Pompey told to embrace promotion heat

Danny Hollands. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Hollands. Picture: Joe Pepler
Stuart O'Keefe. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey midfielder will relish facing former club

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Danny Hollands believes Pompey can embrace end-of-season pressure with freedom to fire their promotion ambitions.

The Blues midfielder feels his side are responding to being in the last-chance saloon in their bid to make the top three in League Two by playing with a smile.

Paul Cook’s team picked up a vital 1-0 win over Carlisle on Saturday to close the distance on the automatic berths.

The gap is now five points with seven games to go – with Pompey having a game in hand over their rivals.

The campaign is building to a dramatic crescendo with impetus slowly gathering.

Hollands knows there is little room for manoeuvre, however, and the challenge is to produce the winning run which has eluded his side.

He said: ‘It’s going to be an exciting end to the season.

‘This is the last chance for us to really try to get in the automatic places.

‘We have to enjoy it. When you enjoy it your best football comes out.

‘I feel we have enough in the squad to get the points we need.

‘Putting a couple of wins together is good but it means nothing if we don’t go on a run.

‘We have to believe. We have to believe we can do it.

‘We feel there is enough in this squad to win games.

‘Sometimes you have to win games ugly. We have to find a way.

‘We have to pick up more points than the teams around us and we have to do that by winning games. They aren’t going to give up points easily.

‘This is last chance now really.

‘If you win seven out of seven you’d be unlucky not to go up. We can’t afford to drop many points.

‘We haven’t always deserved to get results this season.

‘But we’re sticking to our guns and are really trying to make the most of it now.

‘Hopefully we can put the points on the board to push forward.’

Pompey had 20 shots on goal to Carlisle’s eight but were relieved to see a late gilt-edged chance for Hallam Hope passed up.

Hollands knew seeing that go in would have hurt and there are areas for improvement – but they can be focused on as attentions turn to Dagenham & Redbridge next Saturday.

He said: ‘If we had drawn or lost we’d be beating ourselves up. It would have been demoralising.

‘There are things to brush up on but we need to go again.

‘It’s two good results but at this stage of the season I don’t think you can really worry about form.

‘It’s more a case of who wants it on the day because top can beat bottom.

‘The results on Saturday show that. You would have had a job picking a winning accumulator!

‘If you win a couple of games belief can grow.

‘But now it’s about one at a time – and the next obstacle is Dagenham.’