RYAN Mahal says that donning the goalkeeper’s gloves during Grays Athletic’s 2-2 draw with Maldon & Tiptree was a ‘crazy experience’.

The full back replaced Charlie Burns between the sticks on the half hour mark after the goalkeeper was forced off through injury and a mix-up resulted in reserve goalkeeper Joe Simmonds being unable to enter the fray.

And Mahal, 23, admitted he enjoyed his time in the no.1 jersey.

Mahal said: “It was really crazy. There was a mix-up with the teamsheet because they thought that JS stood for Jamie Stuart, when it actually meant Joe Simmonds.

“I looked around and thought the midfielders were winning their battle in the middle and up front we were dangerous, so I went in goal.

“I had missed the last four games as well and Callum Thompson had played in my place in those games, so I knew that he could come on and fill in at full back.

“I have been in goal quite a lot in training sessions for my team when we do five or seven-a-side matches at the end.

“When I missed the last four games, I also went in goal during the warm-up, so the boys had a few shots against me then as well.

“This was totally different though because it was a competitive match, but I thought I made a few good saves and did quite well.”

Maldon & Tiptree took the lead when Jimmy Shepherd fired home a corner from the edge of the penalty area, despite Mahal getting a hand to the strike.

And the Jammers doubled their lead six minutes after the break when former East Thurrock United defender Joe Ellul nodded home a Kieran Bailey corner.

Despite the goalkeeping drama of the first half, Grays fought back and reduced the deficit when Stanley Muguo pounced on a goalkeeping error from away shot-stopper Christopher Haigh on 79 minutes.

Stuart’s side pushed for an equaliser and it came three minutes from time.

Tommy Wade, who was making his debut after joining the club last week, flicked home to clinch a share of the spoils.

And Mahal, who picked up the man of the match award after the Isthmian North clash, felt that a draw was a fair result thanks to Grays’ battling performance in unusual circumstances.

Mahal added: “When you put your full back in goal and go 2-0 down, most people wouldn’t have given us a chance of getting something from the game.

“But the boys dug in and what a result that was due to the circumstances.

“We are still targeting a play-off place because Jamie has put a great squad together and we are only getting stronger.”

Grays boss Stuart was full of praise for his players after they battled back to secure a point against play-off chasing Maldon & Tiptree at Parkside.

Stuart said: “It was like everything was against us, but we kept on fighting.

“The players kept going and never gave up, so they deserve a lot of credit.

“I gave the teamsheet to the secretary, as usual, but there was a mistake because they thought JS was for me and not Joe Simmonds.

“But Ryan went in goal, got his hand to the first goal and did well for us.”