ANDY Rafferty can’t thank Scott Flinders enough for helping him become the goalie he is – even though he is now desperately trying to keep him out of the team.
The keeper, plucked from non-league football by then boss Chris Turner in the summer of 2010, came in for his first start of the season at Portsmouth on Saturday.
Rafferty replaced Scott Flinders, who had been suffering from migraines in the build up to the trip to Fratton Park.
The 25-year-old hopes what he has shown on the training field and now on the pitch could see him retain his place against Chesterfield, even though Flinders will be available for selection.
And Rafferty paid thanks to both goalkeeping coach, Jim Provett, and, in particular, Flinders for their help and support.
“We are a tight unit, Jim, Scott and myself,” said the former Crook and Guisborough stopper who counts Flinders as a friend as well as rival.
“Scotty’s a good lad, he helps me out.
“If I’ve ever got any questions he’s always willing to point me in the right direction.”
Rafferty did the goalkeeping team proud on Saturday with an outstanding display.
He was as busy in the first three minutes as you would expect a keeper to be in a full game.
Rafferty was beaten only once in those frantic early minutes while he made a superb penalty save to deny Ryan Taylor.
He was solid as a rock thereafter and relished the atmosphere generated by the 15,000 crowd.
“I thoroughly enjoyed myself to be honest,” he said.
“It’s not very often you get the chance to play in front of such a big crowd.
“I got a few comments from behind the goal about going home in an ambulance!
“But I thrive on stuff like that, that’s what I got into professional football for.
“If you don’t enjoy playing football on a stage like that, you shouldn’t be playing football.”
In fact, Rafferty was calmness personified.
It would have been easy to have suffered nerves or tried too hard, but he looked as though he belonged in League Two football.
“If you try to do too much it could lead to a mistake,” he said.
“A lot of the stuff I needed to do we work on during the week and it paid off.
“In my opinion I have been ready since the start of the season, so hopefully I have given the gaffer a headache.”