FOR Jason Kennedy, the relief was palpable. For all at Hartlepool United it was unequivocal.

All set for a welcome and needed home victory, Pools conceded bang on 90 minutes. The here we go again feeling was to the fore. More home points dropped.

Two minutes later, the club’s never say die spirit proved it does live on.

Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson combined in the Yeovil penalty area. Seeing the former in that sort of position is strange enough in itself, but he showed his usual composure in possession, rolling the ball across goal and Kennedy was there to tap-in.

Boss Craig Hignett was quick to praise his matchwinner: “Jason, the year he’s had…. his career was almost over. I got a text off his agent asking if JK could come and train and I know what a good pro he is. I would have done all I could to help him regardless. He came in and wasn’t far away from the player I know.

“He has a bit of everything, he can tackle – he flew into one today – and he can get around the pitch as well and then gets a winner. If I could have 11 Jason Kennedy’s with the attitude he has then I would.’’

Pools had won only their second came in eight Victoria Park attempts this season.

It was a first win in six, amid a run of two defeats in ten. Hignett said. “Manipulate stats how you want – we have only lost two in ten, but we have drawn too many games.’’

Kennedy was in the right place at the right time to turn home from close range. It was an emotional roller coaster for all.

It was nothing, however, to what Kennedy had been through previously.

Before signing for Pools in the summer, the midfielder was at Carlisle, but he missed 441 days of first-team football through injury.

A pelvis injury confined him to a wheelchair and the prospect of never playing football again lingered.

“To go two / two-and-a-half years of not playing to have 13 games so far this season…. I got told that it may not happen for me again,’’ he reflected.

“I’m enjoying it, loving it and it’s better with results and games like that. I feel good, not missed a day of training so I’m enjoying it.

“It’s been a tough time, when you get told you may never play football again. But in my head I never believed it, I always felt I would get back. I knew if the operation went like it was supposed to I never had any doubt I would play football again.

“Yes, there was times in that period when you are sat in a wheelchair for three months and feeling helpless, but you have to think of the end result and it’s difficult to get there.

“I never gave up, I always believed I would be back. All I’ve known all my life is to play football and I was making sure I got out on the pitch again, regardless of the level. That was the end goal. The rehab to get to the end goal was long and draining, running around the pitch on my own was hard.

“The manager wanted to see me in pre-season and I’d not played many games, he hadn’t seen me train but told me to do what I could and since that day I’ve trained every day, gave me all and got a contract as a reward.’’

Now Pools need to build on Kennedy’s finish, starting at Stockport on Wednesday night.

This was probably Pools’ most complete display of the season. While they saw off Wrexham at home in an entertaining game, this was more determined. They defended well when they had to with Michael Raynes leading at the back, and Fraser Kerr looking more like the centre-half who Pools signed last season.

Gime Toure was again unplayable at times and in midfield Kennedy showed his experience and nous. Referee Steven Copeland allowed the game to flow and let players tackle. Kennedy’s first-half tackle was perfect in taking both man and ball. Lesser officials, and there have been enough of them around this season, wouldn’t have appreciated it.

“I thought we deserved it in the end, dominated and could have took more chances. To concede so late you think ‘oh no’,’’ admitted Kennedy.

“But we dug in, we kept playing football and Feath played a lovely one-two and I was there to tap it in. He is a player who keeps the ball but he’s sharp in those areas and can get a cross in or a shot off.

“We had chances and need to work on killing a gamer off. The front three ran them ragged which gives us impetus to get forward and support them.

“When they scored, as a player you have to keep believing. Hopefully this can give us the belief to keep going and show we can go on and win games.

“A run like that can get you going, they have won seven on the bounce and it’s about momentum, but we need to go to Stockport and win and get up that league.

“The lads here have confidence. Yeovil have been on a good run, but we can mix it with anyone. We need the results to prove it. Everyone involved worked so hard to give us the win.’’