Guy’s delight – despite first-half criticism

Danny East made a good first impression after coming on in the second half at Westleigh Park
Danny East made a good first impression after coming on in the second half at Westleigh Park
Pompey's Brett Pitman scores a penalty in the Blues' 1-1 draw against Walsall at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler/Digital South.

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A 5-0 victory in the opening friendly match of pre-season for a transformed squad.

But Guy Whittingham was critical of Pompey’s first-half display against the Hawks last night.

The Blues triumphed at Westleigh Park to get their summer off to an impressive start.

They headed in to the break 2-0 up, following a brace from triallist Ryan Bird.

It was a very different Pompey side that returned after the interval, with 11 changes made.

But the turnaround didn’t stop the goals from flowing, with Romain Padovani, Andy Barcham and a Ryan Woodford own goal sealing a 5-0 win.

Whittingham, though, was unhappy with his team’s performance in that opening 45 minutes.

He said: ‘I think the players saw from the first half, if we were a bit braver on the ball we could do a bit better.

‘That was the only criticism I had last night, really.

‘It was a great exercise for us. Havant looked after us great, the pitch was fantastic and it was a competitive game.

‘The only criticism I would have, if any, was in the first half we probably didn’t use the ball enough and I think the players sat up in the stand saw that and did it better.

‘We allowed them a bit too much possession, but when we got possession we probably went forward a little too early, which is partly my fault.

‘That was what I wanted to do. Not by booming it but by playing the ball forward into the strikers.

‘We probably needed to have a couple of passes in us before we did that.’

The scoreline aside, there were plenty of plus points for Pompey – not least Bird.

The striker grabbed two and struck the inside of the post during an impressive first half.

Sonny Bradley also caught the eye in that period, while Danny East, Romain Padovani and Dan Butler all did well after the break.

Just as crucial, there were no injuries for the Blues from their first run-out of the summer.

And they will now head to Bognor on Saturday (2pm) in good shape for their next pre-season test.

Whittingham added: ‘We don’t put the same importance into these results as other people looking at it.

‘The coaching staff and the people at the football club know the importance of a pre-season is for people to get a foot hold and get used to the size of the pitch again.

‘As well as that, it is crucial everybody comes through unscathed with no injuries.

‘So from that point of view, last night was great on a few aspects.’