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Justin Donawa thrilled to score first goal in 16 months

Justin Donawa netted his first goal since his comeback from injury last November in Solihull Moors 1-1 draw with Maidenhead United last Friday (File photograph courtesy of Solihull Moors FC)

Justin Donawa expressed his delight after scoring his first goal since December 2021 for Solihull Moors on Friday.

Donawa found the net in a 1-1 draw against Maidenhead United in the Vanarama National League, with those opponents also on the receiving end when the Bermudian scored his last goal before serious injury kept him out of the game for nearly a year.

While disappointed that his team failed to pick up three points, the forward was understandably delighted to be back on the scoresheet.

“I would rather the three points, but I am happy to be off the mark,” he said. It’s been a long time and it’s my first since the comeback in November.”

“I think as a team we were dominating the first half more. I made a good run and luckily I was found in behind and decent little finish,” he said on his team’s Twitter account.

The 26-year-old suffered a fractured distal fibula in his ankle in December 2021 and made his long-awaited return to competitive action 11 months later when coming on as a 75th minute substitute in Moors’ 3-0 away league defeat to Dagenham and Redbridge.

The player admits the road to recovery hasn’t been the “smoothest of journeys” but believes the ordeal has made him stronger.

“It’s just been trying to get back into the swing of things and try to make an impact wherever I can, and I was able to do that with a goal,” Donawa said.

“Unluckily, it was a little bit in vain as we weren’t able to get over the line in those last few minutes, but it was good to get off the mark nonetheless.

“The gaffer [manager Neal Ardley] just encourages me to get forward and be a problem, to take my man and just express myself in any way, shape or form. I think the goal showed my ability to run behind and it came into fruition with the finish.”

Donawa admits he and his team-mates did not to enough after the break to secure all three points and capitalise on an opportunity to close the gap on the play-off positions.

“It was just poor game management. Throughout that whole second half, I don’t think we were anywhere near it like we were in the first half,” he said.

“It’s just a shame because we had a few minutes left and we couldn’t really get it over the line. That, I think, is the disappointing part because as a group we weren’t together defensively and made a little error.

“It’s just very disappointing to not get that over the line and be sitting here smiling that we got three points.”

Donawa admitted Maidenhead’s controversial equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time, when the referee seemingly over-ruled his assistant’s offside decision, frustrated his fellow team-mates.

“It’s frustrating because he calls offside and we got off the hook there,” he added. “I don’t know what was exactly being said out there, but what made the decision get overturned?

“Besides that I think we weren’t at it in the second half, and it showed. They were just knocking on the door, and it was bound to happen at some point if we were going to continue down that road.

“It’s beyond the actual referee. We were just putting pressure on ourselves and you can see as the minutes were going on that we had to do more defending.

“We had a few times we could have capitalised in the first half and second half. We just didn’t get on the end of crosses and weren’t securing the ball properly.

“It’s disappointing the decision didn’t go our way, but at the end of the day we have to look in the mirror and figure it out ourselves, and why we couldn’t hang on in those last few minutes.”

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Published April 10, 2023 at 7:48 am (Updated April 10, 2023 at 7:48 am)

Justin Donawa thrilled to score first goal in 16 months

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