‘It’s something I wasn’t expecting’ – U’s keeper Ross
- Credit: Richard Blaxall
Ethan Ross could hardly have imagined that he might have such a big role to play, during Colchester United’s final run-in and final push towards the League Two play-offs.
Ross made a dramatic U’s debut as a 56th minute substitute at Yeovil on Easter Monday, after fellow keeper Dillon Barnes had been sent off for violent conduct in the aftermath to the Glovers’ opening goal.
The 22-year-old looked solid during the final third of the match, and stood up well to some late pressure in a 1-1 draw at Huish Park.
Barnes now serves a suspension, while fellow senior keeper Rene Gilmartin, the U’s goalkeeping coach, had already been ruled out for the season through injury – although U’s boss John McGreal remained coy about Gilmartin’s injury during yesterday’s press conference.
It means, therefore, that ex-West Brom trainee Ross is likely to make his full debut against promotion contenders MK Dons tomorrow.
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“It’s been a big week for me,” admitted Enfield-born Ross.
“It’s something I wasn’t expecting, and hopefully getting on the pitch for those last 30-odd minutes will help me, especially the fact that I was quite busy.
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“I was able to get stuck into it, and I think I’d prefer to have made my debut that way, when I didn’t have to think too much about it, rather than have a big build-up over a week or so.
“Sometimes you can over-think it, so it was maybe easier to come off the bench that way.
“Obviously when you are on the bench, you are always tuning into the game and are switched onto it.
“But normally, as a (goalkeeping) sub, you only come on because of an injury, which has happened to me before when I was on loan and stuff – but I had never come on after a sending-off.
“I didn’t see what happened, but then obviously the red card came out and I realised that I was coming on here.
“Now it would be brilliant to make my full debut, if selected, and I will play to the best of my ability to help us get a positive result.
“I’m really excited, and I hope the end of this season will see us through to the play-offs.
“The teams in and around us have been inconsistent as well. We just need the odd favour.
“And what an exciting end to the season! I don’t remember a season like this, in this league, with things so up in the air at both ends of the table,” added Ross.
He continued: “All the games are big for us now, and I have to be ready and make sure that I make it count.
“It’s a big opportunity for me, and these chances do not always come around too often.
“If you look at the standard of goalies in this league, except for me and Dill (Dillon Barnes), most of them are a lot older and a lot more experienced. Clubs tend to go for more experienced keepers in this division.
“Therefore any game-time I can get, in League Two, is really valuable.”
Ross had a loan spell in the National League at Maidstone United in January, and he believes those four appearances will stand him in good stead for the challenge ahead.
“Dillon (Barnes) and Reg (Rene Gilmartin) were fit at the time, so it was a target to get some first-team football for a month at least,” explained Ross.
“There had been the prospect of a (loan) move to Braintree being set up at one point as well, but Reg got injured at the time so I was not able to go. I had to provide cover here, but then Maidstone came up.
“I needed that, and it gave me a little more purpose, rather than just day-to-day training. It gave me something to focus on, knowing that I was playing at the end of each week, so I really enjoyed that month and it has stood me in good stead for now.
“I played in some big games in that division, like Leyton Orient away for example, here there was a big crowd.
“So that should help me, if I am thrown in this Saturday,” added Ross, who spend six years at West Brom, including three as a professional, before his move to Colchester last summer.
Ross was indebted to the roles played by the centre-half duo of Frankie Kent and Tom Eastman at Yeovil last weekend.
He confirmed: “Easty will clear the ball all day long. You always need someone like him. I’d say Frankie is the more cultured, but it’s a good balance between the two of them.
“They won all their headers last Monday, so it was quite easy for me with two centre-halves like that in front of me.
“I’m quite a tall lad, so the ball is hung up there, then I will come out and collect it.
“I think it was a point gained last week, and we climbed a place in the league. Now we must focus on MK Dons,” added Ross.