SIX months of agony and anxiety ended happily for goalkeeper Danny Hurst on Saturday, when he made his first-team comeback for Fleetwood Town and helped them return to winning ways.
Hurst gave a confident and assured display, including a few spectacular saves, as Town bounced back from successive Blue Square Bet Premier defeats with a 3-1 win at Newport County.
The keeper, who played a major part in the Highbury club’s promotion to the top flight of non-league, started the season at manager Micky Mellon’s No.1 but then suffered a badly fractured shoulder at Crawley in September.
During the arduous process of rehabilitation and regaining fitness, Hurst has seen Scott Davies establish himself between the Town posts.
But after last Tuesday’s 4-0 drubbing at Darlington, Mellon decided to make the switch and Hurst seized his big chance in South Wales.
Hurst said: “I’m thrilled for all the lads that we managed to get the three points we needed because results have not been great of late, but everyone really put a shift in. They worked for each other.”
As for his own performance, he said: “I took a couple of early crosses, which settled me down. I was under a bit of pressure for one of them and that was good. Everything took care of itself from then on. I was delighted with the saves but that’s what I’m there for.
“It’s been a long season for me already. The lads went on a great run and it was frustrating because you want to be part of that. “You just have to keep your head down and train and every day, like I did, and thankfully now it has all come together.”
Mellon explained his decision to make the switch. “Danny is a top keeper and so is Scott, but we just felt we had to be fair to Danny.
“He has had to sit and watch while Scott has done brilliantly. Scott will be a top-class keeper, absolutely no doubt about that.
“We also know Danny is very composesd and has done this before, and we felt it was the right thing to do.”
Hurst revealed that Davies was quick to congtratulate him on his recall. “Scott was the first to come over and he has been brilliant. There’s a good rivalry between us and we both want the shirt. At the minute I’ve got it back and it’s up to me to keep hold of it.”
There was one anxious moment at Newport, when Hurst went down and needed treatment. He added: “I tried to get across to tip the ball over bar and one of their lads went down the back of my calf. It was a bit painful but I’ll be fine.”
That means Hurst will almost certainly keep his place for this weekend’s home clash with second-placed Crawley, and Davies will spend another Saturday alongside Mellon in the dug-out.
Hurst knows all about sitting there but at least the “mad box”, as Mellon describes it, is anything but dull. The manager said: “If anyone thinks this management game is easy, come and stand in that mad box for 90 minutes and experience the highs and lows. It’s a tough place to be but the best place in the world when you win.”