Port Vale: Keeper Sam Johnson won't be fazed by hero status, says assistant boss Mark Grew
MARK Grew says Sam Johnson won't be fazed by his heroic goalkeeping debut for the Valiants.
The 19-year-old was handed his bow in Tuesday's Johnstone's Paint Trophy tie at Walsall – and quickly made a name for himself.
The game ended 2-2, before Johnson saved three penalties, and scored the winner himself, to send Vale through 6-5 on spot-kicks.
But assistant manager Grew says the former Wolstanton High School pupil will remain level headed.
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"You couldn't have made it up," said Grew. "If you had said that was going to happen, people would have thought you were mad.
"I'm so pleased he did so well. I thought he was fantastic during the 90 minutes, when he pulled off a couple of great saves, and then to do that in the shoot-out was just sensational.
"He's such an unflappable character.
"I looked at him on the coach on the way home and it was as if nothing had happened. He'll take it all in his stride."
Grew has been nurturing 6ft 7in Johnson since he left Stoke City to join Vale at the age of 14.
The young keeper, from Newcastle under Lyme, has grown not only in physical stature since then.
But he remained modest about his achievements during a fairytale debut.
"I found out I would be playing the day before and I was a bit nervous," he said.
"I thought I did all right during the game and I made some good saves in the second half, although I could have done better with their second goal.
"The penalties were just a lottery really.
"I was happy with the two saves from the first two penalties, but the last one from their keeper was the best. I guessed which way he'd put it and got to it."
But Johnson admits he still has plenty to learn, despite his impressive showing.
"The gaffer and Grewy have been mentoring me and Chris Neal has been keeping me on my toes," he added.
"I'll just keep going out and doing what I normally do."