Teenage Kicks: Roberts proving his Pompey worth

Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gary Roberts. Picture: Joe Pepler

Nicke Kabamba in action for Pompey against Cambridge. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 2 Cambridge 1: Picture gallery

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Gary Roberts is proving why Paul Cook brought him to Pompey from Chesterfield.

There is no doubt the attacking midfielder was the marquee signing last summer – and by his own admission, he fell below his standards during the campaign.

However, this time around Roberts has had an injury free pre-season and it could make all the difference.

A fully-fit Robbo looks to me like a better player.

Maybe more like the one who won the 2013-14 League Two player-of-the-year title.

This could be down to a change of tactics as well.

The increased tempo and sharpness around the final third of the pitch has exposed the natural talent Roberts possesses.

For example, the vision to pick out Conor Chaplin for Pompey’s third goal against Wycombe.

The addition of another seasoned pro in Carl Baker has also seen the weight taken off of Roberts’ shoulders, in my opinion.

Too many times last season the buck stopped with the star man but no player can deliver every time.

Glimpses of Roberts’ importance were always a reminder of his worth.

One moment that springs to mind was his superb finish at Yeovil, which snatched Pompey a point when they least deserved it.

Another example of this came last August, when he reduced the three-goal deficit against Morecambe down to one.

It was a one-man mission at times.

And I expect we could see more frequent moments of individual and collective inspiration from the mercurial talent.

And that could prove to be the difference between a play-off place and a slot in the top three.

Five goals in his past four games have helped Pompey gain some much-needed momentum in performance and points.

Let’s not forget the bottle he has shown to tuck away several penalties with apparent ease.

Roberts will prove his worth and justify the three-year contract he signed last summer.

He is a classy player at this level and will show it this season.

Regarding the team as a whole, it is evident there has been a slight change in mentality.

In my opinion, last season we concentrated on what the opposition were going to do and perhaps did not focus on ourselves enough.

But that was not the case against Wycombe last Saturday.

There was a belief among the Pompey ranks they would find a way through the stubborn Chairboys back-line to win the game.

By putting the ball into the box more frequently, it was only a matter of time before Wycombe buckled.

It does make you wonder how many goalless draws could have been converted into wins if we had that mentality last season.

With the hoodoo of the lack of three successive wins off their backs, hopefully we can cheer Pompey on to an telling run of form and send out a real statement to the rest of League Two.

Ben Sturt is a 17-year-old season-ticket holder.

He is also the youngest member of the Pompey Supporters’ Trust’s Next Generations group, which tackles all issues that may concern younger Pompey fans.

Every week in the Sports Mail, he describes the goings on at the Blues through the eyes of a younger supporter.

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