Barker delighted to see hard work paying off for Pompey

Richie Barker feels Pompey are reaping the rewards. Picture: Joe Pepler
Richie Barker feels Pompey are reaping the rewards. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke celebrates his goal at MK Dons. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Richie Barker believes Pompey are now reaping the rewards of his bid to drive up fitness levels.

The Blues impressively maintained a high-tempo pressing game throughout the duration of last night’s trip to league leaders Chesterfield.

They secured a goalless draw, but the visitors could have emerged with a thoroughly-deserved victory.

In the past this season, Pompey have been criticised for falling away late in games and producing sub-standard second-half displays.

It’s a fitness issue Barker has focused on addressing since his arrival as manager in December.

And he is convinced last night’s Proact Stadium showing highlights the difference he has brought to the side.

He said: ‘The energy levels were great. You are talking about a team that when I first came here, everybody said they faded towards the end and the second-half performances, and all that sort of stuff.

‘Well, we didn’t see any of that last night.

‘We were looking to make changes in the second half from the bench but they were all okay to continue.

‘Obviously, we have upped the work ethic in training, we have changed the way they train, we have asked them to do more, we have been more demanding of them – and they have taken it on board.

‘We have just brought in a different intensity to training and I think you can see that and see what they have done.

‘That is not the team that everybody said when I first came in, they usually fade in the second half. I think we are seeing a different one.

‘Chesterfield are an extremely fit team, very mobile, and even I was amazed a little bit that we kept it up for that amount of time without any changes.

‘If players needed to come off I would have brought them off, but I didn’t need to.’

The point at Chesterfield lifted Pompey up four places.

They now sit in 15th spot. two points off 12th position heading into Saturday’s home clash with Cheltenham.

Also, they are seven points clear of Northampton, who sit second from bottom.