The sight of defender Ritchie Sutton back in a Mansfield Town shirt last weekend just four days after being stretchered off during the Chesterfield game was both welcome and a big surprise last Saturday.
Sutton was warmly applauded from the field on the Tuesday night by both sets of fans and players with heavy strapping around his face and neck suggesting a serious injury after 12 worrying minutes down on the turf.
But, thankfully, doctors said Sutton had escaped with just concussion from his heavy collision with keeper Alan Marriott and the player wasn’t about to give up his place in the side without a fight.
Ahead of tomorrow’s game at Torquay United, Sutton said: “I was happy to play.
“I spoke to the gaffer a few times before and it felt right. I had been in a good run of form and didn’t want it to end with a situation like that.
“I think it looked worse than it was. My wife was scared by some of the messages she was getting as someone thought I had a broken neck.
“I was blacking out and stuff so they had to take precautions. But I just had a couple of days off and felt fine.
“I think he (Marriott) took three of us out! The ball was in the air a long time and he made the decision to come. I didn’t know and I had to make the challenge and couldn’t pull out. But no one was at fault.
“It was a weird feeling. I had never been in that position before. Things just kept going black, though I was conscious and knew what was going on. I thought the floodlights had gone out at one point and that’s when they made the decision to take me off.
“I was a bit groggy afterwards and Rheady (Matt Rhead) looked after me and carried my bag.
“The supporters were brilliant. I can remember them cheering and I think I doubled my Twitter followers from that situation, so it’s nice to know everyone was so concerned about me.”
However, Sutton’s return saw Stags held 1-1 by Bristol Rovers after a late Pirates equaliser.
“I think a lethargic performance sums it up. But at 1-0 up I never thought we would concede,” he said.
“Even though we were under a lot of pressure and they were creating a lot of chances, I thought it was one of those games where we didn’t play well but still picked up three points.
“When their goal came it was a bit of a fluke. If Keiran (Murtagh) had not touched it then Mazza (keeper Alan Marriott) would have lapped it up. Keiran was unlucky. It could have been anyone making that challenge – and it was a challenge that had to be made.
“The two Chesterfield games were close together and took a lot of energy out of us, but there are no excuses. We felt good and we had fresh legs.
“Conditions were difficult and we never really got going. We have to put it down as a lesson learned and move on from that.”
Now Mansfield face trips to early strugglers Torquay and then Bury on Tuesday and Sutton added: “We now have two away games against teams down there and, having dropped points at home, I think the pressure is off a bit away from the home crowd.
“I feel confident we can pick up some good points in these next two games.
“I have played at Torquay before when I was at Stafford so I know what to expect. They are a good team and a good club so we will have to be on our game.
“I think we have been exceeding everyone’s expectations. But we know what good players we have got here and we set the bar very high.
“We are not looking to finish mid-table. There are more chances up for grabs this season with three up and then four in the play-offs and, now we have weighed the league up, we think we have more then enough here.”