A GRUELLING Easter programme and two exhausting performances within 48 hours reaped successive triumphs.
What’s more, victory over Wigan was achieved without utilising a single substitution.
The lads showed great desire and great fitness – and credit to themBrett Pitman
A remarkable Pompey double bill from Kenny Jackett’s troops and, according to Brett Pitman, testament to the players’ excellent fitness levels.
Paul Cook’s promotion-chasing visitors were thwarted by a gutsy and whole-hearted display on Bank Holiday Monday as the Blues ran out 2-1 winners.
Such lung-busting endeavour over the 90 minutes was appreciated by the Fratton faithful, who generated the best atmosphere of the season for the televised encounter.
And skipper Pitman, who completed 90 minutes in both matches, was proud of his team-mates for their tireless efforts.
He said: ‘I thought our work-rate was the main thing you could take out of that game – and you have to give the lads massive credit for that.
‘We didn’t make a substitution, we made one enforced change from Saturday and we had a day’s less rest than Wigan.
‘Yet the effort and work-rate of the midfield three and two wingers was incredible.
‘I don’t think too much about tiredness, you get on with it. Obviously going ahead and getting a second one to give you something to protect makes it a hell of a lot easier than when you try to chase a game when fatigue can set in.
‘The crowd obviously pushed us on, but when you have something to hold onto it makes the tiredness a lot easier, you forget about it.
‘We probably sank a little bit deep during the second half, that is probably natural to do when you are protecting something.
‘When you are up front on your own and protecting a lead, a lot of the time you are just chasing lost causes, but I could have carried on for another 10-15 minutes – like everybody else.’
That Fratton Park performance should have dispelled whispers among some supporters over fitness concerns for Jackett’s men.
Recent comments from Drew Talbot over the training regime he left at the turn of the year had raised such questions.
However, Wigan represented the second time in a month that Jackett opted not to use his bench – the other being March’s 2-0 win at Oldham.
Clearly the Blues boss trusts his players’ commitment and fitness levels to see out the full 90 minutes without the necessity for fresh legs.
Tomorrow Pompey head to Rochdale seeking to build on their encouraging late play-off push.
And they will do so having demonstrated indefatigable energy.
Pitman added: ‘A lot of managers and lot of teams will think “Saturday and Monday, we have got to make five, six, seven changes” – but I am not entirely sure.
‘The Wigan match proved you don’t need to, the lads are fit and going right until the end. They probably could have gone for longer.
‘That is testament to the lads’ fitness. They showed great desire and great heart.’