South Manchester 2nd boss Neil Collins paid tribute to Gary Stewart after the goalkeeper returned from an horrific eye injury in Sunday’s win over Broughton.
Stewart came within millimetres of losing his sight after being caught by Haroldeans’ Adam Boyars during last month’s 4-1 defeat against the Merseysiders.
The South stopper required 15 stitches above his left eye and had not featured since the beginning of October.
But his presence in the South goal was a huge boost for Collins’ side, who managed to sneak a dramatic 2-1 victory after coming from behind in the last 15 minutes.
“It was great to have Gary back because he’s a smashing lad,” said Collins.
“He was going to wear head protection but decided against it because it was going to impair his vision.
“He was very brave and came out to catch everything and was down at the feet of their striker as well.
“We’re just delighted to have him back in the side.”
Stewart was a spectator for much of the contest but he was beaten after the break when Jacob Richler-Kleinman fired bottom side Broughton ahead from the penalty spot.
South looked set to fall to a shock defeat, despite having created numerous chances with Oli Black wasting two glorious opportunities.
But with 15 minutes remaining, Black finally found a way past the outstanding Serge Fagelman in the Broughton goal to draw his side level.
Nathan Ezair wrapped up the win soon after, bursting through the Broughton defence to beat Fagelman and save South from embarrassment.
“We had so many chances but we just couldn’t score and their keeper played a blinder, “ added Collins.
“Once they went ahead it galvanised us because we didn’t want to be the first side to lose to Broughton this season.
“We had a lot of players missing and we fielded four 16-year-old kids who all played their part.
“But Broughton were very enthusiastic and never stopped, so credit to them.”