Simons: debut was a dream come true
Rai Simons said he achieved a “lifelong dream” after making his professional debut for Chesterfield against Burton Albion at the Proact Stadium at the weekend.
The Bermuda striker came on as a second-half substitute but could not prevent Chesterfield from slipping to a 2-1 defeat against the Sky Bet League One table-toppers, who struck a last-gasp winner.
Although Simons was disappointed with the result, he believed he had shown glimpses of quality and said he was eager for another taste of first-team action as he looks to impress Dean Saunders, the Chesterfield manager.
“[My debut] was what I've been waiting for my whole life and it was a proud moment for me,” Simons said.
“I found out before the game that I was on the bench. The manager told me to get ready at half-time and said he might put me on. That's what he did and I just tried to do what I can do.
“I didn't really get any [scoring] opportunities and hopefully I can get a chance or two when I play again.”
The 19-year-old, who signed for Chesterfield from non-League Ilkeston in April, admits the nerves were jangling when he replaced Dan Gardner in the 66th minute and was delighted with the reception he received from the home supporters.
“At first I was a bit nervous but then once I got out there it became just another football game and I did my best to get something for the team,” Simons said.
“It was a real experience for me playing in front of thousands of people for the first time. I really enjoyed the fans cheering for me when I came on and whenever I was on the ball.
“I didn't make too many mistakes and it was just unfortunate that we couldn't get something. Although we lost it was still a special day for me.”
Chesterfield, who have fallen to fifteenth in the table, travel to rock-bottom Blackpool today with Simons confident of at least making the substitutes' bench.
“Hopefully I can start getting some more appearances and maybe even a staring spot,” said Simons, who played for Bermuda in this year's World Cup qualifiers.
“I don't know if I will be involved against Blackpool but if I get on I hope to make more of an impact than I did on Saturday.”
Saunders said he was “gutted” by Burton's last-minute winner and said his team's propensity to concede late goals had become a worrying habit.
“I'm just gutted, everyone's gutted for that to happen three times; if it happens now and again, as a manager you know you're going to concede goals late on that will cost points and you can nick late goals and nick points,” Saunders said.
“But to have it happen three times, especially when we had a chance at the other end, a header in the 92nd minute that could have won us the game; they shouldn't have scored from the position we were in, it's happening too often to us.”