Impressive Pompey could have hit four

Steve Cotterill barks out orders from the touchline as classy Pompey see off Palace
Steve Cotterill barks out orders from the touchline as classy Pompey see off Palace
Joe Hancott was 16 years and 161 days when he made his Pompey debut in the Checkatrade Trophy against Fulham Under-21s on Wednesday night Picture: Joe Pepler

From Pompey apprentice to record holder - in seven weeks

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Steve Cotterill felt a revenge demolition was on the cards against Crystal Palace.

The Blues boss reckons the performance of his men last night warranted a greater return than just a single-goal victory.

David Nugent’s effort at Fratton Park proved enough to seal their third win on the bounce.

But it could easily have been more as the Blues produced one of their most dominant performances of the campaign.

Cotterill’s men were beaten 4-1 at Selhurst Park last September on a night when it all went right for the Eagles.

A similar scoreline in Pompey’s favour wouldn’t have looked out of place last night as the home side controlled possession and territory for long periods.

Cotterill was delighted with much of the football produced as the Londoners were penned back.

He feels that the recent wins have released the shackles from his men to play with greater freedom.

Cotterill said: ‘We were very good, especially in the first half

‘But we had to cut them and score the goal rather than bruise them to death.

‘So we were pleased when the goal came.

‘Apart from some good defending from them, we could have won by three or four.

‘They are a difficult team to play who have been on a good run.

‘Dougie Freedman’s settled them down and they look like they’ve got a good spirit among them. I wouldn’t see them going down.

‘We don’t want to get lairy and confident but we were the better team. Some of the passing was great.

‘We’ve had a couple of wins and all of a sudden that’s allowed us that freedom.

‘Then that passing ability we have got came back to us.

‘It was enjoyable watching them. They played with enthusiasm, commitment and a smile on their faces.

‘When they play like that, that’s how well they can do. It was good football.

‘In the first half, (James) Vaughan was isolated and we knew if we could stop his runs and bite that ball first we could almost play 2-4-4.

‘In the first half that’s how it was. We were right on the front foot, so we were pleased.’

The night was overflowing with positives for Pompey which Cotterill was quick to highlight.

But he did admit the impact of the squad’s loan juggling was one drawback as it kicked in for the first time.

Jonathan Hogg came back into the equation after his ban against Barnsley.

With only five loan players allowed in the match-day squad, Ibrahima Sonko missed out and Cotterill could name only five substitutes.

The Pompey boss stressed there can be no repeat of such a situation moving forward.

He said: ‘I had to tell Sonko he couldn’t be involved in the 16.

‘He’s been with us all season.

‘I don’t want to put a blemish on the night but that’s the bad situation we are in.

‘For any club to have five loan players is not ideal.

‘We can’t afford that situation again because we will not get away with it.

‘It’s okay for rehabilitation for a year and the club coming out of intensive care.

‘But now we have to push on again next year.’