Lee Nicholls has been waiting all season for his chance to start a league match for MK Dons and just hours before kick-off on Saturday, the goalkeeper was finally handed the opportunity.
The 24-year-old impressed in his first league start for the men from MK1, helping them to an important 3-2 victory over Gillingham – a result which moves them eight points clear of the bottom four in Sky Bet League One.
“The team was named and Dave was in there but unfortunately for him he’s picked up a back injury so I’ve come in,” Nicholls recounted to MK Dons PlayerHD.
“I always put everything in every day. I’ve always got to make sure I’m prepared in case I get an opportunity to play, like today.”
He continued: “Every player wants to play in the league and become an established league player but unfortunately it hasn’t quite fallen for me this season because Dave has been tremendous all season.
“I was just made up to get out there today and help get three points.”
“I’m a little bit gutted I didn’t get the second one – I went for it hoping I’d get there so I’m disappointed I didn’t do better with it.”
“I was a bit unlucky. Maybe I should have waited a little bit to make a better save but if I didn’t go early I might not have said the initial penalty.
The Liverpudlian came close to marking the occasion with a late penalty save but despite stopping the initial effort from Josh Wright, Nicholls wasn’t able to deny the Gillingham midfielder on the rebound.
“MK Dons has got to be a club that goes into every game wanting to win. It hasn’t really fallen for us this season but today we went out there and did what needed to be done.
“When they scored I was gutted, so for the boys to go up the other end and get the goal to secure the three points is all we can ask for.
Nicholls’ frustration was short-lived, however, as just a minute later, captain Dean Lewington headed home a Ben Reeves free-kick to seal a dramatic victory – nobody was more pleased than the debutant between the sticks.