Ryan Johnson preparing for a 'different challenge' for Hartlepool United at Stockport County as he describes ‘amazing’ feeling of scoring in front of fans
Ryan Johnson has emerged as one of the unsung heroes in Hartlepool United’s squad this season.
While the likes of Rhys Oates, Luke Armstrong, Nicky Featherstone and Gary Liddle have taken plenty of deserved plaudits, Johnson has calmly gone about his business well.
Despite being initially signed as a back up defender on a short term deal, Johnson has become one of the most consistent features in Hartlepool’s starting line-up.
And when fans finally returned to Victoria Park last month, Johnson was the player to score the first competitive goal in front of a crowd at Victoria Park since February 2020.
His bullet header in the 4-0 win over Weymouth got the home fans rocking from an early stage.
“I hadn’t scored in a while so the players were getting onto me saying I’m due one so it was just nice to get that one in,” he admitted. “The feeling when that went in and the fans roar was just amazing.”
That feeling of elation rose a notch higher last weekend as Pools beat Bromley to set up a play-off semi-final at Stockport County this Sunday (12pm kick-off).
“It’s an amazing opportunity for the lads individually and collectively,” Johnson continued.
"It’s massive for the club as well so we know the importance of it. We just need to concentrate on Sunday and get the job done.
“It’s going to be a different challenge to the Bromley game being away and their fans being in the ground but it’s a challenge that we are ready for and I’m looking forward to it so we’ll see how it goes.
“They are a strong squad and they’re a strong squad all around the pitch so I think it will be a great game because we’re a strong squad as well.
“I think we’ve got to implement our game pretty early on in the game to quiet their fans and disrupt their atmosphere so hopefully we can do that and then it becomes a case of focusing on the football and not the crowd.”
He added: “This season has been unprecedented and you just have to take it as it is. It’s been a long season but it’s out of our control and we want to make sure it’s another week longer and focus on the controllable really.”