CONCUSSED Chelmsford City defender Mark Haines claimed he was as astonished as anybody to learn the Clarets went on to lose 3-2 at home to Salisbury City when two goals to the good with five minutes left – despite still playing in the game deep into injury time.
Youngster Haines required hospital treatment after a bang to his head in the build-up to Salisbury’s equaliser at Melbourne.
The defeat struck its own blow to Chelmsford’s bid for a top five finish, with Dover Athletic and Basingstoke Town now just two points adrift, but Haines explained he had no recollection of the closing stages.
“I can’t remember anything after the board being put up for the amount of injury time,” he explained as manager Glenn Pennyfather plans for the final two games against Eastleigh and Woking.
“I was in the changing room and asked Ben Nunn the same question about 15 times.
“I’ve watched replays back on the internet and still can’t see clearly what happened to me, although obviously I’ve hit my head somewhere along the line.”
“I had to ask Glenn what the score was a couple of times when he came back in the changing room.
“Once it had sunk in that we’d lost I was in total shock. I was shocked enough they’d even scored one.
“We were in control and if you counted our shots compared to theirs – hitting the bar as well – we could have been out of sight.
“I’ve never played in a game anything like that, and you can probably count on a couple of fingers anyone else outside that match who has.”
The result gave Dover and Basingstoke renewed hope of catching a team who were five points clear in fifth before that game.
Now the Kent club are just behind, while Basingstoke can go one point in front of Chelmsford with their game in hand after beating Havant & Waterlooville 1-0 away on Monday night.
Haines has just established himself back in the side after patiently waiting for his chance from the substitutes’ bench.
The tall centre-half started his career locally with South Woodham Ferrers youth club Fennlands United before spells with West Ham United and Southend United in their younger youth age groups.
He then made a number of appearances for Northampton Town’s reserves during a two-year spell encompassing the 2007/08 campaign.
This preceded a move to Grays Athletic the following season, where he appeared against City in a League Cup clash.
He impressed Pennyfather sufficiently during that and the 2009/10 pre-season schedule to earn a place in the squad via Bob Batchford’s successful reserve team, subsequently becoming the club’s Young Player of the Year.
He made his full debut in a 2-1 win at Woking, who Chelmsford may have to beat at home on the final day.
“I’ve met Garry Hill [Woking boss], and have mates who know him, and he’d like to put one over on Chelmsford City, like any other team does,” said Haines.
“Nobody comes to our ground to lose and it’ll be a great game, whatever happens, with a great atmosphere.
“We all need to pull together, as players and as fans, and get this club promotion.”