Price debut is a success
LEWIS Price handled the biggest test of his fledgling career the way he does most things – with confidence and success.The 19-year-old Wales international keeper did not know until after lunch on Saturday that he was to make his Football League debut at Gillingham when Kelvin Davis was sent home sick.
By Derek Davis
LEWIS Price handled the biggest test of his fledgling career the way he does most things – with confidence and success.
The 19-year-old Wales international keeper did not know until after lunch on Saturday that he was to make his Football League debut at Gillingham when Kelvin Davis was sent home sick.
Things happened so fast that there was no time for back-up keeper Shane Supple to be called into the squad and there was concern in some quarters about how the young stopper would cope.
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Although he didn't have anything too difficult to deal with, Price proved his doubters wrong by dealing with a series of high crosses in a difficult wind.
Anyone who has followed his career since the Bournemouth-born keeper arrived at Portman Road from Southampton's Academy will be aware of his ability, and the former Town scholar warmed up by keeping a clean sheet for the reserves against Fulham during the week.
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After 46 games sitting on the bench this season Price was going through his usual pre-match routine when the call came – and it took a little time for the realisation to hit him.
He said: "I was alright at first but as the game got nearer I got more and more nervous. I was alright once the game started and then really enjoyed it."
Although confident, Price admitted he was not totally sure how he would handle the big step once it actually came.
He felt he did well but admitted that Kelvin Davis was still the undoubted No. 1.
He said: "You never know how you are going to perform until you actually play. It was a big test but I felt I did okay.
"Kelvin's still the man."
Price was beaten by a John Hills penalty conceded by Matt Elliott and made a few hearts race faster when he coolly dealt with a back pass by dribbling past Patrick Agyemang.
He conceded: "It was a bit rash, probably down to nerves. I was trying to do too much as I was looking to impress in a big game instead of keeping things simple."
He also made a good save at the striker's feet and was down well to deal with danger late in the game to play his part in an important victory.
Price said: "It was a big win as we needed the points."
Once Blues boss Joe Royle got over the fright, he said: "Lewis did very well apart from giving me a heart-attack in the first half when he decided to dribble on his debut.
"He came and caught crosses, but we are not surprised. We think highly of him.
"He was probably our own bright spark in a first half where collectively we played as badly as I can remember.
"Lewis has got a great temperament. He has been a bit unfortunate in that he has not had games, and if we had had another keeper we wanted to let him out on loan to gain experience."
The debut-making performance was a fine way to celebrate Price's call-up to the Wales under-21 squad.
Price qualifies through a Welsh father and will link up with the Welsh squad for a training camp in Wrexham on April 25.