Pompey skipper calls for patience

Brian Howard, centre, runs back to the halfway line after Swindon keeper Wes Foderingham is beaten late on by Lubomir Michalik   Picture: Steve Reid
Brian Howard, centre, runs back to the halfway line after Swindon keeper Wes Foderingham is beaten late on by Lubomir Michalik Picture: Steve Reid
Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey pair scrap it out for centre-half spot

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Brian Howard asked for patience as he assessed the damage from yet another home defeat for Pompey.

The Blues skipper cut a frustrated figure in the aftermath of last night’s 2-1 home loss to Swindon Town – Pompey’s third defeat in four League One home fixtures so far this season.

Former Pompey winger Matt Ritchie opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time, before Swindon doubled their lead early in the second period through Andy Williams.

While debutant Lubomir Michalik pulled one back late on with a header, the Blues were unable to rescue the game as they crashed to a second home reverse in four days.

But Howard pointed to the fact that boss Michael Appleton has effectively thrown together a brand new side in a matter of weeks as an explanation for the disappointing results that have left Pompey at the wrong end of the League One table.

And the former Reading man is convinced the tide will soon turn.

Howard said: ‘We all knew it would be a very difficult start with so many new players coming together.

‘I’m not sure how you can expect a brand new team to just come together straight away.

‘The gaffer is a good coach and a good manager but he’s not a magician.

‘We are still bedding in but we need to click more quickly than we are at the moment. We need to put this right.

‘We’ve got a lot of games coming up in a short period of time and if we can stick together for the next couple of weeks, I’m sure we can really kick on with a run.

‘It would be easy to start pointing fingers at each other but that will not help anyone.

‘But I’m hoping that the last 15-20 minutes against Swindon is a bit of encouragement and people are thinking “hang on a minute, there are some good players here and if we stop giving away stupid goals, we’ve got a chance”.

‘There are spells in games where I think we can all see that it is coming.

‘But it’s not for long enough and we need to start turning those 10-15 minute spells into 30-40 minutes and then 90 minutes. Once it clicks, we will be fine. But everyone just needs to be a bit more patient with it and a bit more positive.

‘We just need to stick in there at the moment.

‘Mind you, it’s easier said than done to be patient when results are going against you.’

Pompey adopted a new formation last night, with Izale McLeod operating as a lone striker in a 4-2-3-1 system. But Swindon should have been out of sight by half-time as goalkeeper Mikkel Andersen kept the Blues in the hunt with an inspired display.

Appleton’s men kept battling, though, to give themselves hope of an unlikely recovery.

And Howard suggested they could even have snatched a point with their late rally.

He said: ‘Maybe we could have got something out of the game. But we can’t be hoping to get results when we gift teams 2-0 leads.

‘We’re giving away silly goals at the moment and they are really killing us.

‘Both the goals were mistakes again and it’s something we’ve got to sort out.

‘It’s schoolboy defending, really.’