12:43pm Tuesday 6th August 2013
JAMIE STEPHENS was given the nod over one of his boyhood heroes when he made his Football League debut last Saturday.
The 19-year-old goalkeeper from Wotton-under-Edge played in Newport County’s first Football League game in 25 years and helped them to a 4-1 victory over Accrington in front 4,631 fans at Rodney Parade.
Stephens did not expect to be the Exiles’ first choice goalkeeper when he arrived at Rodney Parade from Liverpool Academy but with regular stopper Lenny Pidgeley unavailable for pre-season due to personal problems he grabbed his chance.
He was selected for the League Two opener ahead of former Forest Green goalkeeper James Bittner, who was on the bench having signed a one-month deal with the club before the season.
“Bitts is a great bloke and a top goalkeeper,” said Stephens, who played youth football for Forest Green as well as Wotton, Kingswood and Wickwar.
“I’m a Forest Green fan so I used to watch him at the New Lawn – not that he likes me reminding him that I watched him when I was a kid!
“He’s 12 years older than me and we have a laugh about that but him and Lenny Pidgeley are great guys and great keepers and I can only learn from training with them.
“Everyone feeds off each other and I pick up little things in training every day.
“Hopefully I can improve as a player and as a person and do well for the team.
“First team football is very different from youth team football and it is just a privilege to be here really.”
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