Ward hails Pompey game plan

Joel Ward forces Angel Rangel into a mistake
Joel Ward forces Angel Rangel into a mistake
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis limps off injured against Rochdale. Picture: Joe Pepler

Injured Holmes-Dennis pays tribute to Pompey

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Stifled, smothered and strangled of their trademark creativity.

Joel Ward believes determined Pompey refused to allow Swansea the freedom to play their natural game on Saturday.

And the subsequent point for the hosts was fully deserved.

Steve Cotterill’s men ended a run of two successive 3-0 defeats by securing a goalless draw against the Swans.

Had Aaron Mokoena netted a header in the third minute for what proved to be the game’s best chance from either side, the outcome would have been different.

As it was, Pompey had to settle for a moral victory with a much-improved display.

Swansea were distinctly second best for long spells, even if it proved to be a game of few goal-scoring opportunities.

And Ward insists it was down to the Blues’ game plan and work-rate.

He said: ‘Swansea are a tough side and I think we did well.

‘We played well, shut down their options in most areas of the pitch and closed down well.

‘We pressed them high up the pitch and managed to get the ball back.

‘When we went there earlier in the season we played well and were disciplined.

‘They are probably one of the best passing sides in the league.

‘So on Saturday we made sure we stayed compact, stayed tight and forced them into making mistakes to get them frustrated.

‘I would say that worked.

‘You have got to stay disciplined and I thought we stuck well together, went as a unit and went as a pack.

‘It wasn’t the best of games at Cardiff last weekend but we’ve come back to Fratton Park, it’s like a fortress and the fans do help us out.

‘Credit to them, they have stuck by us through thick and thin over the years as well and we want to make sure we are strong, push forward and do the best we can do.’

Pompey visit Burnley tomorrow for the first of their final three matches.

Once again there is little at stake for Cotterill’s men, although the Clarets do still retain an interest in the play-offs.

Regardless, for Ward it will be a reunion with the manager who took him to Bournemouth on a loan spell for the 2008-09 campaign.

Eddie Howe has since made the switch to Burnley, replacing Brian Laws.

And Ward is eyeing another good display as Pompey aim to finish the campaign in decent form.

He added: ‘We will go there all guns blazing and make sure we fight, dig down deep and get what we need.

‘It will be a tough game but hopefully we can go there and show our desire and effort levels and push on.

‘It has been a tough couple of days but we will go and do our best.

‘I have played under Eddie as well and know what he is about and what his sides are going to do, which is getting the ball down and playing.

‘We want to make sure we push them back, close them and work hard as a team and a unit and hopefully we will be alright.’