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Spot shock but Speare smiles

A COLLECTIVE gasp went up from more than 2,000 Stanley fans when John Coleman made his shock substitutions.

JAMIE Speare faces the press after the match
JAMIE Speare faces the press after the match

A COLLECTIVE gasp went up from more than 2,000 Stanley fans when John Coleman made his shock substitutions.

In the 120th minute, off came goalkeeper Jamie Speare and on came Jon Kennedy while top scorer Paul Mullin made way for Gordon Armstrong. Speare's unhappy reaction was shown to the millions watching as he looked in disbelief at the dug-out. He bounced the ball down, mouthed something (he hopes his mum can't lip-read!) but was quick to regain his composure and wish his mate Kennedy all the luck in the world.

"I didn't know what was happening and I couldn't believe it really as it is the second time I haven't finished a game on Sky," said Speare who was sent off in the Conference opener at Aldershot.

"Coley had apparently decided a couple of days before to do that but I didn't know anything about it and I don't think JK did either. I was obviously disappointed and it is hard to hide it. But by the time I had got to JK, I wished him all the best. It wouldn't have done anybody any good by just storming past him as it isn't his fault - Coley made the decision and I have got to respect that. I was always going to get behind him and the team."

Kennedy did almost get his fingers to Garreth O'Connor's third effort before Karl Broadhurst blasted over the fourth.

"He was unlucky with the third penalty but I wish Broadhurst hadn't blazed it over and JK had saved it and then it would justify the switch. As it happened the first three were well-taken penalties and any keeper would have struggled to get to them."

Speare, who was back doing his job at a bank, admitted it was tough watching the sudden death but had faith in all of his team-mates.

"I would always trust Lutel to score - I would always back him. And Rory had won the penalty competition in training in midweek. Cav used to take them regularly and Steve Flitcroft can hit a dead ball well. And Paul Howarth is the same - as long as they all hit the target that was half the battle won."

Speare admitted he had enjoyed the 120 minutes - despite the icy weather.

"Steve Fletcher was a handful but I saved a couple and he screwed a good effort wide. I know I went walkabout a few times but Coley told me to do that. He told me not to worry and just come out as much as possible which I tried to do."

Now the former Everton trainee will wait and see if his name is in the number one slot for tomorrow's game at Leigh RMI.

"I hope I have done enough to keep my place. I feel I have done well enough for the last four games but it is Coley's decision. I want to be there but we will have to wait and see."

At this moment, however, Speare has captured the heart of the nation because of his disappointment - and Coleman's gamble. He has been on Sky News, the BBC had been in touch and a number of national newspapers.

"My phone has rung quite a few times!" he said.


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