Burton Albion are not the most fashionable of sides and when it comes to exciting young talent, they’re not often amongst the teams noted for helping develop players.
They’re functional, organised and rely heavily on experienced professionals and fighting spirit. This season though, they’re breaking the mould by harbouring one of the most exciting young keepers in the EFL.
Manchester United have a history of producing particularly good goalkeepers in their academy. Sam Johnstone impressed during a loan spell with Aston Villa, enough to earn a move to West Brom.
Dean Henderson began his loan career in League One with Shrewsbury, but was a key part of Sheffield United’s promotion campaign.
Kieran O’Hara spent last season with Macclesfield Town and helped keep them in the Football League. He’s now with Nigel Clough’s Burton Albion; is he the next big stopper to emerge from Old Trafford? Our latest spotlight piece looks at his season so far.
O’Hara got a reputation for being an excellent shot-stopper whilst at Moss Rose. The young Ireland international played an important role in keeping his side in the Football League under Sol Campbell and got a taste of life at the sharp end of football.
That experience will have rounded him as a person, helping develop the attitude and understanding as much as the skills. That doesn’t mean he’s not a good keeper though and in 14 matches so far for the Brewers, he’s kept six clean sheets.
Of course, that is as much down to the defence as him, both ways around. If his defence let him down then he can be the best keeper in the world and let in goals, but if they’re on their game it makes his life easier. Overall, he concedes fewer than a goal a game which is a good stats for a young keeper.
His shot-stopping is exceptionally good and on average he’s making 3.18 stops per game. Almost half, 44.9%, are reflex saves. That’s a good number and it shows not only is he competent with efforts directly at him, but he’s able to make reflex stops that are the mark of a top keeper.
He’s also good in an aerial duel. For a keeper, this is a bit different to an outfield player and you’d expect the player using his hands to win most of his duels. This number includes coming for corners and set pieces, so winning 87.5% is again impressive.
His passing accuracy is important too, whether his team want to play out from the back or relieve pressure and go long from his kicks. His long pass accuracy is 79.6%, giving Burton a good outlet if they need to transition forward quickly.
All the stats add up to a very competent and accomplished young keeper who has every chance of becoming the next Dean Henderson.