Formation switch way forward for Pompey boss

Pompey's Michael Doyle celebrates with Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Michael Doyle celebrates with Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

  • Pompey switched to a 4-2-3-1 systems for the second half of their opening friendly
  • 24 players used by Blues in 1-1 Westleigh Park draw
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Pompey boss Paul Cook believes his team’s exciting second-half showing demonstrated the potential of his trusted formation.

The Blues came from behind to clinch a 1-1 draw at the Hawks on Saturday in their first pre-season fixture.

Michael Doyle cancelled out Adrian Clifton’s 21st-minute opener – but only after a system switch.

Cook operated with a 4-4-2 formation in the first-half, then swapped it after the break for his favoured 4-2-3-1.

Coupled with 10 half-time changes, including the introduction of Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett, the Blues were sparked into life and should have won comfortably.

Nonetheless, Cook felt an estimated crowd of 2,500 saw the benefits of the system he regularly used at Chesterfield.

We haven’t really touched the water with any type of shape yet. Without being disrespectful, we didn’t work out anything ahead of Saturday other than throwing two teams out there and at times they looked a little bit like that

Paul Cook

He said: ‘The first half showed exactly what I always feel when you play two strikers up front, the other team will have more of the ball than you like.

‘If you play against better teams they will probably hurt you more.

‘If you play with two up front that must really be the strength of your team so you must get the ball into them quicker.

‘These are the little things and it was good for us to see.

‘But the second half (with the 4-2-3-1) is what we are going to be about.

‘You could see Bennett and Roberts and the quality they possess, and when teams come onto us the likelihood is we can hurt them more.

‘If the opposition are going to defend deep in numbers we must be patient with our play and cut them up with quality.

‘Fingers crossed that system is the way forwards and it is important the lads from the first half don’t feel left out because, as you will see next week, in the games we will integrate players differently.

‘We haven’t really touched the water with any type of shape yet.

‘Without being disrespectful, we didn’t work out anything ahead of Saturday other than throwing two teams out there and at times they looked a little bit like that.

‘But you can guarantee the supporters that going forward there will be more tactical play introduced into our training rather than physical work.’

Pompey featured triallists Ben Davies, Connor Randall, Gareth Evans, Theo Robinson, Ben Tollitt and Callum Hassan in their 25-man squad at the weekend.

Yet it was some of his permanent signings which delighted Cook.

He added: ‘Obviously players like Gary and Kyle have been brought here to play, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work that out.

‘Certainly the team around them have plenty of places and positions to work out.

‘You can see the qualities Gary has and the save from his first shot was top drawer, what a good way that would have been to start.’