“Commanding and demanding” – Dundee manager James McPake has been delighted with the impact made by goalkeeper Adam Legzdins.
The Dens Park boss admitted it was a tough call to swap out Jack Hamilton for Legzdins after 14 consecutive appearances for the former Scotland squad man.
However, that decision has been rewarded by two clean sheets in three matches for Legzdins – doubling the Dark Blues league tally this term.
The ex-Birmingham City and Derby County stopper saved a penalty against Arbroath on his return to the team then suffered along with his team-mates in a 3-1 home defeat to Ayr.
However, he was back to keeping a clean sheet at Alloa on Friday night, despite a barrage of corners and free-kicks sent his way in the closing stages at the Indodrill Stadium.
‘Deserved his clean sheet’
Defending set-pieces has been an issue for the Dark Blues already this season but McPake was heartened by his team’s attitude in keeping the Wasps out.
He said: “I thought Adam was excellent on Friday and deserved his clean sheet.
“Defensively as a group we were excellent – and I’m talking about the full team.
“We worked really hard defensively on Friday night. They had a lot of corners but that showed our willingness to stop balls into the box at source and then defend the box.
“I thought Adam and the two centre-backs in particular defended the box great. It’s not easy when those balls are coming in, we saw that in the game at Alloa earlier in the season.
“I was really pleased with that and, with five minutes to go, you don’t want to take the polish off by conceding a sloppy goal.
“You could see they were desperate to keep the clean sheet and how much it meant to the players as well.”
Having played for the likes of Derby, Crewe, Burton Albion and then a squad goalkeeper at Premier League Burnley, Legzdins has plenty of experience since coming through the Birmingham City academy in 2005.
After leaving Turf Moor, he arrived at Dundee in October with the No 1 spot up for grabs at Dens Park as McPake chopped and changed between Hamilton and young goalie Calum Ferrie.
After making his debut in a poor 2-0 defeat at Ayr, though there was little blame for the goalkeeper that day, injury struck.
A troublesome calf problem on the eve of a League Cup match at Hibs saw Legzdins out of action for almost two months.
He returned to fitness but had to remain patient in waiting for his chance against Arbroath last weekend and has made a real impact since.
‘Vocal and commanding’
With no crowds at matches this season, it doesn’t take long to notice the effect Legzdins has on more than just his penalty area.
Even watching on online streams, fans will be able to make out the goalkeeper yelling instructions to team-mates.
McPake says it’s good to see the 34-year-old use his experience to help the team through difficult moments – even if it has led to one or two very loud disagreements for everyone to hear.
“He is vocal and commanding – and demanding of his team-mates as well,” the Dens boss added.
“I think we had the two loudest voices in Scottish football yelling at each other on Friday – him and Lee Ashcroft.
When there’s no fans there, it’s tough to tell them to shut up and get on with it.
“Adam has played at a high level, don’t forget. He has done really well since coming in.
“The penalty save against Arbroath was huge, I don’t think he could’ve done much against Ayr and then he got another clean sheet on Friday.
“His presence in the goals has been really important.”