Matt Clarke: Pompey striker has ‘touch of class’

Marc McNulty impressed in Pompey's 1-0 win over Accrington Picture: Joe Pepler

Marc McNulty impressed in Pompey's 1-0 win over Accrington Picture: Joe Pepler

David Forde. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Matt Clarke praised the Marc McNulty factor as the striker inspired Pompey to reach the third round of the FA Cup.

Adam McGurk grabbed the only goal of Saturday’s victory over Accrington Stanley at Fratton Park.

The wind was against us in the first half and we struggled to get out, then second half it was with us

Matt Clarke

Yet it was McNulty who created the 21st minute moment, escaping down the right and providing the important cross.

The striker on loan from Sheffield United also struck the bar with a first-half header in an eye-catching all-round display.

And the recalled Clarke continues to be impressed by McNulty since his arrival last month.

He said ‘Sparky (McNulty) was so unlucky not to get a goal in the game, he did everything but score.

‘The supporters can see it and we ourselves see it every day in training, he has got a touch of class.

‘You can see how he is in the league above.

‘In training you never know what he is going to do, he can go both ways, you have to be touch tight and hope he doesn’t embarrass you in front of the lads!

‘Sparky’s sharp, he anticipates where the ball is going and by the time you are looking at it he is already there.

‘He has brought that link-up play to the team, that technical side, he knows where to take his touches and hopefully can score a few more goals.

‘He’s a very good player.’

Saturday represented Clarke’s first Pompey start since the 3-1 win at Cambridge United in October.

Since then Christian Burgess and Adam Webster have been the preferred central-defensive partnership for Paul Cook.

But the loanee from Ipswich was back in the side against Accrington for what was his FA Cup debut.

He added: ‘Accrington have been on a good run and would have fancied themselves on Saturday but we knew if we stuck to our game plan we would get the better of them.

‘At the end of the match the keeper was up there in our box but as a unit we were quite comfortable.

‘The wind was against us in the first half and we struggled to get out, then second half it was with us, you have to adapt to those conditions and play the best you can.

‘It was really bad, though, you see a goal kick taken trying to get it to the left-back and it ends up going to the right-back, it was just crazy.

‘It was windy but you have got to deal with it, it’s one of those things.

‘Accrington had a spell at the end of the first half and in any game there are going to be stages where a team gets a spell. But I thought we dug in and did really well.’

– NEIL ALLEN

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