Pompey 5 Barnet 1: Three Things We Learnt

Gary Roberts in Saturday's win over Barnet Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts in Saturday's win over Barnet Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin in action against Northampton. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s Checkatrade kick-off time rescheduled

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JORDAN CROSS looks back at the 5-1 victory against Barnet to see what we learnt from the game...

POMPEY have Gary Roberts, as the song in his honour goes.

And we certainly understand that when he’s in the form he produced on Saturday he’s untouchable at this level.

Paul Cook lauded the impact of a ‘special’ talent in the wake of a virtuoso display against Barnet.

Roberts scored one, created two, missed a penalty and could’ve had a hand in other goals in a rampant performance.

The quality of his assist for Pompey’s leveller from Conor Chaplin was worth the admission fee on its own.

The 32-year-old battled to win possession and then produced a delightful no-look blindside pass into Chaplin’s path with the back of his heel.

Chaplin, of course, did what he does best and finished with unerring conviction past Josh Vickers.

And it’s heartening to see the way Roberts struck up an instinctive partnership with the teenager on his first start of the season.

Then came his sixth goal of the season - and the manner in which he left Michael Nelson with twisted blood before finishing with the outside of his left boot quite rightly earned goal-of-the-day plaudits.

When Roberts is in this mood there’s no getting near him. He becomes unplayable in his current surroundings.

After the game, Cook spoke of how Pompey fans have feasted on the creative genius of the likes of Paul Merson and Teddy Sheringham in recent years.

It’s not hyperbole to place the impact of Roberts in a similar sphere for Pompey at League Two level.

REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL

PAUL COOK acknowledged he’d never seen Fratton Park quite so buoyant.

The Pompey boss posed for pictures, signed autographs and noted the mood among fans was on a high after romping to victory over Barnet.

The quality of the attacking performance had much to do it. Likewise, the fact fans were treated to an entertaining spectacle from start to finish.

And, of course, there was the fact Conor Chaplin started his first game of the season.

The clamour to see Chaplin play up front has grown more and more vociferous in recent weeks.

Paul Cook has the strength of his convictions when it comes to his striking options, and has bided his time over the 19-year-old’s inclusion.

Chaplin, though, has shown now that he can fit into Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

Much of that owes to his relationship with Gary Roberts, with there clearly an intuitive partnership between the pair.

That was most clearly seen with the manner in which Roberts delightfully fed the Academy graduate for his goal - finished with typical conviction.

The willingness of Pompey’s players to get beyond Chaplin - missing at Accrington - also proved key to the success.

With Cook’s side unbeaten at home this season Fortress Fratton is back - and a happy place to be.

POMPEY’S BOUNCEBACKABILITY

WE’VE seen the bus parked in front of the Fratton End on numerous occasions.

Well, no one could accuse Barnet of that as they came to pick up three points.

It’s just when sides attempt to fight fire with fire against Paul Cook’s side on their own patch there’s only one outcome.

That’s something Crawley recently found out - and it was the same for Martin Allen’s men after initially standing toe to toe with Pompey.

Allen’s side produced the kind of high press early on often seen from Cook’s side - while Pompey were clearly trying to get the ball forward quickly.

Tom Davies’ handball gave John Akinde the chance to put Barnet in front, which he just about took with his penalty slipped under David Forde’s dive to his right.

So, for the second successive home game, Pompey had to come from behind to snare the three points.

That they did and was a theme Cook was keen to return to after the game.

It also saw his side quickly respond to the Accrington loss with a maximum.

Last season saw too many draws hurt Pompey’s chances of success.

The challenge after bouncing back from defeat is to build another winning run to cement a promising start.