Pat Lee Nichols and Alfie Sayers team up to bring the 23rd instalment of The Goalkeeper's Chronicle, where we encourage you to do your homework, kids.
The Chronicle has shed light on some of goalkeeping's more quirky moments over the last six months, yet it is in today's edition that we may have reached the apex. This week's comic will look at yet another goalkeeper producing the goods at the other end of the pitch, a Premier League number one showing incredible bottle (if you'll pardon the pun) midweek, and a future Three Lions' number one on the move to a big hitter.
The NWSL is throwing up some real spectacles so far this season. Today's it's the turn of Bella Bixby of Portland Thorns. Let us set the scene:
It's matchday five and Portland find themselves at the top of the NWSL. They have yet to lose a game, and looked to stretch that run further when they faced Angel City FC on Sunday evening at home. The game was action filled, with plenty of goals on offer.
The game started poorly for Bixby, as she was seen to be visibly frustrated after conceding at her near post in the opening exchanges [cue pundit struggling to contain their excitement here]. The goals continued to flow for both sides and the score read 3-2 to the travelling Angel City side as the game approached its resolution.
However, as long as there's still time on the clock, anything can happen.
Even a goalkeeper scoring a back-heel equaliser in the 97th minute with the last kick of the game?
Oh yes, even that.
The box was packed for a last minute corner that seemed a last ditch attempt to salvage a point. Unfortunately for opposition goalkeeper DiDi Haračić, this was a late goal she'll not be watching back. Her fumbled attempt at claiming the corner allowed the ball to fall in the vicinity of the quick thinking Bixby. With great poise, she provided a sublime back-heel to send the 17,000 in attendance into a frenzy.
The unbeaten streak is extended by the most unlikely of sources. Well done Bella Bixby!
Check out the goal for yourself below.
Premier League football fans have been treated to games every day this week, including significant matchups at both ends of the table. The standout fixture on paper was Arsenal vs Chelsea, but it was Leicester vs Everton on Monday night that was filled with goalkeeping drama. A wonderful flicked wrist save over the crossbar from Daniel Iversen to deny Alex Iwobi in the 9th minute really set the tone for what was to come.
An Everton penalty was awarded shortly after and buried by Dominic Calvert-Lewin to give them some reward for their strong start to proceedings. The Foxes rallied with two goals in quick succession to leave them 2-1 to the good after 34 minutes. A nasty Seamus Coleman injury delayed the half time whistle; in the resulting added time there was a golden chance for Leicester to score a third from a James Maddison penalty.
The aforementioned Maddison stepped up, and to everyone’s surprise he opted to rather tamely strike the ball into the centre of the goal. The only person who was expecting it seemed to be Pickford. The England number one planted himself centrally, palming the effort away from danger.
It would be later picked up by the Sky Sports cameras that his water bottle had doubled up as penalty revision material. Scribed clearly on the bottle was the % of Maddison’s penalty placement, with 60% of his penalties going straight down the middle.
Proof that doing your homework can help with the big exam.
The game would end 2-2, thanks largely to some ingenuity from the goalkeeping department that may just keep Everton in the Premier League.
Moulding goalkeepers in the style of a theoretical ‘future’ number one is a difficult task for any academy, although can be helped largely by Goalkeeper xG data.
But, much like Pickford, it seems like Manchester City have also done their homework.
The competency of the recruitment team at Manchester City shines through in the young goalkeepers they have acquired in recent years.
The most recent are James Trafford and Gavin Bazunu, who are both proving to be capable young goalkeepers likely to share a Championship pitch next season. It's now being reported by Fabrizio Romano that another young English goalkeeper is set to join the Citizens: current Wimbledon Under 16 goalkeeper Thorsten ‘Spike’ Brits.
Already involved in the Three Lions' youth set up and impressing for the AFC Wimbledon academy, 15 year old Brits’ ceiling is limitless. Many who have seen him play have raved at his huge potential. Goalkeeper.com recently spoke to Wimbledon's Head of Goalkeeping Ashley Bayes, who commented on the strength of youth in their department.
A national team call up came in November 2022, and he hasn't looked back since. In April 2023 he was part of the young lions side that played in the Mondial Montaigu tournament.
During the entirety of the tournament he would only concede one goal in the eight games played, coming up with his best display against a talented Japanese side in the final.
A first trophy of many for young Spike, we suspect. Remember the name.