Stevenage defender Bira Dembélé immediately returned to today’s League Two semifinal against Southend United despite the player having suffered a head injury that led to an eight-minute delay.

Dembélé clashed heads in the first half with Southend United’s Michael Timlin, whose head immediately started gushing blood; despite this, Timlin appeared to have gotten the better of it during the delay as Dembélé lay on the pitch and did not move for much of the period. But Timlin came off for substitution (and to receive 20 stitches), while Dembélé remained in the match.

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The FA introduced a new concussion protocol this season, requiring all players suspected of having suffered a concussion to be approved for return by the team doctor. If the Stevenage physician thought Dembélé checked out, then so be it; the match announcer mentioned several times later that the player “didn’t seem quite right.”

Dembélé was eventually substituted off at halftime.

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