Danny Hollands: Pompey can mix it
Danny Hollands praised Pompey's battling 1-0 win at play-off rivals AFC Wimbledon and insisted: We can mix it with other teams.
The Blues made mathematically sure of their place in the four-way fight for a spot in League One last night, with Michael Smith returning to haunt his former employers with the game’s only goal.
He will play no part for Paul Cook’s sixth-placed side in the end-of-season shootout, with his 93-day loan from Swindon Town expiring before the play-offs.
Pompey, however, will be boosted by the manner in which they defeated a potential opponent.
One criticism levelled at the Blues this season has been their perceived failure to rise to a physical challenge.
But Hollands was pleased to prove a point in the gutsy victory against the seventh-placed Dons.
He said: ‘It was a battle. At times this season people have thought we haven’t been able to stand up when it is a physical battle.
‘But we showed we can mix it with other teams.
‘AFC Wimbledon are probably as physical a team as we are going to face.
‘They have got some big lads – even the lads who came on for them were big, physical lads.
‘It was a really good test for us.
‘We stood up to them and did the side of the game we are probably not renowned for.’
Victory was a result of a carefully devised game plan which saw Pompey tinker with their preferred passing style in favour of a more direct approach.
And for Hollands, the only negative was a failure to win by more goals as they brought the Dons’ impressive five-game winning run to a halt.
He said: ‘We knew it was going to be a different type of game for us.
‘The pitch didn’t help, it was not really a pitch to get the ball down and play football.
‘We knew it was going to be a bit more physical and that we would have to win second balls and maybe go long earlier.
‘Once we did that we had a few chances – unfortunately for us we only took one.
‘It was disappointing not to get the second goal but we were just glad to get another three points.
‘All in all it was a pleasing performance.
‘We had a good game plan, stuck to it well and carried out instructions.’
Assured of a play-off place, Pompey are now five points behind third-placed Oxford United with two games to go.
The chances of snatching an automatic promotion are highly unlikely, although not impossible.
Hollands, however, is not looking past the Blues’ final two fixtures.
He added: ‘It’s good we are in the play-offs but we are just looking at the next two games and trying to get as many points as possible to end the season well.’