'Written in the stars' - Hartlepool United coach reflects on Pools' dramatic promotion
Hartlepool United first team coach Antony Sweeney believes the dramatic way Pools won promotion was ‘written in the stars’ given how the season had unfolded.
The National League play-off final against Torquay United proved to be a promotion final classic as Luke Armstrong gave Pools the lead before Torquay goalkeeper Lucas Covolan headed in a 95th-minute equaliser to take the game to extra-time and penalties.
Pools triumphed 5-4 thanks to Brad James’ stunning save and coach Sweeney, a key member of Dave Challinor’s backroom staff, has been reflecting on the victory.
Sweeney was among the coaching staff and players that took part in the parade around Hartlepool on Friday evening, with thousands of Pools fans lining the streets to share in the celebrations.
Sweeney said: “Now we came out on the right side, it was a fantastic game, especially for any neutrals watching.
"It was action packed and when it goes down to penalty kicks, it’s always tense.
"We started nervously and then grew into it and got the goal which settled us down but fair play to Torquay for putting us on the back foot but I don’t think anyone could have envisaged the goalkeeper scoring but fair play to the lads because I said on the touchline and after the game when we were celebrating, to concede a 94th minute goal is tough to recover from and when it’s the goalkeeper even more so.
"I thought extra-time, they managed to recompose themselves and thankfully Brad James saved the last penalty onto the bar and the rest is history.”
Sweeney added: “Privately, myself and Buster were saying it was just written in the stars with the way the season had unfolded.
"You don’t want to say it publicly until it actually happens, I’ll be honest, that thought process was wavering a bit when the goalkeeper scored and during the shoot out but afterwards, you start thinking of certain times throughout the season and overall we’ve deserved it, we’ve stuck in when we’ve needed to and played some good football.
"We’ve ground out results and overall we’re really pleased.”
The hard work has already started ahead of a busy summer with the new League Two season starting on August 7.
There is no time to waste and Pools are currently negotiating contract talks with those players they hope to retain.