Club news

Walton: It Was The Best Night Of My Career

By Kieran Cleeves • 20 February 2018

Brighton & Hove Albion goalkeeper Christian Walton was proud to play his part in last night’s Emirates FA Cup giant-killing against Manchester City, as the shot-stopper helped Wigan Athletic shock the footballing world.

The 22-year-old, who is currently on loan with the Latics, kept a clean sheet against Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders, on a special evening at the DW Stadium that saw the League One club win 1-0 to reach the quarter-finals.

Will Grigg scored the winning goal for Wigan after the break, following Fabian Delph’s sending off on the stroke of half-time, and Walton reflected on a memorable night that ranks highest in his career.

He said, “It was probably the best night of my life in football. On the night, the manager prepared us well and we stuck to our game plan and stayed solid throughout the 90 minutes.

“Just before halftime they got the lad sent off which made the game a bit heated, but that gave us a boost for the second half.

“It was massively psychological - the manager said before the game ‘they’re just normal human beings that are very talented footballers.’

“They obviously worked us hard and made sure we had to concentrate for the full game, because if you lose a little bit of concentration, they can punish you.

“I thought we were good on that side of the game and it was a great platform to show how well we’ve done this season, in front of the millions watching on TV.”

City had over 80% of the possession at the DW Stadium but couldn’t break down Wigan’s resilient defence, and Walton was forced into a string of fine saves to deny the likes of Ilkay Gundogan and Sergio Aguero.

“Talking to the back four was the main thing for me last night, it can keep you in the game. They had unbelievable amounts of pressure, so it was extremely important to remain focused.

“It was nice to make the save just before half-time from Aguero to keep it at 0-0. The resulting corner then got headed out and Delph got sent off from the resulting tackle.

“It was a little bit surreal [coming up against Manchester City] but it’s something that you just have to embrace and enjoy. It’s the level that I want to play at, and I want to test myself against those types of players.

“These cup competitions are brilliant for things like that, and it’s all part of the loan experience really.”

Wigan had already beaten West Ham United and AFC Bournemouth in the competition, and will now face another Premier League opponent in the last eight, as they welcome Southampton to the DW Stadium.

“We’ve kept two clean sheets against Premier League opposition in the FA Cup and obviously beat Bournemouth over two games. I think Southampton will be there for the taking.

“We need to beat Rochdale at home on Saturday and then hopefully win the next few, as that will give us massive confidence going into the Southampton game.”