Everybody, including the striker of the ball, knew that the shot was going in. Jay Rodriguez couldn’t have asked for a better strike nor a better angle. He plants his standing leg and whips his shooting foot around the ball curling it as close to the top corner as he can. It was a set-piece in playing motion and was hit as well as any free-kick could be.
To say the least, the ball was going in - until it wasn’t.
As the ball is hit, glances are removed from it. Jay Rodriguez (rightly) moves to start celebrating. However, one pair of eyes remain locked onto the ball as it continued it’s arc towards the net. Jed Steer, the Aston Villa goalkeeper, leans into the shot and then dives across the goal to reach it. His touch on the ball is the faintest - a feathered kiss of the glove between the thumb and the pointing finger - but it’s enough. Just about. The ball is aided onto the crossbar and removed from the goalmouth. A save - barely completed - but a save nonetheless. A save by all definitions of the word. A save in complete meaning. It was impossible to think that Steer, or anybody, would be able to reach the ball - but he did - and in doing so, prevented as a certain a goal as possible.
Jed Steer saved Aston Villa - so that they could go on to win the match. In true Albion fashion, they were allowed two low-quality chances to score - and they would have buried both if not for Jed Steer in the Villa goal. Without that save, Villa don’t win the match.
There’s been plenty of questions raised about the goalkeeper position at AVFC, and plenty of bodies have filled in this season. Jed Steer has had to bide his time to claim a starting spot, in true, and with almost every passing game cements his claim to that starting position.