Everything pops into place for Reynolds

On an afternoon when Lowestoft Town were not short on heroes, one performance at Hillheads on Saturday stood out like a sore hip - that of goalkeeper Andy Reynolds.

On an afternoon when Lowestoft Town were not short on heroes, one performance at Hillheads on Saturday stood out like a sore hip - that of goalkeeper Andy Reynolds.

The 19-year-old made a miraculous return between the posts for Town's crunch FA Vase semi-final second leg match, having been ambulanced to hospital after dislocating his hip at Crown Meadow seven days earlier.

The injury was expected to comprehensively rule the keeper out of Saturday's game, with Reynolds himself admitting it would be hard to watch such a crucial match from the sidelines.

But he obviously took that thought to heart and after a week of intensive treatment, the keeper was back in the number one jersey pulling off vital saves to preserve as much of Town's first leg cushion as he could - in between his team-mates popping back his sporadically dislocating hip.

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“My hip dislocated three times and the players had to put it back in themselves, so I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them,” said Reynolds. “It's not normal to do that sort of thing but it's a one-off game and now were standing here and on May 11, we'll be at Wembley. It was all worth it now, all worth it.

“The physios have done an amazing job, working with me all week, every day. I've been down the swimming pool and had an ultra sound. It's been a thankless, thankless task - especially now standing here in pain - but it's all been worth it.

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“The decision was made in the morning. The manager asked me if I'd be fit enough to start, I did the warm up and it felt fine, if a little bit slower than normal and the start of the game I was fine, apart form conceding three goals in the first 20 minutes.”

Reynolds admitted that, with Town's first leg advantage almost completely wiped away and 70 minutes of the second leg remaining, he was questioning whether he was the right man to be wearing the gloves.

“I was wondering whether I was doing myself justice by playing,” added the former Ipswich trainee. “Obviously Adam [Rix] was on the bench and he was raring to go. He'd trained well this week and was keen, and I was almost thinking; am I doing myself justice?

“But I had to stick at it. I didn't want the management to waste a substitution to bring on another goalkeeper and credit to Whitley. They played some fantastic football in the first half.”

Reynolds decision to stay on the pitch proved the right one, as the stopper produced several quality saves, made all the more impressive in the knowledge the keeper was bursting through a plethora of pain barriers.

“Had I thought how much this is going to hurt when I land and the hip dislocates, I'd have probably changed my mind, but just out of instinct, you dive and get in the way, and thankfully the players responded quickly enough to see I was on the floor.”

Joint manager Ady Gallagher said of his heroic stopper: “Andy at the end epitomised the effort. He's had a dislocated hip and for him to play in this game is a fantastic effort by our medical team.

“He was so gutsy. Every time he went down we thought we were going to have to bring him off but he kept waving at the bench saying 'I'm staying on'. The save he made two minutes from time was just absolutely fantastic.”

Town midfielder Jamie Godbold added: “He was different class, even with one leg and half a hip. He's so courageous and I love him to bits.”

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