IT was not a triallist that proved to be a surprise star for Rovers at Cleethorpes – it was boss Dean Saunders.
The 48-year-old former Wales international striker made an enforced cameo during the late stages of his side’s 4-2 win at Cleethorpes Town.
And – as he seemingly was destined to – Saunders found the back of the net, winning a bet in the process.
He said: “The boys were betting me on the bench that I wouldn’t score – a silly bet.
“James Husband was injured, I looked around to see who I could sent on.
“It was either me or Butts (goalkeeping coach Lee Butler).
“There was nobody else to come on and I thought I’d be a better centre forward than Butts.”
Wearing an ill-fitting shirt, the wrong colour shorts, no shin pads and his watch still on his wrist, Saunders became the star of the show during the late stages of Rovers’ maiden friendly.
With his first touch, he attempted an audacious lob of the keeper from the half way line and a huge grin spread across his face as the ironic cheers went up around the ground.
But real cheers would follow as the crowd – the majority of which was made up of Rovers supporters – got the goal they craved.
Saunders turned back the clock and produced the type of perfectly-timed run a top class striker never forgets how to do.
He arrived to meet a great cut-back from the impressive Jordan Ball and side-footed into the bottom corner.
Saunders said: “It was nice to score again, I forgot what it was like to score in front of a crowd.
“As you could see, my shirt was a bit tight.
“I’m not in the best of condition at the minute but I will be in a few weeks.
“I’ve just earned myself a couple of hundred quid because of the bets so it’s been a good day all round for me.”
Saunders’ goal was the third of the afternoon for Rovers, taking them into a 3-0 lead following Chris Brown’s first half effort and a penalty in the early stages of the second half from Ball.
Youth team graduate Ball netted again in the dying stages with a neat finish before Rovers conceded two soft goals in injury time.
Rovers are back in North Lincolnshire on Tuesday night with a visit to Grimsby Town.