Michael Johnson says Hitchin Town will be expecting a ‘tough, physical’ challenge when they battle Leamington for promotion on Monday.

The Canaries head to Warwickshire having beaten Merthyr Town in a blood-and-thunder tie on Wednesday evening, a match during which the Hitchin goalkeeper pulled off a string of fantastic saves in normal and injury time before keeping out two Merthyr penalties in a 4-1 shoot-out win.

Johnson thinks that performance, which saw Hitchin on the back foot in the latter parts of the game as their long journey weighed heavily on tired legs, was his best in football so far, and the 23-year-old hopes that the Canaries can go one further with victory against Leamington on Monday.

“We know what to expect from Leamington,” said Johnson, who didn’t get home until just before 5am on Thursday morning after the journey back from south Wales.

“They are physical and play a lot of long balls, but they’ve also got a couple of good ball players as well.”

Hitchin are undefeated in two matches against The Brakes this season, having beaten them 2-1 in Leamington in December and holding them to a goalless draw in March, but Johnson believes that counts for little ahead of Monday’s game which could be played out in front of as many as 2,000 supporters.

“Slough beat Leamington 6-0 away [in January] and lost 1-0 on Wednesday night to them, so it’s a one-off game on Monday,” the goalkeeper said.

Video clips of Johnson’s performance midweek have been shared on social media and the keeper has received plenty of online plaudits this week, particularly for his penalty saves, while his team-mates did the business with their own spot kicks.

“We don’t practice penalties,” Johnson said. “We’ve probably practiced them just once in the last two or three years.

“I’m a good reader of where they are going to go. It’s not often that I don’t go the right way. I judge [the dive] on how they run up to the ball.

“I’ve been thinking about that performance and my other ones, and it’s probably the best game I’ve ever played. Definitely for Hitchin.

“And the more saves I made the more the team believed it would be our night.”

And it was.