Alan Knight: Training ground work paid off for Pompey
I can assure Pompey fans the team worked extremely hard on the training ground last week on their defensive frailties.
And didn’t those extra sessions bear fruit at Cambridge United on Saturday.
Fingers had been pointed and criticism fired following recent defensive displays, particularly against Notts County in a game Pompey should not have lost.
So all credit to Christian Burgess, who produced a fantastic Abbey Stadium performance, his partner Matt Clarke and the rest of the team.
I saw for myself the endeavour on the training ground to tighten up at the back in the build-up.
There were sessions to replicate defensive scenarios, with the ball put into the box and heads and boots getting in the way.
It was exactly what we did in the old days to sort out defensive issues – and paid dividends with that 1-0 victory at Cambridge.
Mind you, they could not have anticipated being reduced to 10-men for the final 29 minutes following Amine Linganzi’s dismissal.
Yet a team effort ensured they coped and every single one of the boys deserves praise for putting that shift in to ensure all three points came to Fratton Park.
David Forde did not have a save to make and commanded his area superbly.
At one point he had a set-to with Burgess, which spoke volumes over how much it mattered out there and demonstrated the fire in their bellies.
Noel Hunt also caught my eye, working his socks off after appearing as a substitute, giving everything.
I felt for Linganzi, it wasn’t a malicious tackle but the red card was only right.
That would not have been a sending off 15-20 years ago and, although he got the ball, it can be said he was not in control of the challenge and his studs were showing.
Early last month, Matt Taylor was sent off for Northampton at Scunthorpe in similar circumstances.
We all know Matty wouldn’t set out to injure an opponent, but unfortunately those type of tackles look nastier than they are. By the letter of the law you have to go.
Still, along with Michael Doyle’s suspension, that opens the door for Danny Rose and Ben Close to come in to play against Wycombe.