Hythe defender Liam Smith produced an heroic display after taking over in goal - scoring one penalty and saving two in a shootout win over Faversham.
Smith has carried a pair of goalkeeper gloves in his kitbag for the last two years, just incase, and his big moment came in the Kent Senior Cup first round tie on Tuesday night after their goalkeeper Henry Newcombe was red-carded.
It was the first time in senior football the 21-year-old had got to show what he could do between the sticks, making several saves as Hythe held out for a 1-1 draw before producing the goods in a penalty shootout that went to sudden-death.
Smith, 21, said: “Just last weekend I showed Henry a pair of gloves I got off Jon Henly (the Tonbridge Angels goalkeeper) that I had in my bag and he asked me why I had them, I said ‘you never know do you?!’ Then funnily enough I needed them.”
Newcombe was sent off on 55 minutes for a professional foul with Hythe 1-0 up. With no sub keeper their six foot centre-half Smith didn’t need asking twice. Faversham did equalise but a fine rearguard display and a couple of decent saves took the tie straight to penalties.
Smith said: “Straight away (after Newcombe was sent off) I said I would do it, I had done it before when I was younger [during his junior days at Tonbridge Angels]. I had only used the gloves before in six-a-side but I started with Henry’s. His hands are like shovels, treble the size of mine, they were ridiculous so I got the others out and went from there.
“I pulled off a few alright saves, somehow managed it. We had done well as a team, down to 10 men, we had one on the bench and he was ill, we were struggling but holding on and they were chucking bodies towards us.
“We had done well to defend for so long and it wasn’t until the full-time whistle went that I realised it was then penalties, I completely forgot it was a Kent Cup game!”
Smith took his gloves off to score the first of the shootout penalties and put them back on to play his part in goal, saving two of the spot-kicks.
“At least one was in the sudden death which I had to save for us to carry on,” he said.
“They missed three. It was all a bit dramatic and I was so happy and buzzing afterwards, it’s most likely never going to happen again.
“The boys couldn’t believe it, they were laughing more than anything. I got a bit of stick, with people saying I was probably better in goal than outfield!”
Smith’s already volunteered to step in during Newcombe’s suspension but new boss at Reachfields, James Rogers, has other ideas.
“The manager said he would try and get someone in so I could go out on pitch which I was a bit gutted about!” he joked.
“At least if he needs another goalkeeper again he knows I can step in.”