Blues steel pleases Pompey

Christian Burgess puts in a strong tackle. Picture: Joe Pepler
Christian Burgess puts in a strong tackle. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey’s steel has been praised as they passed their first away test with flying colours.

The Blues picked up a hard-earned 2-1 success at Plymouth in a competitive clash at Home Park on Saturday.

I thought a couple reverted to type from Plymouth, and we stood up to the test quite well.

Leam Richardson

Tempers flared in the second half and a heated exchange took place between players on the final whistle.

A clash between sub Jayden Stockley and defender Curtis Nelson led to Nelson being withdrawn with a cut above his eye.

Some niggly moments then ensued before Nelson tried to confront Stockley on the final whistle.

Much has been made of Pompey’s attacking philosophy since Paul Cook became manager.

But Blues assistant manager Leam Richardson was delighted with some different qualities shown from his team.

And he played down the flashpoint after the final whistle.

Richardson said: ‘He (Nelson) was unhappy. I thought it was a fair challenge and a clash of heads.

‘I think it was just a bit of frustration more than anything.

‘It was a bit hustle and bustle at times.

‘I said after the game that the pleasing thing was, when people come under pressure, people revert to type.

‘I thought a couple reverted to type from Plymouth, and we stood up to the test quite well.

‘We won’t get carried away, otherwise you get a smack on the chin.

‘The players have set the bar now and we need to keep raising it. Hopefully we can.’

Pompey looked resilient for the vast majority of the afternoon against Derek Adams’ side.

That was until Gregg Wylde’s 89th-minute goal made it a nervy final after Matt Tubbs and Gary Roberts put Pompey in control from the spot.

Richardson believes the team are seeing the benefits of work put in through pre-season.

He said: ‘In pre-season we did a lot of work out of possession of the ball.

‘We looked at being a good, solid shape and being hard to get round and through.

‘The players have taken it on board.

‘I can still see there is improvement in us. That’s pleasing.

‘It’s individually about knowing jobs.

‘The gaffer is big on rotation and a structure in a team.

‘The individuals might change but the job spec doesn’t.

‘So it’s important those players know their jobs when they go on the pitch.

‘It’s important for us to reiterate what we expect of them.

The third win in eight days undoubtedly has injected a huge dose of confidence into Pompey’s players.

Richardson acknowledged that was the case.

Richardson said: ‘The preparation and the application of the lads is turning into belief.

‘In football confidence is the key ingredient.

‘The wins so far will help give the lads the confidence needed to keep going.

‘It’s up to us to steer it as best we can.

‘If you get the work for 90-plus minutes then you can go a long way.’