Teamsheet mix-up leads to Grays Athletic defender playing in goal

Grays Athletic right-back Ryan Mahal (right) was forced to play in goal for an hour

“It was a bit of crazy one. You won’t see this often.”

So says Grays Athletic player-manager Jamie Stuart, who had to play his right-back in goal for an hour during Saturday’s match against Maldon & Tiptree because of a bizarre mix-up when submitting the teamsheet.

When goalkeeper Charlie Burns was forced off with a leg injury in the 30th minute of the Bostik North Division game – the eighth tier of English football – with the score at 0-0, reserve keeper Joe Simmonds readied himself to take the field.

However, unbeknown to him and his manager, Simmonds had not been included on the teamsheet – Stuart had.

Stuart explained to BBC Radio Essex: “My reserve goalkeeper, who was on the bench, his initials are JS.

“So my man that does our teamsheet thought I’d put myself on the bench. It was just a misunderstanding.

“Joe Simmonds has been on the bench for the last few games to cover the keeper role, but obviously there’s been a mistake.”

Having not been recorded on the teamsheet before kick-off, Simmonds was ineligible to play, meaning defender Ryan Mahal took the gloves instead.

Ryan Mahal conceded two goals but won the man of the match award for his efforts

Maldon soon took advantage of the change, racing into a 2-0 lead by the 51st minute, before Mahal pulled off a crucial one-on-one save to prevent a third.

Grays rallied in the second half and captain Stan Muguo brought it back to 2-1 before debutant Tommy Wade grabbed a late equaliser on a memorable afternoon in Essex.

After a happy ending to the unusual story, Stuart was full of praise for his stand-in keeper.

“Ryan stepped up,” he said. “He’s been in goal before and I thought he did very well.”

As well as Mahal played, Stuart will be particularly careful when filling in his teamsheet for Grays’ next match.

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