Pompey defender eyes Doncaster revenge

Matt Clarke trudges away as Doncaster fans celebrate victory at Fratton Park in October. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke trudges away as Doncaster fans celebrate victory at Fratton Park in October. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Matt Clarke eyed revenge at Doncaster and admitted: We owe them one.

The fourth-placed Blues take on League Two’s leaders in front of the Sky TV cameras at the Keepmoat Stadium tonight (7.45pm).

They beat us at our place and I think we owe them one

Pompey defender Matt Clarke

And they are eager to avenge the defeat suffered to Donny on home soil.

That 2-1 October loss coincided with Clarke’s first league outing for Pompey this term, after he was hampered by a groin injury at the start of the season.

But having that day fallen short of the high standards he has since shown on a consistent basis, the centre-back is determined to make amends.

He said: ‘I had a bit of a hard start to the season.

‘I came into the team for the game against Doncaster and don’t think I played particularly well. Neither did the team – they beat us at our place and I think we owe them one.

‘The result will take care of itself but we certainly owe Doncaster a performance.

‘They’ll come out and play and feel they are better than us.

‘But we have to show what we can do and why we believe we should be at the top.’

Clarke admits the fact tonight’s fixture is televised adds an extra significance to the clash.

But the 20-year-old was quick to dismiss suggestions the additional media attention could prove a distraction.

He said: ‘Having the Sky cameras there does add to the game but once the whistle goes and you are playing, you soon forget about it. It goes to the back of your head and you just concentrate on the game.

‘And it’s a game we are all looking forward to.

‘It’s sometimes refreshing playing in the so-called big games in this league.

‘We can play certain teams and the feeling is subdued.

‘But against Doncaster we know what we are coming up against and we are looking forward to the challenge.

‘I think it will be similar to the Luton game in that we need to start well and get on top.

‘Then, hopefully, the game will take care of itself.

‘We don’t want to start poorly and go one or two-nil down and leave ourselves with a mountain to climb.’

Clarke is now part of a settled back-line for a Blues side that has kept three clean sheets in its last four games.

Paul Cook’s side now boast the joint-best defensive record in League Two – alongside Luton – and Clarke is proud of that statistic.

He added: ‘As a defensive unit, we are working well and all doing our jobs.

‘That comes with having a settled back four, keeper and midfield pairing.

‘We are reaping the rewards of the continuity shown and keeping clean sheets.

‘It’s nice to have the best defensive record and we will keep plugging away at that.

‘But it doesn’t matter to me if we concede one or two goals in a game as long as we get the three points, that’s the most important thing.’