Dave Martin has reflected on his first Sky Bet Championship game this season, keeping a clean sheet as Millwall took a 2-0 victory home from Birmingham City on Wednesday night.
Regularly Jordan Archer’s understudy so far this season, Martin made his first League appearance for The Lions since December 2017 – in which he also kept a clean sheet on Midlands soil at Aston Villa – and has spoken of his relief and enjoyment at the win.
“Personally, I feel relief for myself after the game,” the goalkeeper says.
“Obviously I hadn’t played for a long time, and I didn’t want to go in there and let anyone down, especially the gaffer and the supporters that travelled.
“It was important to keep a clean sheet away from home, and of course to get three vital points was much needed. It was a tough game – especially the second half – but I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Martin credits the way The Lions defended all over the pitch, and explains the hard work from the trio of first-team stoppers on the training ground with goalkeeping coach Lee Turner.
“[Birmingham] tried to play on Pearcey where Coops is a quite a bit bigger, but he dealt with everything really well. The lads in front of them performed brilliantly and picked up the pieces, and we counter-attacked really well. It was a proper team performance.
“I found out I would be playing the day before, with the gaffer giving me some time to get my mind on it. That preparation is what you need, and to believe in yourself, and that’s what I’ve done throughout this whole process.
“It has been tough, but you need to stay focused every day and work as hard as you can. I’ve been working hard with LT [Lee Turner] along with Jordan and Ben [Amos], and you just want to play and be the best. Thankfully the manager gave me my chance here and the lads in front of me were magnificent, so it made a big difference.”
The 33-year-old, formerly first-choice at Leicester City and MK Dons, states he has plenty of time on his side yet, and applauds Neil Harris for the way he has handled the team selection situation.
“I’ve played a lot of games in my career, so I’d be the elder statesman of the goalkeepers, so to speak. But I still have a few years left in me yet.
“The majority of the time it’s in your head where you keep all that experience, so at anytime I need to be called upon, I’m always ready and always have been.
“The gaffer has always been really good with me, and in conversations with him I’ve told him I’m ready. It was good to get three points here for him.”
Martin finally lauds what a “great club” Millwall is, and adds that he hopes to be involved this Sunday as The Lions take on Brighton & Hove Albion in the Emirates FA Cup Quarter-Final.
“This is a great club to be a part of. I didn’t really realise when I walked through the door what a club it is here. You just need to do the simple things well, give it 100%, and you’ll get the Millwall fans behind you.
“Of course [I want to be involved on Sunday]. If I had been third choice and was asked that, I would still be fighting for a place. But, it’s up to the gaffer, and Jordan has done well in the Cup games this season.
“I don’t want to speculate, but I’ll of course be ready if I’m needed, and that goes for every other game this season. I just hope that whether I’m in the side or not, the team use this result as a benchmark to carry on and work towards safety.”