Bognor 1 Pompey 6

Ryan Taylor scores for Pompey at Bognor. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ryan Taylor scores for Pompey at Bognor. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Clarke has been named as skipper at Fleetwood tonight.

Clarke skippers youthful Pompey

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Some habits are hard to shake.

Take yourself back to the turn of the year when defeat seemed to follow defeat and Pompey goals were about as rare as rocking horse manure.

Back then, it was another dose of Pompey purgatory for fans who have certainly been through the mill over recent years.

But a new habit appears to be developing these days – a winning one.

And we’re seeing plenty of goals too.

It’s nothing new under Andy Awford, who broke that horrible habit that had shrouded the club almost overnight.

After that impressive run towards the end of the campaign to ensure survival, his task is to keep fuelling that fire when the real stuff starts against Exeter on August 9.

Momentum was built back in March through to May but it’s not always easy to continue that beyond a summer break, especially when a few new faces have arrived.

Before anyone starts getting too excited at two convincing wins in pre-season, let’s keep a sense of perspective.

Pompey should be beating the likes of Hawks and Bognor and they should be beating them well.

While the 6-1 scoreline suggested a one-sided affair, it could have been twice as many had the Blues been a bit sharper in front of goal.

That is no disservice to the Rocks who kept going in energy-sapping heat and showed a lot of guts to stick to their task.

Pompey, meanwhile, had the luxury of using 24 players – it was 26 against Hawks last week – but there was no need to risk the likes of Jack Whatmough (dead leg), Danny East (groin) and Michael Poke (ankle), who all would have been available had it been a competitive fixture.

Young Academy goalkeeper, Alex Bass, even got a taste of the action for 30 minutes in Poke’s absence.

A game in sweltering, muggy conditions is a whole lot easier if you have so many pairs of fresh legs to throw on – especially when there appears to be some healthy competition for places developing too.

Nobody was strolling around, even when the result was beyond doubt.

And that might be the most pleasing aspect of the way Pompey have approached pre-season so far for Awford.

They look a committed group of players, who are treating these games as if they are the real thing.

It’s the correct approach, even if you do end up feeling a bit sorry for non-league neighbours who are on the receiving end.

It’s tough to play matches at 50-per-cent and then suddenly flick the switch to go to full tilt when there are points up for grabs.

New midfielder James Dunne’s first-half tackle was a reminder that he certainly isn’t taking anything lightly.

He did it at the Hawks last week as well.

Two big tackles, two audible winces around the grounds and twice he has got up and gone hunting for his next victim.

We’re going to like this bloke.

There were other new boys who caught the eye.

Miles Storey showed a real turn of pace and produced a fierce finish to net his first goal in a Pompey shirt as he arrowed a shot into the far corner after he’d teased the full-back as he cut in from the right flank.

That strike made it 2-0 and was a cracking finish.

Ryan Taylor had already got himself off the mark for the pre-season schedule just two minutes before with a classy, swivelling volley that crashed high into the net.

Taylor, the club’s new number nine, should have had a hat-trick before he was replaced at the break.

After taking the hardest of his three chances, he then missed two absolute sitters.

Still, his volley was far more memorable than those two relative tap-ins would have been.

With Pompey in cruise control, Bognor had the audacity to pull a goal back.

Charlie Oatway played a measured throughball for Alex Parsons to race away one-on-one with Paul Jones.

He rounded the keeper with ease before sliding into an empty net.

If it was Pompey’s first-choice central defensive pairing, it’s unlikely there would have been quite so much space.

But Danny Hollands was asked to fill in alongside Ben Chorley, presumably to allow Johnny Ertl a half in his favoured midfield role.

Hollands, who had already played a part in Taylor’s goal by keeping a corner alive at the far post, then lashed home another excellent finish after a loose ball fell invitingly at his feet following Ricky Holmes’ blocked free-kick.

That strike, bang on half-time, confirmed a 3-1 interval lead and the only question left to answer was how many more the second half would bring.

With eight substitutes eager to make their own impression, three more excellent chances went begging before Pompey made it 4-1.

Nigel Atangana steered wide from six yards out.

And Bradley Tarbuck failed to take two good opportunities before he slotted home after Jack Maloney had put him through.

On the evidence of these two games with the first-team group, Tarbuck certainly looks like he’s got something about him and he took his goal well.

Andy Barcham poached a fifth at the far post to ensure Jed Wallace’s low drive went in.

And Wallace added the sixth, five minutes from time, as he ran at the tiring defence after good work from the impressive Patrick Agyemang to rifle home an unstoppable low shot.

The only real blemish on the day was what appeared to be a dislocated shoulder for former Pompey youngster Lewis Horsburgh.

It happened following an innocuous fall midway through the second half.

After showing some nice touches on trial at Bognor after his release from Pompey, he looked distraught as he made his way off using his shirt as a makeshift sling.

His former colleagues also looked concerned and the hope is that it’s not as bad as it looked on the day.

For Pompey, however, there were no new injuries reported ahead of this week’s training camp in Essex.

There will be time for a bit of bonding, a lot of hard work and an opportunity to find some more good habits in the next two games.