Sign language helps Nicholls stop spot-kicks

Lee Nicholls celebrates denying Callum Reilly from the spot
Lee Nicholls celebrates denying Callum Reilly from the spot

A series of gestures from the sidelines helped Lee Nicholls know where to dive to deny AFC Wimbledon's penalty takers on Tuesday night.

Only two of six penalties Nicholls has faced against AFC Wimbledon have found the back of the net, with five of those spot kicks coming in the Carabao Cup shoot-out earlier this week.

Goalkeeping coach Mel Gwinnett

Goalkeeping coach Mel Gwinnett

Having saved Joe Pigott's penalty in normal time, then diving to deny Callum Reilly in the shoot-out, Nicholls said he and Mel Gwinnett have a code among themselves to help give the keeper the best chance of making a stop.

"As soon as (the first penalty) was given, I was looking over at Mel," said Nicholls, who also saved a penalty when the sides met in 2017. "We have a little way of telling each other where to go, and the message came across well!

"I wouldn't say there's any pressure on a keeper, it's all on the taker. You have to do your homework, and execute it on the day. We look at all the penalties, see different pressures, little signs, like if he lifts his arm, he might go one way, stuff like that.

"Obviously he could put it anywhere, it's not a guarantee but we can only do our homework and hope for the best."

On the win over AFC Wimbledon, Nicholls added: "It was eventful, but a good game to be involved in. I'm made up to come away with the win, I thought we played really well and I'm glad we're in the next round.

"There is a lot of history in the game, and it means a lot to the fans. It's easier to get up for games when there are things like that, especially when there's so much history in the fixture. You prepare the same way though, but as soon as you walk onto the pitch, you sense the atmosphere and it riles you up."