Ian Craney hopes Stanley can put on a show at Plymouth tomorrow and win their first away match of the season for Tom Bender.
The on-loan Colchester defender suffered serious concussion when he collided with Reds keeper Ian Dunbavin and Tranmere’s Lucas Akins in the 39th minute of Tuesday’s abandoned Johnstone’s Paint Trophy game.
The 18-year-old was treated on the pitch with oxygen and a drip for almost 30 minutes before being taken to Blackburn Hospital where thankfully a scan found nothing wrong except concussion and he was released on Wednesday.
Team-mate Craney admitted the whole incident had shocked the Reds – but that they will pull together in a bid to get a victory for Bender tomorrow.
"We want to win for him," said the 29-year-old vice captain.
"Tuesday really shook everyone up but we have to regroup, as the club tends to do in these situations and these things make you closer.
"It’s an added incentive for us to go out and get our first away win of the season. We want to do it for Tom."
Craney admitted he didn’t realise how bad Bender’s situation was on Tuesday as a high ball into box was headed by the defender but he was collided with both the Tranmere man and Dunbavin and fell to the ground.
"I just thought it was a little knock and play had gone on when Kevin McIntyre went over to Tom and started waving the physio on.
"We saw he wasn’t moving and I went over and his eyes were open but he was unconscious.
"It freaked me out to be honest, as it did with the other lads.
"We knew it was something serious and then we had to wait around while Tom had treatment.
"It was hard just waiting on the pitch with nothing to do and we were all really concerned but couldn’t do anything to help.
"We could see the oxygen and the drips and obviously rumours started going around that he had broken his neck or even worse."
It took half an hour for the ambulance to arrive and the players went to the changing rooms with the idea that they would come out and play the eight minutes left of the half and then the second half. However referee Rob Lewis consulted both bosses John Coleman and Les Parry and both agreed to abandon the game.
"It really scared us," continued Craney. "You are just going to play football and then can end up in hospital and it does make you think.
"I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and, when we went in the changing rooms, a lot of the lads were upset.
"Bavs was obviously as he had been a part of it and Kevin¿McIntyre and Kevin Long – to be honest it had affected all of us.
"Tom is only a young lad, he is a good lad and so bubbly around the club and it was hard to take in.
"We were all worried sick but we were all in touch with each other all night, passing news around, and then we heard he was in a stable condition.
"That was the biggest relief and it was happy days really that he had come through it.
"We all came into training on Wednesday morning and we were all shook up by it but thankfully he is OK, although we have heard he can’t remember being away with Wales Under 19s last week – I am sure it will come back to him.
"Now all we want is for him to get better, recover from the concussion and hopefully be back with us in a couple of weeks."
Bender, whose dad Lee was at the match and went to hospital with him, is on a season-long loan from Colchester and has returned home to recover.
Stanley have knocks tomorrow for their first ever trip to Home Park to defender Dean Winnard (ankle), who has missed the last two games, and captain Andy Procter and Long.
"It’s a big game for us and Plymouth won their first game the other week," said Coleman, whose side last won away in February.
"We just need a win and, if we get it, Tom will have been a part of it. We just have to build on our home form and build on last week’s win over Aldershot."
AS the Observer went to press, Stanley were hoping to rearrange the Tranmere second round clash in the JP Trophy for next Wednesday (12 October) at the Crown Ground.