After a serious facial injury to goalkeeper David Raya and with all three substitutes being used, midfielder Richie Smallwood stepped in between the sticks for the last 15 minutes of Blackburn Rovers 1-1 draw with West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon.
The 27-year-old midfielder told the Lancashire Telegraph that he had no prior experience to playing as a goalkeeper before stepping up on Saturday to replace the injured David Raya – who was stretchered off after a collision with West Brom striker Jay Rodriguez.
With just 10 men and a midfielder in goal, Rovers held on to take a point back to Ewood Park, after Harrison Reed’s curling strike drew them level.
“Only when I was younger playing with my friends every night, when it was my turn I’d go in, or at five-a-side when you’re playing in the big goals and you dive about,” Smallwood told the Lancashire Telegraph.
“I didn’t know what any of the distances were or anything, it’s really strange. From goal kicks I felt fine, confident, it was the crosses that were really hard to judge on where to be.”
“When I saw them asking for the stretcher I knew he (Raya) was definitely coming off.”
The 27-year-old also revealed that versatile midfielder Elliott Bennett stepped forward to go in goal as well, but Smallwood insisted and Bennett remained outfield.
“I said that I’d go in goal and then Benno said he was really good, but I said ‘no, I’ve got this, you go and keep the shape of the team and Reedy can work in the centre and we’ll be fine’.
“Thankfully it stayed that way.
“I thought there were going to be lots of shots, there were more crosses, but I did think they would take on more shots with me being in goal.”
Despite picking up a point, Rovers dropped to 12th in the Championship table, as Swansea City, Queens Park Rangers and Birmingham City all won, rising above them in the table. However, Mowbray’s side remain level on points with them and only three points away from 6th place Derby.