Penalty hero Aaron McCarey admits it was the perfect end to his Wolves debut to save two spot kicks in front of the delighted South Bank.
The Republic of Ireland Under-21 international made his first senior start against Walsall, where he enjoyed a successful loan spell last season, and saved the first two penalties as Wolves ran out 4-2 winners.
“It’s nice to win – especially as it was a derby – and on a personal note, it was great to make my debut for Wolves and cap it off with two penalty saves,” says McCarey.
“There was a bit of luck involved – you just have to go with your heart and hope you save it but it was very good to get through and I’m very happy.
“I always thought when I made my debut it would be saving a penalty with a few minutes to go, so to actually do it was surreal, and in front of the South Bank as well just topped it off,” says McCarey.
“We’ve got great fans here and they’ve been superb all season.
“It was a very tight game – Walsall are a good team and Dean Smith has a great bunch of players; I know a lot about them and they play good football.
“They’re going to be up there come the end of the season and it gives us the edge going into the league games.
“But we’re just going out to win every game at the minute and see where it takes us.
“We were disappointed with the goals we conceded but teams will come all season with nothing to lose and that’s not being disrespectful to Walsall at all.
“Teams will know they’re coming to a big stadium with a big pitch playing against a big club and they will feel like they have nothing to lose.
“It’s going to be like that every game this season but if we can keep getting early goals, hopefully we’ll keep going and find the second one.
“We haven’t always taken our chances when we’ve been on top and we’ve allowed sides back into the games but it’s still a good start to the season.”
McCarey doesn’t think his spell at the Banks’s Stadium last season gave him any advantage going into last night’s shootout, but he is certainly appreciative of the opportunity, with the loan spell only coming to an end when he was called back to Molineux following Carl Ikeme’s injury.
And while keen for more first team football, he acknowledges the need to be patient, particularly given the quality of his goalkeeping rivals.
“I don’t think being at Walsall last season helped me with the penalties but I’m just grateful for Walsall for giving me the opportunity to play first-team football,” he added.
“I’ve come back here and the new manager has given me a chance.
“He’s put a bit of faith in me by letting Wayne Hennessey go out on loan so I’m delighted to make my debut – it’s been four years and I’ve worked very hard for it with Pat Mountain the goalkeeping coach and the keepers – Carl Ikeme and Wayne have been great with me and Dorus De Vries and Marcus Hahnemann as well.
“It’s very satisfying that the hard work I’ve put in has finally paid off.
“Now I’ve got a taste of it I want more but it’s going to be tough here because we’ve got quality keepers.
“So I’ve got to be patient – I’m still only 21 and you can name the amount of keepers who play first-team football on one hand so hopefully being here at a big club like Wolves, I can push on and carry on enjoying my football.”