Stevens: Pompey’s improvement on last season

Enda Stevens celebrates his goal against Newport on Boxing Day Picture: Joe Pepler
Enda Stevens celebrates his goal against Newport on Boxing Day Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin could start againsyt Plymouth. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey v Plymouth: pre-match talking points

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Enda Stevens is adamant the gutsy Rodney Parade fightback demonstrates a more resilient Pompey.

And the defender is convinced it is a trait last season’s side didn’t possess.

We dug deep and kept going. I’m not so sure we had that last season

Enda Stevens

On Boxing Day the Blues found themselves 2-0 down after 56 minutes at Newport County, who sit bottom of League Two.

However, a stirring response from the visitors culminated in Kal Naismith sealing a 3-2 victory three minutes from time.

Danny Rose and a first Pompey goal for Stevens also contributed to a remarkable transformation.

A Blues team with promotion aspirations would have been expected to see off the struggling Exiles.

As it was, the manner of that eventual triumph impressed their left-back.

Stevens said: ‘We were unlucky to be two goals down after being on top, it was a kick in the teeth.

‘But we thought “we can still do this, we can win the game”, we never lost that belief.

‘To me, going on to win that game from that situation shows an improvement on last year. I am not too sure we would have done that last season.

‘It gives us a lot of confidence and we have to kick on from that, go to Yeovil and put another three points on the board to get the run everyone is talking about and the consistency going.

‘We now have that aggression to dig in deep and the knowledge that football is not going to win you every game in this league.

‘We knew what their pitch was going to be like and were well prepared. There were not going to be excuses from our end.

‘It was tough, but we have that bit of fight in us which can get results.

‘We dug deep and kept going. I’m not so sure we had that last season.’

Another improvement on last season is the form of Naismith.

The winger was handed his first league start since the beginning of October for the trip to struggling Newport.

Naismith may have missed a 62nd-minute penalty, but it was his late free-kick which sealed victory.

And Stevens believes the Scot has also added more to the current Pompey set-up.

He added: ‘Kal has learnt a lot, you can see his positioning has improved compared to last season.

‘He’s always had the ability, it’s just how to play the gaffer’s way.

‘The problem with Kal is he got injured in pre-season when he arrived and was out for a long spell, but he’s worked hard and is reaping the rewards of that.

‘He’s got that aura about him where he can make things happen, he can spark that moment of magic, which he did against Newport.

‘A lot of players would have gone under when he missed that penalty, but he didn’t, he worked hard and kept his chin up.’