GOAL WAS DESERVED REWARD FOR SCOTT
STAFFORD Rangers. Altrincham. Weymouth. Farsley Celtic. Scott Laird reels off the wayposts along the path that eventually led to Manchester United.
The Preston left-back’s goal against Louis van Gaal’s men may not have been enough to prevent a 3-1 defeat at Deepdale on Monday night.
But having slogged his way up from the Conference and overcome serious injury to take his place against the former Premier League champions, Laird had no time for the old maxim about playing the game and not the occasion.
“We’re all professionals,” said the 26-year-old, who started out as a trainee at Plymouth before making his name at Stevenage. “But there’s no getting away from it – games like that don’t come along very often.
“It’s Manchester United. It’s the FA Cup fifth round. You’d be silly to just ignore it. You’ve almost got to take 30 seconds to look around and drink it in and let yourself think ‘Yeah, I wouldn’t mind this every week’.
“I was brought up in Non-League and they were great times. I wouldn’t change it for anything. But when you’ve had that side of the game you appreciate nights like Monday so much more. You want to show everyone what you’re made of.
“I think that’s why big teams sometimes struggle in the Cup. They aren’t used to players with that kind of hunger, doing everything they can to prove they’re good enough. It’s just a shame United weren’t one of them.”
Laird’s opener arrived just two minutes into the second half and, until the hour mark, another FA Cup shock was on the cards. But goals from Ander Herrera, Marouane Fellaini and a late Wayne Rooney penalty ended his hero hopes.
“When you’re playing against players of that quality, you automatically drop deeper,” says Laird, who joined Preston in the summer of 2012-13 but missed the majority of his first season with a broken leg. “You don’t mean to. I think something in your subconscious is just telling you to protect what you’ve got. It’s human nature.”
In the wake of the match, Laird revealed that his gran still sends him £1 every time he scores a goal. That pound has now arrived – along with the weekly local paper – and has been added to what Laird calls his “holiday jar”.
“She was watching at home with my mum and my brother,” says Laird. “When I scored, the first thing she said was ‘I owe him a pound’.
“It was nice for her to see it. My dad was at the game with some of my friends but with it being midweek not everybody could make the journey. But they all watched it somewhere and it was great to be able to share that experience with people who’ve been there all the way.”
OH YES! Scott Laird scores against Man United