Shaun Donnellan. Photo: Darren Woolley
After spending 10 months on the sidelines recovering from a hamstring operation, Shaun Donnellan returned to Maidenhead United's first team on Saturday and played a crucial part in ending a run of four straight defeats.
Playing in a slightly unusual position on the right of the Magpies' back-four, Donnellan kept Erico Sousa quiet - for the most part - and swung in a fantastic first time cross from which Kane Ferdinand headed home United's 83rd minute equaliser.
It was a man-of-the-match performance from the versatile Magpies midfielder and the return of Donnellan is one of the many reasons manager Alan Devonshire is feeling slightly more confident going into this week's games against Kings Lynn Town and Yeovil Town.
It's been a tough 10 months for Donnellan, who cut short last season to undergo surgery in a bid to resolve hamstring problems that have blighted much of his career.
After just a few weeks of training he was thrown back in at the deep end against Grimsby but rewarded his manager and teammates with an impressive display. He was also delighted to have played his part in United's equaliser, swinging in a dangerous cross that Ferdinand turned home at the front post. It was a 'lovely moment' after months of injury torment.
“That was my first game in 10 months,” he said. “I’ve only had a week’s proper training, so it was back in at the deep end.
“I just wanted to crack on with it because the only way to get fit is by playing football matches.
“He (Sousa) is a good player, but I can’t remember many times when he got passed me. I thought I did alright against him.
“It was a positive performance and I thought we created a lot of chances today.
“We could have been one or two up at half-time, but as long as we keep creating the chances, results will come.
“It was a lovely moment. I’ve been itching to play football for a long time.
“I’ve had this injury for seven years so to finally play with the hamstring back in its place, it was a lovely moment.”