude we’ve got at the moment, we’re looking forward to all games.
“Carlisle have had a great season and have been pushing for the play-offs so all credit to them.
“Hopefully we can go there and put a dent in that.
“We’re a different team now, we’re playing with confidence and we believe going into every game that we can get the win.”
Tonight’s trip to Cumbria, of course, pits Paynter against his former club.
The 31-year-old left Carlisle last summer after an unhappy time at Brunton Park and a less-than-fruitful relationship with manager Keith Curle.
“That’s one of them things in football, sometimes as a player you don’t have the best of times at certain clubs,” he explained.
“I’m over that now and really enjoyng my football here.
“It’s going all right - I think every time I go on the pitch I can score goals.”
And he is in the form to do exactly that and the fact he has just celebrated 500 games as a footballer will not weaken his hunger for more matches and goals.
“When I started off at 16, my main aim was just to get one appearance!” he smiled. “So 15 years down the line to get to 500, I’m really chuffed.
“I’m a young 31 and I want to be playing until my legs give in.”