By Tony Leighton
That old phrase, 'Local boy makes good,' might have been coined for Wycombe Wanderers' hugely promising teenage goalkeeper Matt Ingram - a lifelong Chairboys fan who grew up in a village just five miles from Adams Park and went to school a similar distance from the League 2 club's training ground.
When Ingram, a fortnight before his 20th birthday, steps out to face Portsmouth at Fratton Park on Wednesday evening in Sky Bet League 2 it will be to make his 33rd consecutive appearance since making his debut in March and, having in that run of games, firmly established himself as the club's first choice keeper.
He has taken his chance - quite literally - with both hands, after being given his debut due to the previous number one Jordan Archer, on loan last season from Tottenham Hotspur, being recalled by the Premier League club. And after just 32 senior games, the youngster is already being tipped for a big, big future.
Perhaps it was on the cards from an early age for a player who joined his local club at the age of 12 after showing his promise from his early schooldays. Ingram told football-league.co.uk: "When I started playing I got stuck in goal just because I was one of the biggest kids, but I always enjoyed being the keeper.
"I played in other positions as well, but my best position was in goal and that's how my career got started. I had a good upbringing at the club, and although I'm still very young in goalkeeping terms it's great to be learning and developing in the first team and hopefully I'll continue to improve."
Ingram's continuing improvement has shown in the keeper's near-faultless League 2 performances to date, though his team's fine start to the season has been halted in a seven-match winless run that has seen the Chairboys drop from the Play-Off places to 16th in the table ahead of the game at Pompey.
"We're still playing some good football," said Ingram, "but we've been inconsistent at times and although we've also had some bad luck we've just not been putting the ball in the net. We need a win to get us going again, and if we can get three points at Portsmouth that can be our springboard.
"I'm really looking forward to the game. Fratton Park's a big stadium, they get big crowds and there should be a great atmosphere in the ground. It's going to be a tough match, but this is our game in hand and a win will start us moving back towards the Play-Off places - and that's where we want to be."
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Image kindly provided by Paul Dennis.