Hartlepool United midfielder Mark Shelton recalls ‘weird’ penalty shoot-out and explains shrug in promotion final victory over Torquay United

Four penalties had been taken and missed in the penalty shoot out between Hartlepool United and Torquay yet next up Mark Shelton was the calmest man in Ashton Gate.
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The Pools midfielder stepped up to kick-start his side’s 5-4 penalty shoot-out victory in the National League promotion final on Sunday.

Despite a place in the Football League being at stake, Shelton admitted he was unusually calm as he walked up to convert from 12 yards.

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“I don’t want this to come out the wrong way but I didn’t feel pressure one bit and I don’t know why,” he said.

"I feel more pressure in the week leading up to the game when we do the penalties in training trying to replicate a shoot out, I felt more nervous doing it at EDC than I did doing it in the play-off final.

"It was a weird moment. I’ve never taken a penalty before in my life by the way, never in a game and I don’t get on them in training, I’m usually nowhere near them.

"The gaffer said after extra-time is there anybody that doesn’t want one and no one put their hand up and I was thinking that there are definitely a few that don’t want one!

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"The gaffer had already written down the five players he wanted to take one and he read them out and I was third which I was happy with because it shows he has a lot of confidence in me which is credit to him.

Mark Shelton's penalty helped Pools to promotion success on Sunday.Mark Shelton's penalty helped Pools to promotion success on Sunday.
Mark Shelton's penalty helped Pools to promotion success on Sunday.

"I wanted to take one because I didn’t want to be stood there really confident and have someone who is not as confident take one so I was happy it was me. I’m happy to score and their keeper was trying to give me a bit when I was walking up.”

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As Shelton walked up to take his penalty, Torquay goalkeeper Lucas Covolan – who scored a 95th-minute equaliser for The Gulls – attempted to psych out the 24-year-old.

Shelton’s response was to simply shrug at his opponent and give something back.

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“I’ve seen the video where I put my arms up when I’m walking up to take it,” he added.

"[Covolan] said, ‘I know where you’re going’ and I said ‘no you don’t know where I’m going because I don’t even know where I’m going so there’s no way you can know!’

"He said ‘you’re going down the middle’ and I told him, ‘I think so yeah’. My plan was to watch the keeper and I ran to the ball half looking at the ball half looking at the keeper and I was hoping he would go early so I could put it the other way but he just stood still so I put it to the right and he stood still and I was thinking, that’s because I told him I was going down the middle that. He listened to me.

“I didn’t realise he was giving it to the lads as much as he was. It’s all part of it and I’ve been guilty of saying things to players to put them off but it just makes things that extra bit sweeter when we did it in the end.”

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