Leam Richardson: Risk pays off for Pompey

Conor Chaplin and assistant boss Leam Richardson, left. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin and assistant boss Leam Richardson, left. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey manager Kenny Jackett Picture: Joe Pepler

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Under pressure at the home of the league leaders in the closing minutes, Pompey might have been forgiven for settling for a point.

Not a bit of it.

We are never defensively-minded. We want to have a game of football

Leam Richardson

With Northampton Town looking dangerous from a flurry of late corners, it looked a risky decision from Paul Cook when Conor Chaplin was thrown on as a late substitute – especially as Pompey were preparing to defend another set-piece.

It certainly went against the manager’s handbook of when to make a substitution.

But 30 seconds later, Ben Tollitt’s energy had created the opening and the teenager had sealed a significant three points for Pompey.

Fortune favours the brave and all that.

Few would have complained if Adam Barton had been sent on to see the game out and the Blues had chalked up another point to the tally.

But Tollitt and Adam McGurk had already entered the fray before Chaplin’s arrival to underline the attacking intent.

And assistant boss Leam Richardson believes Pompey have a duty to go for victories and entertain their fans.

Richardson said: ‘The gaffer (Cook) is never keen on anything other than the players expressing themselves and showing energy to give everything for the fans.

‘If you sit back and go negative, it goes against everything he believes in.

‘He put an attacking wide player on in Ben Tollitt, he put Conor Chaplin on and another forward on in Adam McGurk.

‘It shows his intentions and his belief in the squad. They all went on and delivered.

‘Maybe some people might have expected us to be happy with a point at that stage in the game.

‘But we are never defensively-minded. We want to have a game of football.

‘It’s expensive to go and watch a game of football nowadays, especially when people are bringing their kids.

‘They should be able to come and enjoy the day, rather than seeing teams getting men behind the ball.

‘That’s always in our mind. My dad used to take me to football and he reminds me all the time how much it used to cost him!

‘You get off the coach and you see fans with two or three children.

‘They have to travel up, they have to buy programmes, drinks and sweets.

‘It gets up to £150 before you even blink.

‘We all have to be aware of that. At the top end of football, they might lose a bit of sight of that.’

There is always a fine line when 
a manager takes that sort of 
gamble.

Opinions might have been rather different if Pompey had conceded a goal from that late corner.

But it’s a refreshing outlook when a manager is prepared to risk losing a game in search of a winner and it paid off handsomely. Tollitt’s pace added an extra dimension on the counter-attack, while Chaplin looks increasingly like a prospect who is destined for big things.

It won’t always come off but Cook and his coaching staff deserve the plaudits for sticking to their principles and for having the courage of their convictions.