Jonathan Spector was eager to celebrate his first senior goal as part of a superb central midfield display for West Ham United against Derby County on Saturday.
The 21-year-old United States international made his name at Manchester United as a promising defender but in recent weeks has shown an aptitude for a role further forward - underlined by his contribution against Derby. He has come off the bench three times in an advanced anchor role but found out on Friday that he would be starting in that position at Pride Park.
"Hayden [Mullins] wasn't fit so he didn't make the trip," he said. "At that point I knew I would be playing. Fortunately it wasn't completely foreign to me as I had two halves there as well as ten minutes against Portsmouth." Against Derby, Spector more than held his own in a gritty away display that saw the visitors nick a first-half goal through Lee Bowyer and then make sure of the initiative after the interval.
"We worked really hard," Spector added. "We had to and it was a pretty emphatic result in the end. We knew the first goal was going to be important in the second half and when we got that it opened the floodgates." That crucial second came from Matthew Etherington but it was Spector himself who proved the unlikely source of the third goal, although it needed a bit of help from a fellow American, the Derby winger Eddie Lewis.
Taking up the story, he said: "It was a set-piece. The ball was half cleared and it came to me. I just tried to place it in the corner. Eddie Lewis was there and kind of fumbling with it and it went over the line. Hopefully it won't be taken away from me as it will be my first goal ever. If the [disputed goals] panel don't give it to me, I'll have Eddie call them and tell them it wasn't an own goal!"
Of more concern to Spector though is getting another chance in the team and an ankle injury to left-back George McCartney could open the door to a more familiar outing in the next Premier League fixture at home to Tottenham Hotspur on 25 November. That said, Lee Bowyer, his central midfield colleague on Saturday, will be suspended after five cautions and is also due to have a groin operation early next week.
For Spector, he is just content to get the chance to play his part. "I'll take any opportunity to play. We have to see what happens. Wherever I am asked to play, I am happy to play."