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Wrexham star keeper Lainton hospitalised with head injury in Bromley clash

calendario 30.11.2020
by: Zach
  • England
  • Vanarama National
Wrexham star keeper Lainton hospitalised with head injury in Bromley clash

Emergency in London as Wrexham star keeper Lainton stretchered off with head injury

A collision in the 23rd minute saw Rob Lainton crumple in the box in Wrexham’s clash with South East London side Bromley. Lainton proved a linchpin in Wrexham’s defence this season, starting every game and earning five clean sheets. The two teams were goalless before the incident, and Lainton looked to consolidate his record by challenging Bromley’s forward James Alabi.

A problem became apparent as soon as the players parted. Wrexham’s official Twitter account live-tweeted that it “doesn’t look good at all” as physios rushed across the Hayes Lane pitch to Lainton’s aid. Twelve minutes after the challenge, both teams returned to their dressing rooms, as the emergency medical attention continued. Eleven minutes later, an ambulance arrived and rushed Lainton across the short 10 minute trip to the Princess Royal University Hospital in Orpington.

Play stopped for almost half an hour, as officials announced 26 minutes of extra time in the first half of the match.

Bizarrely, this wasn’t the first injury of the game. Earlier in the match, a linesman suffered a hamstring injury. After five minutes, a new official was substituted on by the ninth minute and play resumed. Miraculously, the game eventually continued after both injury crises and both teams managed a full ninety minutes.

This latest injury raises questions about the recent change to the offside rules. As of this year, match officials only flag for offside when the goalkeeper gets the ball, or it goes out of play. According to many fans, this places undue risk on players, who may overexert themselves unnecessarily in goal opportunities which are already offside. James Alabi was offside in his collision with Lainton, as was Liverpool’s Virgil Van Dijk during his injury in the Merseyside derby.

While the immediate issue here is Rob Lainton’s wellbeing, some, like @WrxRob on Twitter, argue the injury would be preventable without the change in the offside rule. The fan replied to Wrexham’s tweet concerning Lainton in the 23rd minute, writing “this is why they shouldn’t have changed the offside flag rule”. Lainton’s injury could add fuel to the furore around controversial FA rule changes such as VAR and handball.

Play resumed in first-half extra time, with Wrexham boss Dean Keates giving substitute keeper Christian Dibble his first minutes of the season. Dibble made some impressive stops throughout the match, but a deflection from his save in the 45+10th minute allowed Bromley’s Michael Cheek to score his sixth of the season. Cheek’s goal ended Wrexham’s four games clean sheet run and heralded a period of Bromley dominance in the game.

Dibble made several more key saves to keep the reds in the game, including stopping a 20-yard free-kick from Bromley’s Luke Coulson. Finally, Wrexham’s Adi Yussef headed one home in the 76th minute to equalise. The game ended in a 1-1 draw, catapulting Wrexham to fourth in the league. The draw extends Wrexham’s unbeaten streak to five games on the trott. They equal third place Woking on points and goal difference, so Berkshire side’s away goal advantage keeps things balanced on a knife-edge near the top of the league.

As soon as the game ended, Bromley tweeted in support of Wrexham’s injured keeper, writing that “everyone at Bromley football club would like to offer our best wishes to Rob Lainton in his recovery.” In a match report on Wrexham’s website, the reds echo Bromley’s statement, stating that “the health of Rob Lainton is our only concern coming out of the match.”

It appears that their wishes were answered, as Rob Lainton was discharged from hospital that evening to make the trip back to Wales. Lainton even returned to Bromley's stadium in time to celebrate with the team after the game. Following the scare, Lainton publicly thanked the staff of both clubs for their support, stating that he is “all okay now thankfully.”

It remains unclear whether Lainton will start in Wrexham's next game against Altrincham. The care surrounding his injury and recovery stands as a testament to the increasing attention to head injuries in contact sport. As sport scientists investigate the links between head impacts and degenerative cognitive diseases in retired players, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Ultimately, 2020 is a turbulent time for everyone, including sportspeople, who face compressed seasons and pre-seasons, and erratic schedules.

Lainton’s recovery comes as a blessing to him and his family first and foremost. It also removes a tragic note from the impending Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney sports documentary about the newly worldwide reds.

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