Spot-kick hero Ben Williams today admitted: “I got lucky”, after making the penalty save which clinched Hibs’ place in the last eight of the William Hill Scottish Cup.
The Easter Road outfit, ahead thanks to a spectacular strike from Gary Deegan – his first for the club – were facing a replay at Pittodrie a week tomorrow when skipper James McPake was adjudged to have illegally bundled over Dons winger Jonny Hayes eight minutes from time. But Williams, who had saved a penalty from Aberdeen’s top scorer Niall McGinn when the sides met in the Granite City seven days previously, stunned former Colchester United team-mate Scott Vernon by tipping his shot from 12 yards on to the post before showing stunning presence of mind to hook the rebound back into his arms with his leg before the striker could reach the rebound.
Incredibly, it was the 30-year-old’s fourth penalty stop this season which, along with Motherwell hitman Michael Higdon’s miss at Fir Park, means he has only had to pick one of the six he has faced out of the back of his net. Although Williams has previously revealed he studies each team’s spot-kick takers, he admitted that on this occasion he’d
enjoyed a touch of luck.
He said: “To be honest, that was a guess. I was fairly confident Scott would go that way, fortunately he did and it was within reach.
“It was great for us to win and progress but you feel sorry for him as it’s not a nice way for a friend to bow out of the Cup. But it is what it is, you have to be professional about these things and I think it was thoroughly deserved with the goal Gary Deegan scored.”
Former Manchester United goalie Williams revealed he couldn’t recall facing so many penalties in a season, but admitted he was delighted each of his saves had brought a reward for Pat Fenlon’s side.
He said: “It’s probably the most penalties I have faced in one season. I’ve saved four, five out of six haven’t gone in so it’s a great return for a goalkeeper but I don’t attach too much significance to it.
“It’s just one of those things, at the end of the day it’s 50/50 but what helps the goalkeeper is that people usually aren’t
expecting you to save it.
“If you can it gives the team a bit of a lift and each time I have saved one we have got a good result, either in the league or making progression in the Cup. Long may that continue.”