Falkirk youngster Robbie Mutch is the latest Under-20 player to be given his chance this season under new Bairns boss Paul Hartley.
The 19-year-old was a surprise inclusion in the starting eleven against Livingston last midweek for many supporters, but it was a Championship debut the shot-stopper had been waiting for.
“I am delighted that I have made my debut,” explains Mutch to Falkirk TV immediately after the 0-0 draw at the Tony Macaroni Arena. “It has been four weeks in the waiting, mind you, after all the postponements but I am delighted to have finally made it as well as keeping a clean sheet. I thought we were unlucky not to nick a goal in the first half but a draw was probably fair in the end.
I was meant to be playing in the previous match against Livingston [before it got postponed]; the manager told me back then that they are a physical side and they are a team who will put the ball into the box. He wanted me to come and collect their crosses and he felt my height would help me do that. He has seen me do that in the Under-20 matches as he comes to all of them but I would say it was probably a slight gamble putting me in as I am a young goalie but I am delighted he had that faith in me.”
Hartley gave the former Aberdeen youngster a perfect present heading into the festive fixtures.
“The goalkeeping coach, Derek Jackson, told me before the game to just keep doing the same things as I would normally do. [The postponements] have given us time to juggle about with the defence, I would say. It has gave us a chance to try new things and new formations and I felt our new system worked well tonight as I didn’t have a save to make. They had a shot which hit the bar in the second half and a header which glanced wide in the first half but apart from that, I didn’t have a save to make: we were pretty solid defensively tonight and now my aim is just to cement my place in the team and see where that takes me.”
The goalkeeper has had experience of first-team football already with a loan spell at Arbroath in previous seasons. The confidence in the teenager of Hartley was clear to see in his post-match comments, too.
“He got a clean-sheet and if you asked him before the game if he would take that he would have said yes. He helped our backline by coming and taking long balls and crosses under pressure. We knew about that [the direct play of Livingston] – we showed the guys videos of that before the game; It is something we had been working towards so I was pleased with how they all coped with that side of things, particularly as it wasn’t just the first ball but there were second balls coming down tpp.”