Jordan Cross takes a look back at Pompey’s win against Newport on Saturday and assesses the key talking points...
David Forde’s had his critics at Pompey this season.
But in the week he was named in League Two’s team of the year, he showed his worth to his team.
Quite simply, the Blues wouldn’t have picked up victory without Forde.
Two saves from Marlon Jackson during the game’s last quarter were out of the top drawer.
First, the Republic of Ireland international went full length to his left to keep out the forward’s shot which was arcing beyond him into the top corner of the net.
Then came an even more important stop after Alex Samuel had pulled a goal back.
There was a touch of the Schmeichels to the manner in which he spread himself semi-star-shaped to deny Jackson again.
The manner in which the 37-year-old was in the player’s face and forcing the issue was key to winning the duel.
A big reason for Forde’s loan signing was his stature, after a campaign in which Pompey had struggled with high balls into the box.
How he alleviated late pressure as Newport charged the goal from a corner underlined his strength there.
Keeper’s can win games as well as goalscorers – and this was a case in point.
Attack, attack, attack
Pompey’s attacking trio have stuttered at times in recent months.
You can get away with one of the men charged with carving up defences in Paul Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation not performing.
If two or three of them don’t come to the party, though, you’ll be in trouble in terms of creativity.
Fortunately, all three performed against Newport County.
Kal Naismith’s 10th goal of the season cemented his place at the head of the Blues’ goal charts.
That capped a performance which was full of the swagger and trickery which now radiates from the Scot’s game.
Likewise, Kyle Bennett’s goal continues his end-of-season resurgence.
Four strikes in as many appearances is unsurpassed form for the 26-year-old in terms of finishing.
There was so much to admire about Pompey’s opener three minutes before the break.
From the quality of Carl Baker’s ball which took two defenders out of the equation, the timing of Bennett’s run, to the manner in which he confidently finished before keeper Joe Day was set.
All of Pompey’s attacking triumvirate stepped up – and that was key to their team’s success.
How do we get there?
We don’t care
Paul Cook summed up the feeling perfectly.
‘The fans had been singing quite buoyantly, enjoying their Saturday afternoon in the sun.
‘Then you could feel the anxiety all a sudden.’
The late afternoon chill which descend on Fratton Park could be felt as Alex Samuel headed Newport County back into the game with 14 minutes left.
Until that point it had been as comfortable a performance from the Blues as you’d wish to see.
Without really firing on all cylinders, a two-goal advantage had been assumed and the points appeared to be in the bag.
When do things ever go smoothly on Planet Pompey, though?
So a struggling side were given the chance to allow confidence to creep back into their game.
In the end, substitute Jack Whatmough was sent on to add strength to the defence, and Cook’s side were indebted to Forde for his stops.
The Blues boss was keen to reference the song which has become the theme to his side’s promotion push afterwards.
How do we get there? We don’t care. That seemed apt on a day Pompey did enough to get the job done.