Aston Villa goalkeeper Sam Johnstone made his debut in the 2-0 loss to Tottenham Hotspur but was the shining light as his new club exited the FA Cup.
The highly rated 23-year-old signed this month on loan from Manchester United for the rest of the season but hadn’t made a professional appearance in almost a year, with his last coming in January of last year for Preston North End.
Nevertheless, Johnstone looked composed as he commanded his defensive area and earned praise from those watching. Perhaps the highlight of his debut was his magnificent save around 60 minutes to prevent a Son Heung-Min goal as he tipped the shot over the bar.
After a troublesome season for the West Midlands in regards to goalkeepers, Steve Bruce looks like he has solved the problem. Johnstone’s calm and collected performance earn the title of man-of-the-match by numerous Villa supporters and many showed admiration on Twitter:
— HomeOfTheVilla (@TheVillaHome) January 8, 2017
— Pete Faulkner (@PMFaulkner) January 8, 2017
— Villa Till I Die (@VillaTill) January 8, 2017
Sam Johnstone looked the real deal today. Big presence, calm, steady, strong & solid. Opposite qualities of Gollini, sadly. Summer sign Sam!
— AVillaFan (@AVillaFan11) January 8, 2017
— Ian Taylor (@IanTaylor7) January 8, 2017
The Villa boss also showed his delight at the England U20 international’s performance, “You need your goalkeeper to play well and Sam Johnstone looks a very good young goalkeeper – I think he’ll relish the challenge to play week in, week out.”
Despite being yet to make his Manchester United senior debut, Johnstone has over 80 appearances in the Football League and will bring more experience than Pierluigi Gollini. The signing may also question the future of 32-year-old Mark Bunn.
The Preston-born goalkeeper could make his league debut on Thursday’s trip to Reading. The Royals are flying-high in third spot in the Championship.