Zach Hemming had an excellent start to his loan spell at Kilmarnock.
The 21-year-old goalkeeper has had stints at Darlington, Blyth Spartans and Hartlepool before but has taken a big step forward this summer by agreeing to join Killie in the Scottish Championship.
He couldn’t have asked for a better start in life there. With his team second in the standings, Hemming kept five clean sheets in six games, conceding just one goal in the loss to league leaders Inverness.
And this excellent form did not go unnoticed, the shooter having been voted the club’s player of the month for August.
Hemming’s goal is obvious. Impress in Scotland this season before returning to Teesside next summer where he hopes to then make a breakthrough in Boro’s first team.
With former Ireland international Colin Doyle as East Ayrshire club’s goalkeeper coach and former Newcastle United and Northern Ireland goalkeeper Tommy Wright, Hemming certainly has plenty of experienced heads around. him to help him develop.
“Doyle is good as a coach, it’s nice to have someone as experienced as him,” the youngster told Kilmarnock Standard.
“Obviously he’s not retired for a long time so he’s a modern goalie, he helps a lot and that just adds to the experience.
“The gaffer is obviously a former goalkeeper as well, but he’s more traditional and just wants to keep the ball out of the net.
“It’s always good to have these guys around me because I can feed off their experience and integrate it.
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“I enjoyed my stay here, it’s great. This is important to me because it means that I can just focus on football without worrying about anything else.
“It’s a good dressing room and everyone gets along well, you need it to get everyone playing for each other.
“There are no big egos, everyone is nice and we all get along and work for each other.”
The Rugby Park environment clearly benefits young Hemming and the 21-year-old has impressed so far.
In addition to many important saves, Wright was particularly pleased with the mastery of his region in his most recent victory of the weekend after having to contend with an early storm.
But after winning the player of the month award, the humble Hemming preferred to recognize that the excellent clean sheets record was a team effort.
He said: “Yeah, it’s a good feeling to win the award.
“But it wasn’t just because of me that we kept the sheets clean, the defense was great – but I’ll take it!”
“We had a great start and I hope that will give us confidence for the rest of the season.
“It’s good to be so strong at the back, if we can keep the ball out of the net all season we would win 1-0 every week.
“Some games that you’re supposed to win by more, it’s tough because every game is tough.
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“A lot of teams are against us so we have to focus on avoiding conceding and hopefully scoring a goal or two on the other end.”
He added, “It’s personally good every week to have the confidence that I can keep a clean sheet.
“Sometimes it’s just about keeping my focus because I might not have much to do so I have to make a save at the end to keep a clean sheet.
“Points are at stake when I’m faced with situations like this at the end, but all I can do is to my best and hope to help the boys.
“I just have to keep focusing on getting clean sheets, hopefully there will be plenty more to come.”
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