Jamaican international delighted with home Grecians debutJOEL GRANT said his afternoon couldn't have been better after he played a part in Christian Ribeiro's winning goal in what was his first St James Park appearance for the Grecians.
After returning from international duty with Jamaica on Thursday, Joel was named on the bench for the Hartlepool match, but replaced Matt Oakley with fifteen minutes to go before feeding Clinton Morrison to set up Ribeiro for the dramatic winner.
"I was hoping to get back and be involved today," Joel said. "The boys had a fantastic result last week, so arriving here today I wasn't sure whether I was going to be on the bench or not. Once I knew that I was on the teamsheet, I felt that I might get the chance to make my home debut, and to be fair, it couldn't have gone better. To come on at 0-0 and then for the team to score in the last minute was brilliant.
"It's been a familiar theme this week - with Jamaica, we had two games, home and away, and after a defeat at home, we needed to win by two clear goals away. Someone scored in the last few minutes for us there too, for us to scrape through, so it's been the sort of week where I've been urging the lads on to just get over that line. To get the win in both games has been really good, and particularly this one, because it was my first game at home. Hopefully that's a good start for me to build on."
While Ribeiro got the winner, goalkeeper Bobby Olejnik was equally influential in sealing the result, getting down low to make a penalty save from Rakish Bingham. Grant had plenty of kind words for his team-mates.
"The two games I've seen at home, and in particular the game against York City, they defended, got men behind the ball and slowed the pace of the game," Joel said. "Today, I thought Hartlepool were slightly different, because they had a couple of chances themselves, and they'll feel they could have nicked it. The boys showed good character today, and had the patience that we needed. I thought it was a great goal from Ribs.
"Bobby, from what I've seen of him, looks like a very good goalkeeper. He did what good goalkeepers do; at the crucial time, he saved us. That was the same as the back four - I remember Tilly [Jordan Tillson] making a couple of good blocks, and the back four as a whole did very well. Going forward, it was the responsibility of myself and the other attackers to get the goal that would relieve the pressure on the defence by getting a goal. In the end, one of the defenders popped up with it, so it was a brilliant all-round performance.
"I just remember having the ball in the corner, and when you have someone like Clinton Morrison, who can hold the ball up so well, it makes the attackers' job easier. You can give it to him; you can run off him, and I just spotted him in the box and to be honest it was easy to just roll it in to his feet before he did the rest. Ribs made a good run off him and finished well.
"Everybody wants to play - we've got twenty-plus players in contention, but what's important right now is just to get my match fitness up and to take my chances when they come. If that's next week, then brilliant. If not, I'll just keep going."