Swindon Town Head Coach Luke Williams has paid tribute to Tyrell Belford’s character following the stopper’s heroics during the 1-1 draw with Fleetwood Town on Saturday.
The 21-year-old has been an ever-present between the sticks for the Robins since the stalemate away at Coventry City on 19th March after stepping in to cover for the injured Lawrence Vigouroux.
Belford earned plenty of plaudits for his display against the Sky Blues but quickly found himself on the other side of the fence in the wake of Town’s horror show over the Easter weekend.
Swindon were comfortably beat 4-1 by Wigan Athletic on Good Friday before suffering a humiliating and embarrassing 6-0 thumping away at Scunthorpe United on Easter Monday.
Belford endured a tough afternoon at Glanford Park and was at fault for the Iron’s second goal when he let a cross loop over his head and into the back of the net, although he was offered little protection by his defence throughout.
There were concerns as to whether or not the former Liverpool apprentice would be able to bounce back from that performance and recover mentally in time for the clash against Fleetwood on Saturday – doubts that were answered emphatically.
Despite conceding inside the opening six minutes, Belford was arguably Town’s best player as he kept the visitors at bay with a string of fine saves, including a stunning stop to prevent David Henen from notching the winner late on.
And Williams was quick to single out his goalkeeper for special praise in the wake of the game, adding that Belford should have been protected more against Scunthorpe.
“I was so pleased because I think it is very unfair that he has been judged very harshly when a team of players in-front of him, for the most part, didn’t protect him properly in the Scunthorpe game,” he told the local press.
“Some of the goals against Wigan were impossible for him to do anything about, but he had no protection in-front of him for a lot of the goals at Scunthorpe.
“Obviously he made a mistake as well with the second one, so to see him bounce back and make some important saves is brilliant.
“I’m very impressed with him.”
Williams has also admitted that his charges are still very fragile on the confidence front, despite stopping the rot with a point on Saturday.
“It is fragile and the lesson to learn for the players and myself is that we must never, ever surrender and we must never lose intensity,” he added.
“We must compete all the time and we must be focused and prepared well for every game, and that way you can protect yourself because it is okay to lose a game of football – every team in the world will lose a game of football.
“But to be humiliated and to be trampled on can leave a scar that can be very difficult to recover from, so it is still fragile at the moment.
“Hopefully this has gone some way to starting to build the confidence again and we may start to see some more performances that we showed where we have lots of control in the game and we look much more balanced.”