Warrington Rylands midfielder Steven Irwin says he was excited to start in goal for the Blues in their historic derby draw with Warrington Town on Tuesday.
Rylands and the Yellows locked horns for the first time this season in front of over 1500 fans as a James Neild own-goal secured a late draw for Mark Beesley’s side.
Callum Dolan scored twice as they took a two-goal lead into the interval before Kane Drummond restored their two-goal lead after Stefan Mols halved the deficit.
Luke Duffy then pulled a goal back before Neild inadvertently put the ball into his own goal in the dying embers.
The match wasn’t short of drama as Bohan Dixon was sent-off late in the six-goal thriller but prior to kick-off, news broke that former Marine midfielder Steven Irwin would deputise in goal for Rylands.
The shocking development came after an injury to Will Appleyard was followed by Sam Tickle’s recall to parent club Wigan Athletic.
Jody Banim did get an emergency replacement over the line albeit two minutes after the deadline, forcing the caretaker manager to select an outfielder for the historic clash.
Irwin wore the gloves but says he felt more than comfortable going between the sticks. In a whirlwind build-up to the derby, the 32-year-old offered insight from his perspective, he told Off The Park: “We had Will [Appleyard], one of our goalkeepers, last week he got injured and we had Sam Tickle from Wigan.
“I think it was about 3pm yesterday [Tuesday], recalled Sam because they needed him on the bench for their EFL Cup game and I think they had to register him 24 hours before the game. They were trying to get a replacement for us, they offered us one but we couldn’t get the registration done in time, I think it was two minutes over and the league wouldn’t allow it or give us an extra hour to get it done.
“Basically, from then it was like we’ve got no goalkeeper so I said to Jody [Banim], I’ve played there once before for Liverpool U18s, I don’t mind it, when I play with my mates I always used to want to go in goal and have a go.
“I’ve played there quite a bit so I said ‘I’m comfortable doing it if you want me to do it’ so he just said yeah that would be great – so I just done it.”
Despite an advantage on paper for the visitors and the prospect of the hosts looking to capitalise on the midfielders unnatural position, they didn’t manage to.
And with his previous experience during his time with Liverpool’s youth set-up and time in goal playing with his friends, Irwin reiterated his confidence.
He continued: “To be honest, I was quite comfortable and confident, shot-stopping wise I’d be pretty confident because I used to love going in goal so I’ve done it quite a bit so I wasn’t too fussed.
“Obviously, I knew they were going to put balls in the balls in the box and bombard us a little bit – that’s where you might struggle.
“It’s one of them we were just trying to defend as much as we can, if there was one for me to try and get ahold of then just go for it. I was quite excited for it to be honest.
“It was a bit of a lively one, I had ale thrown me and all that while I was in goal – it was a good start,” he said on the match.
“It was alright, I enjoyed it, it’s what you want to play in front of, for the first derby for Warrington that’s what we wanted, it turned out to be a great atmosphere and a great game to go with it.”
Rylands have moved to rectify their goalkeeping problem signing Joel Torrance on loan from Salford City. Despite an assured performance in his competitive debut in goal, the midfielder expects to return to his natural position for this weekend’s FA Trophy clash with Nantwich Town.
“We probably had one goalkeeper, we haven’t had one on the bench most games and stuff like that – I think he’ll probably look at me Jody and think he’s got a sub ‘keeper there now.
“As a team going forward, we’ve been ahead in a lot of games and let the lead slip, that’s something we’re trying to look on. The positives we can take, everyone pulling together in the troubles we had, I think it’s massive going forward but I think I’ll be back in midfield from next week.”