Returning defender crucial to Pompey shut out

Joe Devera, centre, gets a crucial flick-on to a ball as he defends the Pompey goal. Picture: Barry Zee
Joe Devera, centre, gets a crucial flick-on to a ball as he defends the Pompey goal. Picture: Barry Zee
Conor Chaplin and Brett Pitman. Picture: Shaun Boggust

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Guy Whittingham hailed Joe Devera’s return as a key factor in the Rochdale shut out.

Pompey kept their second league clean sheet of the campaign in the 3-0 success over Dale at Fratton Park.

Devera played a big part in that after returning from a troublesome hamstring injury.

The defender was utilised at right-back instead of his preferred central position.

He drew fulsome praise from Whittingham for his performance.

The Blues boss said: ‘I thought Joe had a fantastic game, really good.

‘We knew one of the things they did was switch from goal-kicks.

‘We felt if Joe was out there he would win the majority of the headers.

‘I felt his overall defensive performance was excellent.

‘His overall use of the ball was great as well.

‘He’s not one who is going to go flying on overlaps.

‘But he uses the ball very economically and doesn’t waste it.

‘I think he would rather play centre-half but whenever I’ve asked him to do a job there (right-back) he’s been happy to do it.’

Whittingham was pleased with the tempo his side set against a Dale side in fine form.

He said: ‘We stopped them from getting their passing game going.

‘They are dangerous if they do that. We stayed on top of them.

‘I had a little go at half-time because we had a breakaway before the break and should have scored and put the game to bed.

‘We let them off the hook a bit and we couldn’t afford to let them back into the game.

‘But we had a strong 15 minutes at the start of the second half and pushed on again.’

John Marquis was given his first start of his loan stay at Fratton Park.

The Millwall man missed chances but Whittingham liked what he saw from him.

He said: ‘John could have had a hat-trick on another day.

‘He got through in the first half and was one-on-one with the keeper in the second.

‘I’ve been in those situations. Sometimes they come off, sometimes they don’t.

‘Unfortunately they didn’t but fortunately we were 3-0 up at the time.

‘You can have too much time sometimes but John will get better and better.’

JORDAN CROSS