Blues boss plays down system impact

Johnny Ertl and Gavin Mahon battle for the ball. Picture: Joe Pepler
Johnny Ertl and Gavin Mahon battle for the ball. Picture: Joe Pepler
Scott Giles  Photography by Habibur Rahman

Genius who studied in Havant is off to Oxford University with five A and A*s under his belt

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It was all change in both personnel and formation from the side which destroyed Rochdale to get Pompey’s season back on track.

But Guy Whittingham denied the system was responsible for last night’s below-par first-half showing.

He also shot down suggestions changing it prompted the transformation.

The Blues boss made three changes with Joe Devera, Thery Racon and Patrick Agyemang left out of the side, the first two not even making the squad.

Instead Yassin Moutaouakil, Gavin Mahon and Romain Padovani came into the team.

While John Marquis was asked to lead the attack as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 shape.

Ultimately, the introduction of Agyemang from the bench saw the visitors revert to a 4-4-2 system, changing the game in their favour as they ran out 2-1 victors.

But Whittingham believes the result had nothing to do with how his team was set up.

He said: ‘Tom Craddock had an injection in his knee on Saturday and he will be training tomorrow.

‘He wasn’t available and we didn’t want to give that away before the game.

‘We felt that Pat is the fulcrum of the side. He works very hard for us all the time and we wanted to try to give him a bit of a rest.

‘So looking at the players we had left we decided to go for a system like that.

‘There weren’t really any other strikers to bring in.

‘It wasn’t the system that stopped us from playing well, though. It was the desire to work hard which stopped us in the first half – and that is what the half-time team talk was about.

‘We kept the same system after the break and suddenly we were the better side.

‘In any game people talk a lot about systems.

‘It’s not the system, it’s about how you play. We didn’t play well enough in the first half.

‘But what a fantastic goal from Patrick.’

Joining Craddock on the sidelines last night were Simon Ferry and Danny East (both hamstring) and David Connolly (calf).

The trio were also absent last weekend.

Racon and Devera were rested from the squad completely having both lined up in Saturday’s 3-0 success over Rochdale.

The Blues go to Plymouth on Saturday and they will surely figure.

John Sullivan and Dan Butler were also missing from the squad.

And Ashley Harris, although having left the Hawks from a scheduled one-month spell early, is still officially registered at Westleigh Park until the end of his loan.

Meanwhile, Marcos Painter became the latest casualty when he was forced off in the 17th minute through injury, to be replaced at left-back by the ever-versatile Shaun Cooper.

Whittingham added: ‘Painter took a kick to the calf and will be in today for treatment.

‘It’s disappointing with the injuries at the moment.

‘They are little niggling injuries, not really long term.

‘They seem to be a week, two weeks or three or four weeks which doesn’t help us build that consistency in the side.’