Backup goalkeepers quick to answer the call

Goalkeepers being thrown in at the deep end in critical matches – as could happen at Brisbane Roar this week in the wake of two serious injuries to first and second choice keepers – is nothing new.

Lawrence Thomas, now well established as Victory’s No.1, got his big chance in the 2014/15 finals series after first choice Nathan Coe got injured near the end of the home and away campaign.

Thomas had only played a handful of games up to that point but showed few nerves through the finals series, keeping a clean sheet in the title decider in which Victory beat Sydney 3-0.

Mat Ryan, the current Socceroos shot stopper, was another who had little big game experience (although a whole lot more than Brisbane teenager Tomislav Bilic) when he was between the posts for Central Coast in their penalty shootout grand final loss to Brisbane in 2011.

Ryan had only made his A-League debut at the start of that season but made a huge impression in the grand final, which ended 2-2 with Brisbane winning on penalties.

Current Sydney goalkeeper Danny Vukovic had little advance warning of his debut in September 2005: the club’s first choice, John Crawley, suffered a season ending hip injury early in the campaign and the 20-year-old Vukovic was thrown into action, saving a penalty from Melbourne Victory star Archie Thompson on debut.

None of that tops the story of the then Aston Villa goalkeeper Nigel Spink, however. He was on the bench for the Villa in the 1982 European Cup final against Bayern Munich when first choice Jimmy Rimmer was injured. Spink, who had only made one previous appearance for the Midlands club, was thrust into action and answered the call magnificently, keeping a clean sheet as Villa won 1-0.

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