Pompey duo are keeping it friendly

Stephen Henderson makes a save for Pompey against Leeds
Stephen Henderson makes a save for Pompey against Leeds
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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They’ve been plunged into battle for the prize of being Pompey’s No1.

But Stephen Henderson insists his fight with Jamie Ashdown is taking place on friendly terms.

The Irishman stole a march in the duel for being first choice after he was given his league debut at Leeds on Saturday.

Ashdown paid the price for a rare off-day against Peterborough last week as he lost his spot.

That brought an ever-present league run spanning 54 games to an end, with Henderson given the nod instead.

It has now become clear there is no goalkeeping hierarchy in place in the mind of Pompey boss Steve Cotterill.

That means form looks set to decide who starts, with Henderson in the driving seat after a composed outing at Elland Road.

Vying for the goalkeeping spot provides an unusual set of circumstances for the challengers.

Henderson and Ashdown are working closely together on a daily basis with goalkeeping coach John Keeley.

That has seen a decent relationship build between the pair, despite the fact they are in direct competition.

Both men know the rules of the game, though, as they go about their contest.

Henderson, who left Bristol City to move to Fratton Park in the summer, said: ‘I’ve said before that I was coming here to play. That hasn’t changed.

‘I thought I did okay at Leeds, although I would have preferred to give the fans a result.

‘It was good to play because Jamie has been the one starting games.

‘My relationship with Jamie is really good. It’s not like we hate each other or anything.

‘If he does play I wish him the best and I’m sure he does the same for me.

‘He made a mistake for a goal last week but, listen, it happened to me against Betis two weeks ago.

‘It happens to every good goalkeeper, and I’m sure Jamie will bounce back and have me on my toes.’

Henderson’s first league outing for Pompey proved to be a bitter-sweet affair, with a competent personal performance tempered by the 1-0 defeat.

That made it a frustrating four losses in the past five as the Blues search for a run of form to get their season firing.

Henderson lifted the lid on the dressing room in the wake of Saturday’s result.

An honest exchange of words followed the defeat, with Pompey searching for the reasons for the result.

The strength of feeling among the playing and coaching staff left Henderson in no doubt about the determination to put things right.

The Irishman said: ‘We just have to dust ourselves down and push on.

‘We’ve set our aim for the play-offs.

‘I had a similar run when I was at Bristol City to the one we’re on now and we ended up getting to the play-off final.

‘It can turn so quickly and I’m sure it will for us. Anyone can beat anyone in this league and that’s what makes me sure our luck will change.

‘Everyone is similarly matched and I think we have a few games coming up we are capable of getting results from.

‘We have two weeks to refresh ourselves now and then get things going.

‘It would have been nice to go into the break with a win. But the lads want it and I can tell that from the feeling among the lads in the dressing room.

‘There were a lot of words spoken after the game on Saturday.

‘They are a passionate bunch and I know we are going to kick on soon.

‘We were devastated in the dressing room after Leeds.

‘We do care. I am telling you now – we do care.’