Yesterday’s 0-0 draw in the Championship away at the Valley against Charlton Athletic marked a big moment in 21-year-old goalkeeper Lee Nicholls’ career as he was brought in before kick-off for his Latics league debut.
Unfortunately Scott Carson received an injury in the warm up ruling the experienced goalkeeper out of the contest, but Nicholls stepped in confidently, keeping a clean sheet and impressing his defence as left back James Perch explains:
“It’s always good to keep clean sheets so we’re happy with that aspect of our performance.
“Our job is to defend and prevent teams, but the whole team did well in that respect.
“One thing I have to say is that Lee (Nicholls) did brilliantly to come in so late on in the afternoon under difficult circumstances.
“He obviously thought he was going to be on the bench, but he showed just how prepared he can be by being ready, I thought he was exceptional.”
With it being Nicholls’ first league appearance for the club, Perch said that the team carried responsibility to make him feel comfortable, but also added that he knew his ‘keeper would be capable enough after last season’s loan spell with Northampton Town.
“As soon as we knew Lee was going to be in the team we saw it as a responsibility not to put him under any unnecessary pressure and to look after him.
“He took care of his side of the game extremely well, he came out to claim the ball and he distributed it well in tough conditions with the swirling wind.
“Lee had a full season out on loan with Northampton, so he knows what it’s like to play league football and he showed maturity in his performance that we all know he’s got.
“He’s got real game confidence from going out on loan and it was great to have someone like Lee to step in with Scott’s being absent.”
Despite keeping it tight at the back, Latics couldn’t break through at the other end, something which Perch said he and the rest of the team are frustrated with.
“It was difficult to grind Charlton down and we didn’t do ourselves any favours in the first half.
“We didn’t play very well in the first half, but I think in the second half we created enough chances to win the game.
“The chances were definitely there, Chris (McCann) hit the bar, Nick (Powell) did well and Marco (Fortune) had a couple of chances after coming on.
“We had more and probably better chances than Charlton, so it’s very frustrating that we couldn’t take all three points and maybe we deserved them.”
Moving on to Latics’ next game on Wednesday at the DW Stadium against Queens Park Rangers Perch said:
“QPR on Wednesday is going to be a tough one everybody knows that.
“Personally I think on paper they’ve got a squad capable of playing in the Premier League, but you don’t get promoted on paper and I think we’ve got a very good chance of beating them.”
The Rs suffered their first defeat of the season on Saturday at the hands of table toppers Burnley, but it’s something Perch says will only complicate the situation.
“With them losing at the weekend for the first time this season it’s difficult to judge whether they’ll be raring to go or reeling from defeat.
“They’ll want to bounce back and we want to progress from our draw against Charlton, some it makes for a very competitive game.
“Both ourselves and QPR are looking to be up at the top come the end of the season and we’ve got to prove that on Wednesday by picking up a result.”