Semi-final agony for Reynolds

Chris Wise Lowestoft Town goalkeeper Andy Reynolds has been ruled out of Saturday's FA Vase semi-final return at Whitley Bay after picking up a freak injury in Saturday's first leg.

Chris Wise

Lowestoft Town goalkeeper Andy Reynolds has been ruled out of Saturday's FA Vase semi-final return at Whitley Bay after picking up a freak injury in Saturday's first leg.

The 20-year-old was stretchered off in agony midway through the second half after his right hip popped out as he took a goal-kick and was receiving treatment in hospital while his team-mates were celebrating their superb 4-0 victory at Crown Meadow.

While the main injury soon righted itself, Reynolds was left with a suspected ruptured muscle, which makes the match in the North East a non-starter - and would mean him facing a battle against time to be fit for the final at Wembley on May 11, assuming the Blues don't blow their massive advantage.

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His absence this weekend means fellow youngster Adam Rix will be Lowestoft's last line of defence - while joint managers Micky Chapman and Ady Gallagher have to sort out a new understudy, with a youth team keeper likely to stand in if a short-term replacement cannot be found.

All thoughts yesterday were with Reynolds however, with Chapman keeping his fingers crossed that his No 1 makes a swift recovery from the injury that soured one of the greatest days in the club's history.

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"Everyone feels for Andy right now - the injury couldn't have happened at a worst time," he said. "It's obviously a huge blow for him and it's a huge blow for us too because he's a great lad and is also the best keeper in the league, in my opinion.

"There's no way he will be fit to play on Saturday but he'll be there with us. He has played a huge part in us getting this far in the competition and there is no way we would have left him at home. I know he'd rather be playing - but at least he will be there cheering us on.

"No-one is talking about Wembley yet because the job is only half done. But obviously that will be in the back of the lad's mind. It sounds like he is going to be out for between three weeks and a month so there is a good chance he would be fit. But, as I said, all we are thinking about at the moment is the second leg at Whitley Bay."

So while Reynolds' plight is uppermost in everyone's minds at Crown Meadow the focus now is preparing his understudy Rix for the game of his life, with the youngster sure to be put under extreme pressure as the hosts attempt to claw themselves back into the tie.

"Adam came on on Saturday in difficult circumstances and did a good job - and we have every confidence in him for Saturday," said Chapman.

"We brought him in from Kirkley last summer to give Andy some competition and he has proved to be a very good signing.

"I think his presence in the squad has pushed Andy on - and now he has got the chance to show what he can do himself. Our main concern now is getting someone on the bench to provide back-up for Adam, because obviously we wouldn't want to go into a match of this importance without a substitute goalkeeper, especially when we have got a four-goal lead.

"We have a got a few goalkeepers in youth team that might be a possibility, while we'll also be examining the possibility of bringing in a temporary replacement, although from what I understand we would have needed to have done that before the first leg. We'll examine all the possibilities and it's just a case of seeing what happens."

Meanwhile Reynolds is now off crutches and keeping his fingers crossed that he will be fit to return to action in the not too distant future.

"Obviously I am really disappointed to be missing the second leg but Adam is a good keeper and he'll do a good job for the team," he said.

"The hip is fine now but I have suffered some muscle damage and the treatment started today. It doesn't feel too bad and I've been told I should be able to play again within a month, which is good.

"I'll start worrying about Wembley if we get through. At the moment all I'm thinking about is Whitley Bay - and it won't be easy watching from the sidelines, I can tell you!"

As for the moment when he realised his big day had turned sour, the former Ipswich youth player added: "I just went to take a goal-kick and when I went through with it I felt excruciating pain, like nothing I have ever felt before.

"I knew immediately I was in trouble. It's a shame it had to happen in the biggest match I have ever played in - but that's the way it goes and the fact that the lads went on to get another goal after I had gone off cheered me up a bit."

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