When James Ball was sat on the bench at 3pm on Saturday, he could have been forgiven for thinking he was in for another low-key afternoon...
An injury to Alex Revell after just 10 minutes meant for an earlier-than-expected introduction into the game for the former Stockport man.
35 minutes later it was half-time and Ball had scored twice, Stevenage's only goals of the game.
“I enjoyed it," Ball said. "I was not expecting to come on at such an early stage. I had only just come out of the changing room two minutes before, and Jason (Goodliffe) told me to go and warm up because Alex Revell was injured. But I really enjoyed it, it was a good game.
“We have had a few strikers missing, obviously Kurtis and Reidy are suspended, so then when Revs gets injured we are down to the bare bones.
“I have played up front before, earlier in my career at Liverpool I was a striker so I have done it before. I just had to do a job for the team. I have not been in the frame for a little while, so when I came on I was puffing. The ball came in and I thought this is the time to make it mine.
“I got two goals, and I just wanted to remind the gaffer that I have not gone away. That is all I can do and hopefully he will notice that.”
A difficult second half followed where Stevenage had to scrap and claw their way to see out the win as Crawley piled on the pressure.
“They were probably on top for the last 25 minutes. That is always going to happen in this league. They were 2-1 down, they were always going to throw bodies forward.
“You end up getting penned in and it is hard to get out of that phase of play. Defensively we were magnificent today and we managed to hold on.”
After making such an impact, Ball now hopes that he can keep the pressure on the players ahead of him in the pecking order.
“It has been difficult. I have been in the team, out the team, but I always keep working hard in training, because you never know when the chance is going to come. I did not expect to come on today after 10 minutes, but you have got to make the most of them opportunities.
“There are a lot of people here watching, and you have to do your best to make the crowd happy. That is why we are here. I knew that if I go on, work hard, the chances will come and fortunately they did.
“Hopefully if I get another chance then I can keep adding to that. Scoring goals has been part of my game for the last few years. I think that is why the gaffer brought me here, so if I can repay his faith and score a few more, then that will be good for me and for the team.”
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