Swindon Town stopper Tyrell Belford is hoping to get further opportunities to impress between the sticks for the first-team following his heroics against former club Coventry City on Saturday.
The 21-year-old was handed only his fourth start of the season – and his 17th outing for the club in total – after a collision with Nathan Thompson during last weekend’s 2-2 draw with Millwall sidelined first choice keeper Lawrence Vigouroux.
And Belford didn’t let anyone down as he provided the moment of the game, producing a stunning stop to prevent Sky Blues striker Darius Henderson from scoring what would have been a dramatic winner in stoppage time.
That moment of brilliance capped off what was a hugely encouraging display by the youngster, who commanded his area well throughout the afternoon on his way to claiming Town’s sixth clean sheet this term.
It was a memorable day all round for Belford who returned to the place where it started for him, the goalkeeper having climbed through the ranks at Coventry before sealing a dream move to Premier League giants Liverpool in 2009.
Saturday was also a family affair with many of Belford’s close relatives in attendance, including his baby son TJ, who took in his first ever game of football – making it an afternoon to savour for the goalkeeper.
“It came really late, it came into the box and it just fell to him (Darius Henderson) – it was always going to at the end of the game,” he told BBC Wiltshire when asked to describe his outstanding save right at the death.
“I didn’t really have a lot to do and I just needed to keep my concentration levels and make a reaction save – it was actually behind me so I caught it really late, but it was a good reaction save.
“I knew Lawrence (Vigouroux) was struggling earlier in the week and Luke (Williams, Town’s Head Coach) had no hesitations to put me in.
“He’s stuck by me and always said ‘you’ll get your chance and you’ve just got to take it.’
“I know I’ve not had massive amounts to do in the game but hopefully I’ve proved there that I can take my chance.
“When I was (at Coventry) I was probably 13 or 14 and Liverpool bought me from here, but at the time Kasper Schmeichel was there and I was very fortunate to train with him.
“I was here every week watching as a player and it was nice to come here and play.
“Baby Belf was here today – that was his first game in football so that was brilliant – and the missus, my mum, my brother and my grandad were all here, so it was nice for me to come and play.”
The 0-0 draw at the Ricoh Arena on Saturday stretched Town’s unbeaten run to seven straight games, but Belford admitted that the visitors were disappointed not to have returned to Wiltshire with all three points after dominating second-half proceedings.
“We were happy with the draw in the end but it is difficult for us because I thought we were unlucky not to take all three points, especially with the chances we had,” he added.
“Nicky (Ajose) took on about three or four players in the box and could have probably had a cleaner shot, and Jon Obika had another shot at the end.
“If we’re going to be honest, we were gutted in the changing room that we didn’t take all three.”