JACK Stevens’ debut proved worth the wait as the goalkeeper had a big hand in Oxford United’s Good Friday victory against Charlton Athletic.

Almost three years after signing his first professional contract, the stopper was thrust into the action following Simon Eastwood’s red card.

It was a tough baptism for Stevens, with the U’s coming under intense pressure even after Chris Solly’s dismissal evened up the numbers.

But the 21-year-old, whose senior experience has come in loan spells, most notably with Oxford City, made several key interventions to preserve the lead.

It included an outstanding reaction save to claw out Patrick Bauer’s shot.

While Stevens had no time to savour the moment, hearing supporters singing about him after the final whistle brought goosebumps.

“I’ve never had that before, it felt special,” he said.

“Coming in front of the home fans finally, it’s big for me and my family.

“After the save I think (Jamie) Mackie came up to me and was rubbing my hair, but I was more concerned about the corner.

“As a keeper you’re more concerned about the next one than enjoying the moment.”

It is thought Eastwood’s suspension will only be one game, but it means Stevens will keep his place for the Easter Monday trip to Shrewsbury Town.

The U’s No 1 was the last person to speak with Stevens before he stepped on to the pitch.

Stevens said: “Easty just wished me good luck. We get on quite well. I’m sure he was disappointed, but in a weird way happy for me.”

The goalkeeping heroics meant Luke Garbutt’s stunning free-kick was the match-winner.

The Everton loanee said: “I’m delighted. The boys put in a massive shift and in the end I think we deserved to win the game.

“We’re on the crest of a wave.

“I think that’s seven unbeaten now and the atmosphere around the club is brilliant.

“We’ve got a togetherness and a way of playing that’s getting us results.”