Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Black Cat Liam in Penalty Relief

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Black Cat Liam in Penalty Relief

Article excerpt

Byline: By Paul Gilder

Sunderland winger Liam Lawrence is confident that he has finally exorcised the demons of his darkest hour in football after scoring his first goal in a red-and-white shirt.

The 22-year-old marked his recall to first-team action by converting a late penalty on Saturday to set the seal on a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion which has further improved the club's promotion prospects.

It was Lawrence's first spot-kick since he missed the decisive penalty in last season's Third Division play-off final shoot-out at the Millennium Stadium to condemn Mansfield to another year in the fourth tier of the English game.

And, although he last night admitted that couldn't dispel that haunting failure from his thoughts as he stepped up to face Michel Kuipers, Lawrence is hoping he will now be able to put the memory behind him as he strives to re-establish himself as one of domestic football's foremost penalty specialists.

"I had no qualms about taking it," revealed a player who, prior to the Cardiff play-off final, had successfully converted 12 of his 13 penalties for the Nottinghamshire club last term. "As soon as the penalty was awarded on Saturday I wanted that ball, I wanted to take it.

"Julio (Arca) said that he wanted to take it but I hung onto the ball and I'm glad that I did. I'm just glad Marcus (Stewart) wasn't on the pitch because, if he had been, I don't think I would have been able to keep hold of the ball.

"I did think about the play-off final and about missing that penalty. But I just tried to put it out of my head as quickly as possible and think more positive thoughts. Thankfully I managed to do that and I put it away." Lawrence's penalty failure in May ( his final act in a Mansfield shirt before completing his summer move to the North-East ( came in front of 37,000 supporters and a live television audience. …

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