Jake Vokins said he “couldn’t be happier” after marking his home debut and first career start with a goal against Huddersfield in the Emirates FA Cup third round at St Mary’s.
The 19-year-old defender was determined to make an impression on just his second senior appearance – the first coming as a late substitute at Man City in the Carabao Cup – but scoring a goal possibly exceeded even his own expectations.
Receiving the ball wide on the left, Vokins went for glory and found it with a vicious shot that took a slight deflection en route to finding the net via the underside of the crossbar.
“It felt unbelievable to score in front of the fans on my first start for the club. I couldn’t be happier,” he said, after his late strike wrapped up a 2-0 victory.
“I think I had an option in Michael (Obafemi), but I thought, ‘I’m going to take a shot on here’, and luckily it hit the underside of the bar and went in.
“It’s joy, relief... I wanted to show what I could do tonight, and I think I took the opportunity well with that goal. I think I stood up to the plate and showcased what I’ve got.”
Vokins was joined on the scoresheet by fellow Academy graduate Will Smallbone, and now hopes there will be more opportunities to impress.
“I found out in training yesterday,” he said of his starting berth. “I felt a bit nervous because I wanted to show what I can do, but I just wanted to prepare right and play well.
“The advice I’ve been given from all the senior players has helped me very much, and I’m very grateful for that.
“Training with them day in day out helps me improve as a player, because obviously they’re at the top of their game.
“I’m still quite young so I still want to take my time and hopefully the manager will give me the opportunities, like he did today, and I can show what I’ve got.”