Pompey showing they can handle pressure

Pompey defender Matt Clarke
Pompey defender Matt Clarke
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Matt Clarke believes Pompey are showing they’re embracing the play-off pressure.

The defender reckons his team underlined their renewed resolve as they grafted to a 0-0 draw at Plymouth.

Clarke also felt Kenny Jackett’s men were the better side at Home Park and comfortable against a side who have delivered 11 wins from 12 on their own patch.

The 21-year-old helped the Blues to their fourth clean sheet in six games as they stretched their unbeaten run to six matches.

The Pilgrims clash marks the start of three matches in eight days for Pompey.

The stakes are high as the season reaches a climax, but Clarke insists dealing with the intensity of a top-six bid is something his team are comfortable taking on.

He said: ‘There’s that cup final feel to every game now and we’re going to embrace it.

‘We would’ve loved to get the win but we haven’t played ourselves out of it.

‘It was a good performance to a man and we did all we can.

‘You can’t go into games thinking it’s do or die, but in some respects it is.

‘You can’t expect to lose two games in a row now and still be where we are in the table.

‘Being the team just outside we have to take it to these teams and get wins. That’s what we’ll look to do.

‘It’s a bit of a cliché but winning is a habit.

‘When you have that momentum things fall for you. Wins happen when it’s like that.

‘We’re optimistic and we think we can do it.

‘We can’t lose too many at this time but we’re embracing these games and how important they are.’

The quality may not have always been there in the latest port battle, but the showdown with Plymouth was once again a high-tempo affair.

After a fairly even first half, the Pilgrims upped the pressure after the break but Pompey looked largely comfortable repelling them.

Jackett’s side then produced a late charge with chances in the last 20 minutes to grab the points.

Plymouth boss Derek Adams was critical of the Blues and felt they played negatively.

Clarke couldn’t agree with that sentiment, though, and felt his side were the better of the two.

He said: ‘If the game was 10 minutes longer we’d have fancied being the team to win it.

‘There were positives with our defending. They didn’t have many chances.

‘Plymouth started the season dreadfully but have been on a really good run.

‘To come and get a point isn’t something to be too negative about. We have to be positive.

‘They never really cut us open.

‘They had some good possession in midfield but we were comfortable really.

‘They have good players like (Graham) Carey who has nice 
one-touch movement and it looks good when it goes into him.

‘We’ve got to accept when you play against good sides there will be spells when you’re not on top, but we didn’t look stretched and defended well.

‘I feel that we have to take the positive that we were the better side.’