SUMMARY OF A SEASON: BACKUP GOALKEEPERS

Posted on: Wed 28 Jul 2010

Hilario has become a part of the furniture at the Bridge since his arrival in 2006, and he was duly promoted to second choice goalkeeper with the exit of Carlo Cudicini in January 2009. Replacing him at number three was Ross Turnbull, who arrived in west London on a free from Middlesbrough.

With no shortage of ambition, the Englishman described the 'fantastic opportunity' he had ahead of him and expressed a desire to push Petr Cech for a starting place.

A solid debut was made in Los Angeles as Inter were beaten 2-0 in pre-season, but it was not until October that Turnbull tasted competitive football in a Chelsea jersey when he replaced Hilario 23 minutes in against Bolton in the Carling Cup, the senior citizen of the goalkeeping department struck down with a bout of concussion.

By that point, the Portuguese had already been at the centre of attention, keeping a clean sheet against QPR in the Carling Cup before replacing the red-carded Cech at Wigan as we went down 3-1.

He excelled against Liverpool when the number one was suspended, taking every cross that came his way and pushing a vicious Steven Gerrard volley around the post with time ticking down.

Still though, with Cech fit, it was always going to be back to the bench, a role this pair shared through the season, Hilario named among the subs 33 times, Turnbull 20.

It was the experienced 34-year-old given the nod in the Carling Cup as we bowed out on penalties to Blackburn, although the goalkeeper did make one stop from Nikola Kalinic.

A first start for Turnbull followed a week later against APOEL in a Champions League dead rubber. He made a sharp save from a close-range effort inside the opening five minutes, but was eventually beaten twice, at fault for neither, as we drew 2-2.

Hilario was given the nod in the early rounds of the FA Cup, keeping clean sheets against Watford and Preston, and despite being beaten by Cardiff we strolled into the last eight before injury to Cech in the San Siro.

Already 2-1 down, Hilario came on and was untested against Inter. Manchester City would work him harder three days later though, and he was criticised for failing to deal with a tame Carlos Tevez effort, before Craig Bellamy squeezed one in across him from a tight angle.

Injury then struck Hilario before the second leg against Inter. So Ross stepped in, and despite being beaten by a Scott Parker thunderbolt, we were 4-1 winners against West Ham, before the biggest night of his career.

We conceded a late goal to condemn us to defeat, meaning a late, instinctive save from Samuel Eto'o was forgotten and not the tie-deciding stop it could have been.

Five days later Turnbull was beaten by an El-Hadji Diouf header from six yards as Blackburn held us 1-1 in Lancashire, and that was his last involvement of the campaign as Cech returned for the run in.

Despite a lack of match action, the view from coach Christophe Lollichon is that serious improvements have been made, and with Hilario also there, Chelsea fans will rarely panic when Cech is absent.

Appearances: Hillario 11,Turnbull 5

Clean sheets: Hilario 6, Turnbull 1

Minutes on pitch: Hilario 901, Turnbull 455

Ray Wilkins: 'H came into the team for some very big matches indeed and again did everything expected of him in Petr's absence. His professionalism is a credit to the club and himself.

'Not many people would have known much about Ross when he arrived here, but he has worked extremely hard with the other goalkeepers and impressed everybody with his mature performances when called upon.'