AFC Sudbury goalkeeper Luke Avenell reflects on double penalty save on debut at Witham Town

Luke Avenell

Luke Avenell - Credit: Archant

Anything Tim Krul can do....

It may not have been the World Cup in Brazil, but it felt like it for AFC Sudbury debutant, Luke Avenell, at Witham Town on Tuesday night.

The 19-year-old goalkeeper was sent on in place of Louis Johnson, with 30 seconds left of the Robert Dyas League Cup game at Spa Road which finished 1-1, the game going to penalties.

Avenell, failed to get a touch of the ball in normal time, but made two very big contributions during the lottery of spot-kicks, saving the Essex team’s first and fifth efforts to send Jamie Godbold’s side through 4-3 on penalties.

It was reminiscent of Krul’s heroics for the Dutch, during their World Cup quarter-final game with Costa Rica at last summer’s World Cup.

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The Newcastle goalkeeper was brought on in the last minute of extra time by Louis van Gaal and went on to save two penalties in the shoot-out as his side prevailed 4-3.

The pressure was on Krul, despite him being new to the action, and it was a similar scenario for Avenell.

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“Normally goalkeepers have got nothing to lose, but after he (Godbold) brought me on – in front of everyone – I did not want to go on and let in five penalties,” said Avenell, whose side go to Brentwood in Ryman North today.

“It must have been a couple of minutes before the end when the manager told me to go and warm up and I thought he might be joking.

“He had not seen me play but I said I fancied it and a couple of lads on the bench backed me up.

“It felt like the World Cup, the Netherlands did it with Tim Krul and it was one of those special moments that I won’t forget.

“We missed our first penalty so they had the advantage straight away, but as soon as their first penalty-taker began walking up, I knew exactly where he was going to put the penalty, to his left, my right and it was a good height for me.

“We went on to score our next penalties and I saved their fifth, it was a great experience.”

The teenage goalkeeper spent time at AFC last season, playing for the club’s under-21s and reserves but his college commitments meant he could not play every week.

He played for Ryman Premier side Brightlinsgea Regent at the start of this campaign before joining AFC.

“I spoke to the former management team and I knew Sudbury had links with my old college at Colne and like to do everything the right way,” added Avenell, who has seen Marcus Garnham earn rave reviews as first choice Sudbury stopper since arriving from Bury Town.

“It is always a dream to push on and play for the first team, but it is a bit different for goalkeepers as there is only one spot.

“If my chance comes I will hopefully take it and I feel I am good enough, having played for Brightlinsgea already.”

Godbold admitted: “It was a decision between me and Andy, I suppose it’s a big story because it’s a brave decision.

“Our thought process was that it’s not too different from switching an outfield player to take a penalty, but that probably wouldn’t be the headline story that this is.

“We’re now through to the quarter’s and we did make it clear to Louis that if fit, he would definitely be playing in that game.”

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