“What a goal from Toner!” we put to the Northern Ireland under-21 captain.
“I know! What can I say like? It will probably be my only one this season,” joked Ciaran, who claims he did not have his eyes shut as he left former England goalkeeper Tim Flowers grasping at thin air.
“No I didn’t. I do that every day in training,” he laughed.
Ciaran missed the opening two reserve games due to international duty and was thrust back into action playing in a right full-back role that he is none too accustomed to. Not that it showed, although Ciaran admits it did have its hairy moments.
“Coming towards the end of the game I got a bit apprehensive playing right back. I haven’t played for the reserves for a long while, that was my first league game.
“It’s brilliant to come back and get a goal and, most importantly, the win."
Ciaran explains that, although he advanced up the pitch in the style of a wing-back, he was actually playing at right back.
“Not really wing-back, it was right back, but pushed on because Leo helped me out a bit. He was running into the middle and sort of taking their left wing-back out of the game. It gave me the opportunity to push on quite a few times.”
But, at the end of the day, it is another position to add to the Toner portfolio. Right back, centre half, right, left and centre midfield — the list goes onÃƒÆ’Ã†â€™Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¢ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¢ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…Â¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¬ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¦
“It’s going to say in the handbook ‘Position: Unknown’. I’ll play wherever to get a game — I’d rather be on the pitch than on the bench.
“If you put a good performance in, the manager is always watching and always asking how all the players have done. If I keep doing that it can only go from strength to strength really.”
Ciaran’s progress was recognised and he was added to the squad that travelled to Sunderland, part of a learning curve he is prepared to steepen with a possible loan move at some stage.
“I was in the squad last week for Sunderland and it was brilliant. Although I didn’t get on the bench it was still a great experience, still nice to be thought of by the manager and all the staff to give me the opportunity to travel with the team. I was delighted by it.
“My ambition is I want to do well and I want to get games. If that means going out on loan then so be it. It’s a stage that all of us have to go through and, to be honest, I’m looking forward to it. Hopefully I’ll go out, do well, come back and then hopefully the manager will give me a chance.”
By Richard Hubbard
Ciaran Toner marked his first reserve outing of the season with a spectacular goal from an unfamiliar position in the team — no wonder his grin stretched from ear to ear after the game!