The art of taking penalties and credit where it's due, despite Timm Klose's momentary absence - Steven Whittaker reflects on a useful piece of FA Cup action for Norwich City against Southampton
Steven Whittaker knows as much as anyone - getting a goal can only help your cause.
The Scottish defender has been somewhat unlucky to see such little action during the first half of such a stodgy season.
So when a penalty gets awarded and it’s not entirely clear who is going to take it, no one could blame Whittaker for fancying a nibble – especially given his previous – to underline what was his man of the match performance.
“It’s nice, obviously – and I think hitting the penalty and being on the scoresheet helps that matter, and then setting up Steven (Naismith) for the equaliser,” said Whittaker, his with customary modesty.
“They’re nice moments in the game but I think the team performance was great. We never gave in, dug in together, got back in shape when we needed to and we believed we could get something out of the game.
“It wasn’t decided who would take penalties before. Normally strikers step up and hit the pens but no one was really forthcoming, and Cameron (Jerome) was down having won it, he was still on the ground, so I managed to get the ball and step up.
“I think Pritch (Alex Pritchard) was a little bit ‘I might take it, I’ll take it’ – but I said no, give it to me.
“It was actually Steven – I played with him at Rangers and he knew that I was quite comfortable hitting penalties. He said go and hit it, so I stepped up.
“Everyone can score penalties. It’s just one of those things about keeping your nerve, not switching your mind at the last minute and striking the ball cleanly.
“I hit a few in Scotland for Rangers and I hit one last season against Everton in the League Cup, and managed to score that. So it’s a situation that I quite enjoy actually.”
As for at the other end Whittaker felt there was credit due to Southampton centre-back Maya Yoshida, despite Timm Klose’s momentary injury absence.
“Of course, if your centre-back is off the park and that’s the area the header came in from, then it’s definitely something that would’ve helped,” he said.
“But to be fair, it’s a great header. He hit it like a bullet. I didn’t see what had happened. I didn’t even realise Timm was off the park until he came on and got treatment – you’re that involved in the game, concentrating on your own areas and your own men.
“Yes it was unfortunate they scored when Timm was off the pitch, but we’ll learn from it.”
At least Whittaker’s cross for Naismith’s injury-time equaliser preserved some forward momentum.
“The manager stressed the Derby performance was good, and we wanted to continue that with a good performance today against a quality side, and we feel like we did that.
“Hopefully we’ll carry that momentum forward. It’s a positive run and we’ll try to take that to Rotherham.”