Baker: Pompey's best display yet in Crawley triumph

For Carl Baker, it was the finest Pompey display since his summer arrival.

Monday, 5th September 2016, 9:00 am
Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler

Certainly the Blues’ energetic opening 45 minutes had effectively secured victory by half-time, courtesy of a 3-0 lead.

The final result was a third-successive League Two victory to lift Paul Cook’s men into fourth spot as they continue to turn around a shaky start.

The platform for Saturday’s victory over Crawley was based upon a high-tempo and pressing game, refusing to allow the visitors time on the ball.

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That approach carved open a two-goal lead after only 12 minutes through Curtis Main and Gary Roberts as the hassled opposition defence wilted.

Main added his second of the match on 37 minutes and for Dermot Drummy’s men there was no coming back.

And Baker was quick to laud the game plan designed by Cook which reaped the three points.

He said: ‘That was the best performance since I have been here, everything seemed to click.

‘I thought we played really well against Carlisle but the difference on Saturday was you saw the goals going in.

‘It makes a hell of a difference if you can get the ball into the net early doors.

‘All week we worked on pressing, we knew they would try to overplay a little bit at the back, that they would play one or two passes too many in defence.

‘If we could nick it in those situations then we would be able to break on them.

‘So the game plan was to press when we could and do it really high up the pitch.

‘At first we sat off them and let them play, then once we got a solid foundation and solid shape all pressed at the same time.

‘If you press individually you get can picked off, but we went at the same time and whoever in their side received the ball there was going to be an opponent within five yards closing them down.

‘It’s difficult when teams do that against us and it was good that we did.

‘Curtis’ goal gave us the belief and confidence the game plan was working so we were hoping to try to get the game won in the first half and enjoy the second half – which is what happened.’

The winning outcome against Crawley also represented a fourth clean sheet in five league matches for Pompey.

Following on from victories over Colchester and Exeter, Cook’s troops are steadily building up a head of steam.

Gareth Evans returned to the team on Saturday in place of hamstring casualty Drew Talbot, who could face a sizeable spell on the sidelines.

And Baker was impressed with the energy and endeavour of the hard-working Blues.

He added: ‘I believe we have better players in this team than any other in the league but if you don’t work hard it doesn’t count for anything.

‘So the pleasing thing for me on Saturday was not just the quality on the ball in front of goal but the work-rate from all the lads that played.

‘We have some great players here with the work-rate and hard work. The more we play together the more it will click.’