Roberts admits nerves in bid to restore Pompey fans’ belief

Gary Roberts celebrates scoring his and Pompey's first goal from the penalty spot in the Blues' 2-0 win over Colchester on Saturday   Picture: Joe Pepler
Gary Roberts celebrates scoring his and Pompey's first goal from the penalty spot in the Blues' 2-0 win over Colchester on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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It was a pressure situation which saw even the unflappable Gary Roberts struck by spot-kick nerves.

Now the midfielder is hoping victory has restored the Fratton faithful’s belief in Pompey’s promotion credentials.

There never used to be a league table until after five games and people are a bit jumpy at the minute

Gary Roberts

It appeared the Blues were heading for another frustrating result as they struggled to find a way past Colchester United on Saturday.

That was until 10 minutes from time when Roberts was bundled over in the box by substitute Drey Wright.

Pompey’s regular penalty taker stepped up to finish past Sam Walker, before netting a second from Conor Chaplin’s pass four minutes later.

It represented a first win following a disappointing start to the League Two campaign, a run which has attracted strong criticism from some supporters.

And Roberts admitted the players were also sensing fans’ discontent.

He said: ‘I was nervous for that penalty, I don’t know why, I haven’t had a goal this season, just a couple of half chances, but as a team we also needed that.

‘It was an important win, more so for the fans because we remain confident in ourselves and the manager also hasn’t lost any belief in us. He has told us to “Play your game and the goals will come”.

‘You feel the fans are a little bit tense at the moment but they stuck with us on Saturday and to get that first goal for them meant a lot to me.

‘We know once we get the first goal it is basically game over, although the keeper looked about 9ft, he had grown by the time I put the ball on the spot!

‘I did a little bit with the keeper coach (John Keeley) and he dives a bit early, so I went down the middle because I knew he was going to dive, but he has those long legs. It was real heart in the mouth!

‘There never used to be a league table until after five games and people are a bit jumpy at the minute.

‘It’s a bit mad for them to lose a bit of belief after only three previous games, I don’t think there have been many bad performances.

‘Crewe was a little bit stale for both teams and there were two keepers made man of the match. Some people have lost belief, we haven’t.

‘We are a big club in this division and I think we’ll get promoted. We have a good bunch here and, while I know it is early to say, I think we have enough in the dressing room to tick us over.’

It was the introduction of Conor Chaplin and Noel Hunt in the 62nd minute which changed the pattern of the match.

Switching initially to a diamond with two up front, Chaplin’s brilliant first-time pass set Roberts free to grab the second and seal an important victory.

He added: ‘It was a terrific ball from Conor and a great spot from him, I am rapid over the first two yards!

‘The keeper came and then stopped.

‘I was expecting to get flattened by him and managed to get a toe over him.

‘I made sure I followed it in – with my luck I thought it was going to hit the bar and go over.

‘To see it go in was relief more than anything and the celebration showed that.’