BART Bialkowski credited hard work on the training ground for two vital saves he made in the 2-1 win over Charlton on Saturday.
Bialkowski got down low to block Josh Cullen’s effort before palming the ball away after it had hit the crossbar, and then produced one of the saves of the Championship season to tip Macauley Bonne’s vicious volley over the bar.
Charlton fans thought Cullen’s effort had gone over the line, but Bialkowski was sure he had done enough.
“I was confident it wasn’t over the line, but it was close,” he said. “It’s a good job we’ve got goal-line technology because otherwise the ref might have given the goal.
“I didn’t see him taking the shot, I’ve seen the ball late. The ball swerved a little bit inside of me, I went down to my right side and the ball hit me and then hit the crossbar, and I’ve palmed it away.
“I should have done better, but a save is a save, I’ll take it.”
Bialkowski denied Bonne in first-half added-time.
He said: “It was a reaction save. I’ve been working on those kinds of saves on the training pitch and that’s why you’re preparing yourself.
“When you’re training well and you’re doing everything right for the whole week before the game then you’re quite confident you’re going to make those kinds of saves on match-day.
“The credit must go to LT [Lee Turner] the goakeeping coach. He’s been absolutely brilliant with me and with other goalies as well. We’ve been working hard and it’s paying off. We just need to keep doing that.”
Bialkowski made another impressive save in the second half, to deny Darren Pratley, but Jonathan Leko’s deflected shot from the resulting corner finally beat him.
“I just put my hand to it and it went for a corner,” Bialkowski continued. “From that corner they scored so maybe I should have caught it! I was disappointed because I though the initial shot they had wasn’t going in. it took a deflection on the way.
“When you look at the chances maybe you would say a draw was a fair result. Recently we conceded two goals against Brentford in the last minutes of the game so we know how their players are feeling at the moment. But at the same time we’re happy.”
Bialkowski previously played for Ipswich against Norwich, and this was his first experience of a derby win.
“I can only speak for myself. I try to treat every game the same. Every game in the league is as important as this one,” Bialkowski said.
“Every derby is big for the fans but at the end of the day we’re playing for three points. It always matters.
“The atmosphere was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. The derby game, Ipswich against Norwich, is always great. It’s hard to compare it.
“But we won the game [Saturday] so the atmosphere was better. In my five years at Ipswich I didn’t beat Norwich so I didn’t know what the feeling of winning was like.
“It’s perfect, we can enjoy it for the two weeks. We’ll prepare for the next game but at this moment in time we’re going to enjoy it, definitely.
“Our home record is brilliant, we just need to find a way to get better results away from home. I’m sure we’re going to work on it on the training pitch.”
Image: Millwall FC