THE rest of the country should get the chance to discover this weekend why Tranmere believe they boast one of the best goalkeepers in the lower divisions in Owain Fon Williams.
Rovers’ FA Cup first round tie with Braintree Town will be shown live on ITV1 on Sunday lunchtime and Fon Williams’ task will be to ensure the Conference club from Essex don’t achieve the giantkilling upset the national broadcaster is looking for.
The 25-year-old Welshman kept 16 clean sheets during 2011/12, an impressive figure when you consider Tranmere spent most of the League One campaign fighting off the threat of relegation.
This term Fon Williams hopes to do even better. Only three League One teams have conceded fewer than the 14 goals to go past him in 15 games and he has six clean sheets already under his belt.
Keeping clean sheets is something of an obsession for Fon Williams. He admits to an all consuming devotion to his trade that reminds you of the finest of all Welsh goalkeepers, Neville Southall.
“Every season I set a little target for myself – how many clean sheets can I keep,” Fon Williams said. “I won’t say how many I want but 16 wasn’t bad for last season and hopefully I will get a few more than that.”
Fon Williams revels in what he sees as a personal battle between himself and the opposing player who wants to put the ball past him.
He said: “A lot of goalkeeping is about what goes on in your head. You have to figure out how the attacking player thinks he is going to get the ball into the goal behind you. I do everything I can to stop him.
“I thrive on that process. It is like a buzz, trying to out-think the guy who is running towards you with the ball, making sure you stop that ball going into the net.
“I just love the thought of stopping the opposing player from doing his job. It is what I’ve liked to do since I was a little boy, growing up with two older brothers who bullied me into going in goal.”
Those brothers, Alun and Gethin, play for Nantlle Vale, the team from the North Wales village between Caernarfon and Porthmadog where the family grew up.
Fon Williams became so good in the family shoot-ins that he secured a place in the youth set-up at Crewe in 2006. He joined Stockport County and played 91 games in three seasons. After spending the second half of the 2010/11 season with Rochdale, he joined Tranmere in the summer of 2011 and has 58 senior games under his belt.
“I love every minute of being here,” Fon Williams said. “I can’t thank everyone at Tranmere enough for what’s happened to me since I’ve been here.”