Man of the match Elliot hopes for lift-off

CLEAN SHEET ... goalkeeper Rob Elliot.
CLEAN SHEET ... goalkeeper Rob Elliot.

ROB Elliot’s determined to finally get his Newcastle United career up and running after his man-of-the-match performance against Maritimo.

Elliot pulled off a string of saves in last night’s goalless draw against the Madeiran side.

It was the 26-year-old’s European debut – and only his second appearance – for the club he joined last year.

With first-choice Tim Krul injured, and Harper needed on Sunday against Norwich City, Pardew fielded Elliot between the posts.

And Elliot – whose debut came against Nottingham Forest more than exactly 12 months previously – was just pleased to have played in his part in the Europa League group stage game.

Martimo started well, and the former Charlton Athletic player twice denied Sami in the early stages.

“I hadn’t played for a year – I’ve been training hard, and waiting for my chance,” Elliot told the Gazette.

“I made a good early save, and that helped settle the nerves.

“It was my first game in Europe, and I was pleased to keep a clean sheet. There were a couple of things I could have done better, but I was pleased with my performance.

“I try not to highlight it – you’re there to make saves. It was just good to play a game – I’d only played the one for the club.

“I’d just signed when I played for Forest. Everything was a bit crazy.

“I’ve had a year of hard training, and I want to make everyone aware I’m a good keeper, and I’ve got ambitions.

“The gaffer put his faith in me, and I was really pleased. The lads in front of me were brilliant.

“They don’t lose many at home – their record’s fantastic. The pitch is questionable, and they’re used to playing on it.

“It took us 20 minutes to get used to it. It was hot out there. We were pleased with the point, and we could have maybe nicked it.”

United manager Alan Pardew praised Elliot’s contribution after the game, played out in energy-sapping heat and humidity.

“Rob has waited a long time – since the Forest game, really – to stake his claim,” he said.

“We know him very well, myself and the goalkeeping coach (Andy Woodman), because of Charlton, and this is a shot-stopper, this is a great goalkeeper.

“What he did at the start of the game is what he does in training every day, and I was pleased for him in every aspect of his game, very, very pleased with him.

“He was outstanding, as well as the back four against a really difficult surface and difficult opponents.”