Brad Jones dedicated his role in Liverpool's win at Blackburn Rovers to his late son, Luca, having been propelled into Kenny Dalglish's team for the FA Cup semi-final against Everton at Wembley on a remarkable night at Ewood Park that saw Andy Carroll score a dramatic winner in stoppage time.
The Australian goalkeeper, who took time out of the game last November following the death of his five-year-old son from leukaemia, was handed his league debut for Liverpool in the 3-2 win courtesy of a red card for the club's second choice keeper, Doni. The Brazilian was only playing as a result of José Reina's three-match suspension for throwing his head at James Perch at Newcastle United and, along with the Spaniard, is now banned for the Merseyside derby on Saturday.
Jones' first touch for Liverpool in a league game was to save Yakubu Ayegbeni's penalty and, though he was at fault for the penalty that brought Blackburn level after being two goals down inside 16 minutes, he finished on the winning side courtesy of Carroll's stoppage-time header.
"What was going through my mind?" said Jones, below. "Many a Friday on the training pitch with Yakubu at Middlesbrough. I have been with him a few years and on Fridays we used to practise penalties a lot so I knew his style and what he does. I had a guess and luckily I made the save. It has been a difficult 18 months with my son passing away. That was for him and obviously for the supporters as well for giving me the support they have. My girlfriend gave birth to a little boy so it has been a big week."
Dalglish admitted he had "no idea" who would provide back-up to Jones in the FA Cup semi-final. Peter Gulacsi was injured while on a season-long loan at Hull City and the youth team players Danny Ward and Tyrell Belford could come into consideration. Liverpool, however, will review their options on Wednesday and, although emergency loans can be requested from the Premier League, the regulations also state that "players' registrations for special matches are not permitted."
Jones added: "The semi-final is not something I have been thinking about to be honest. But it's a big game and it is about preparing for that and making sure I am focused."
The Liverpool manager refused to discuss Doni's red card or the referee Anthony Taylor's refusal to dismiss Jones when he fouled Yakubu for the penalty that led to Blackburn's equaliser. The Blackburn manager, Steve Kean claimed the match official had called both incidents correctly but was incensed that Carroll's winner – his first league goal in over two months – was allowed to stand.
Kean said: "I can understand why he hasn't sent the sub goalie off because when the ball spins up Yak's touch takes it towards a Liverpool player. I can see why he's given a yellow there but with the last goal, Grant Hanley is trying to get to his feet and is pulled to the floor by Martin Skrtel. It was a blatant foul from where the linesman was stood and it meant Grant couldn't get out in time. It was a big decision that has cost us but we need to pick ourselves up."
As for his team selection at Wembley, Dalglish admitted: "I don't have a problem [with Jones playing]. I don't have a problem whatsoever. I've got two other boys, Glen Johnson and Daniel Agger, who have come through the game, and that will have done them the world of good. I don't know what the rules are regarding bringing keepers back or in. I honestly don't know. At least we've got one anyway."
Victory was Liverpool's first in five league games and their manager admitted it was perfectly timed ahead of the meeting with Everton. He added: "I think the victory will do everybody the world of good. We've not had the best of results recently but that will give everyone a lift. It's always more enjoyable when you win a game with 10 men near the end of it. I think Andy is really confident and he got what he deserved tonight. He worked really hard, and scored a fantastic header. I don't think confidence is a problem."
Liverpool were two goals ahead inside 16 minutes thanks to the Argentina midfielder Maxi Rodríguez before the game turned on Doni's dismissal. Dalglish added: "I can't speak highly enough of the effort and commitment the players showed. We had a fantastic start, then went down to 10 men, but with the help of the supporters, who drove them forward, they did really well in the second-half. We just about deserved to win. We're delighted for the players, because it's not been the best of times for them recently."