There’s no doubt that Jack was one of the standout heroes of our great escape at the end of last season. His contributions during that nine-game period were defining moments, without which we would surely have suffered relegation to League One.
Eyebrows were raised when he – along with several other inexperienced players – was in the starting line-up for our first game back against Queens Park Rangers, but he rose to the fore and showed his credentials with a crucial block to deny Jordan Hugill in the dying embers.
We have spoken about that moment, personally, since and he says he ‘got lucky’. You make your own luck in this game.
But there was no luck involved when Harry Cornick was racing through, one on one, with time ticking away at Kenilworth Road as Jack made arguably the most important save of the run-in. What’s going through his mind at that moment? Is he thinking about the permutations if the Luton Town forward slots it home?
“No,” asserted Jack, his confidence in his own ability radiating through.
“I’m thinking you’re not scoring. When someone runs through one on one, I think you’re not scoring. What do I need to do to stop this? At that time the game was quite stretched and open; it was the last minute of the game and his legs were probably tired, so I came out and made myself as big as possible to try and make him rush into a decision.
“I saw him put his head down and hoped he was just going to hit it as hard as he could, so I made myself as big as possible and luckily it hit me. I think, at the time, we were disappointed not to win the game but, looking back, you realise how big the save was and how big the point was.
“I think that’s what you train for. The main thing about goalkeeping is decision making – split second decisions: do you come, do you go? You’ve got to make that decision so quickly. It’s like when someone is dribbling – do you stay on your line or do you come out and spread to close the ball?
“It’s a very fine line decision, and that’s the difference between goalkeepers.”
If those saves against QPR and Luton were good, then we will probably run out of superlatives for his one against Brentford on that dramatic final day at Griffin Park.
Somehow. Somehow. Jack has managed to fling himself across his line to turn Bryan Mbuemo’s thunderous effort onto the post, despite it taking a deflection off Jordan Williams on the way through.
“I think it’s probably the best save I’ve made in my career so far,” reminisced Walts. “That’s the one where the ball gets crossed and you just go and you’re just hoping. You’re just hoping you make the save and it was at such a crucial time in the game because it was right before half-time. If we go in after they’ve scored, I think the mood in the changing room would have been so different, so it was an important save due to the time."
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