A whole new ball game for Andy Lonergan

First published in Sport The Bolton News: Photograph of the Author by , chief football writer

ANDY Lonergan cannot wait to see the back of the new FA Cup ball after getting rather too well acquainted with it during the second half against Sunderland.

Despite making a string of superb saves in the latter stages, the former Leeds stopper could not prevent the Wearsiders from battling back from two goals down to book a replay a week on Tuesday.

And on this form, that could well mean he gets another date with the unpredictable Neo high visibility ball by Umbro, which was used for the first time in competition at the weekend.

After being beaten by a thunderbolt from Craig Gardner, Lonergan admits he feared the worst after working with the new ball during the week.

“When I saw the team, I saw Gardner, Larsson and David Vaughan and I knew they could all hit a ball,” he said. “Even Adam Johnson and McClean have exceptional shooting quality from distance and these balls are an absolute nightmare.

“We trained with them on Thursday and Friday and they were horrible. They are so different to the Mitres we use on a matchday.

“So when he hit it I thought, ‘wow, that’s a good finish’, The balls are awful You can’t explain how bad they are. They move all over the place. You just have to deal with it though.”

Lonergan was reasonably pleased with the performance but shrugged off praise for his own second-half heroics.

“Well its my job isn’t it? I hoped I could keep them out until the last 10 minutes or so and then think about holding on,” he said.

“But you look at the quality in their team and you know they’re going to throw everything at us.

“It was frustrating we couldn’t hold out but we have played a top team with a side that had a few players being given a chance in it. I got a game and Marvin came in and scored. It was a good work out for us.”

Just playing at all came as some relief to the 29-year-old, who had featured just once for the club since arriving in the summer from Elland Road.

“Throughout my career I have played when I’ve been fit,” he said. “I had a knee injury that kept me out for eight weeks but all season I haven’t played. It is frustrating, You do start wondering where the next game is going to come from but, thankfully, the gaffer has put me in at last.”

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