MANAGER Quentin Townsend was forced into a role as an emergency goalkeeper on Monday – but his biggest save will be seeing Pershore Town end any relegation worries this weekend.
Townsend had to pull on the keeper’s gloves for three minutes against champions Bromsgrove Sporting when Sean Edwards pulled out just before kick-off with a sciatic problem and deputy Andy Yarnold, who answered the SOS, was on his way to the ground.
Yarnold arrived three minutes into the match and came on as a substitute after Townsend, who played for the old Bromsgrove Rovers, had had to start, getting three touches of the ball.
Despite a 3-0 home defeat to the worthy title winners, 16th placed Pershore can secure their status in Midland League Division One on Saturday when they face Stafford Town – the team immediately below them – at King George V Stadium.
Pershore had edged closer to safety with Saturday’s stunning 2-1 victory at high-flying Leicester Road and now, with two games left, they lie five points ahead of second bottom Pelsall Villa.
Townsend praised a depleted squad for their endeavours over Easter and they will be strengthened for the Stafford contest with skipper Shaun Griffiths back after suspension and top scorer Jamie Clarke and new recruit Harry Allen both back after training with the GB Deaflympics squad.
“We know how important Saturday is and I’ve got every faith in the players to be ready for the challenge,” said Townsend.
“There’s a great togetherness in the squad and everybody works for each other. Whether they are playing Bromsgrove or Stafford, the players don’t care.
“They are enjoying their football, whoever they play, and that application, that positive attitude has turned around our season after a horrible run.
“That will to fight for each other has made all the difference.”
Such character was in evidence on Saturday when a patched-up Pershore sealed a double against then third placed Leicester Road.
Tunde Ajibade, pushed up front, was the inspiration, bagging the first goal before Reece Jacobs added a second before half time. As Leicester pushed forward, Yarnold then kept the hosts at bay until Matthew Stenson’s late goal.
“Tunde has played up front for me before at Southam but that was the first time he has been a striker for Pershore. He’s an awkward customer and caused them real problems,” said Townsend.
“Dean Waldron slotted into defence too because we had no Griff (Griffiths) and he was excellent too, but it was a real team effort.”
On Monday, however, it was Sporting’s strength in depth which finally saw them home.
“I think the Saturday game took a lot out of us and we looked tired mentally,” said Townsend. “We’ve only got a small squad.
“When Bromsgrove made their subs on 70 minutes they took off their front three and brought on Andy Nicol, Chrisi Conway and Tom Craine. They are three strikers who would walk into any other team in this league. That’s the difference.”