Preparation pays off for Stech with second penalty save

Marek Stech takes the plaudits after his crucial penalty save
Marek Stech takes the plaudits after his crucial penalty save

Keeper Marek Stech revealed that it wasn’t just pure guesswork behind his second successive penalty save for Luton at Mansfield on Saturday.

After repelling Otis Khan’s effort for Yeovil from 12 yards on the opening day of the season, Stech again produced heroics with a far, far more important stop at the weekend, denying Jimmy Spencer in stoppage time, to ensure the scores remained 2-2.

The summer signing from Sparta Prague was quick to praise the work done behind the scenes prior to being in that position though, as he said: “We’ve got a regime we’ve been working on, we study some of the players who’ve been taking the pens, not just this season, but the previous season.

“We’ve been working on it with Kev (Dearden) and with Pete (Booker), he’s been putting all the clips together and we’ve got it on a phone, so when we’re on the way up, or before the game, we watch the pens and it’s totally paid off because two penalties and two saves.

“Obviously I’m happy for myself, but have to say half the work is Kev and Pete, so they’ve done a good job.”

On what was going through his mind when Spencer stepped up to try and win it for Mansfield, Stech continued: “I was just thinking, I normally look how he stands, so thought he was standing too much on the right so he’s going to go left.

“Then the last minute, I’m just bouncing around, shake the bar and then I went right to maybe confuse him if he had the last look and then I went left.

“So I can’t really say, I just did it, was just my instinct. It paid off and I’m really happy with that.”

Although Stech parried the initial effort, the rebound flew out to onrushing striker Danny Rose, who volleyed wastefully, as the keeper said: “It was similar like the one I saved at home, I kind of got both hands to it, it bounced off in front of me and then we cleared it in the end.

“If I do save the pen, it’s very important as well, not just saving the pen, but the second ball as all the players were spot on and they follow in, so it was good.”

Once the ball was out of play, a pumped up Stech tore out of his goal in celebration and made a beeline for referee Ross Joyce, earning a booking from the official.

The keeper admitted he hadn’t been impressed with the award of the penalty in the first place for a supposed handball from skipper Scott Cuthbert, adding: "I was a little bit angry at the referee as just thought when I saw it, there was no way it was a handball.

“All through the game, I’m not sure if the referee, some of the decisions he made. My first instinct when the ref blowed for the pen, I thought there was never handball because Scotty was heading it on the back foot.

"If he left the arm there, I’m not sure, I didn’t see it. I don’t know what the referee saw but in the end, he gave the pen and I saved it.

"It was all good, we came out well and got a point, which is very important and we can crack on next week which is going to be a tough game as well."