Portsmouth defensive resilience applauded following win at Rochdale 

It was second-half resilience which yielded a table-topping victory. 

And Joe Gallen was highly impressed with how Pompey performed defensively in the face of Rochdale’s most dangerous period.

Pompey assistant boss Joe Gallen. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey assistant boss Joe Gallen. Picture: Joe Pepler

The scoreline was locked at 1-1 at half-time during Saturday’s encounter at Spotland, after Jamal Lowe had cancelled out Aaron Wilbraham’s stunning opener.

Following the break, Keith Hill’s side largely dominated possession to apply sustained pressure on the Blues’ penalty area.

It proved to be a testing period – until Brett Pitman netted against the run of play to give the visitors the lead on 71 minutes.

Matt Clarke then wrapped up the 3-1 success late on to complete an excellent all-round display, having also been a towering figure amid the Blues’ defensive determination.

Assistant boss Gallen said: 'I thought Rochdale came back into it strongly in the second half without them having a clear-cut chance.

‘I don't remember them having a chance but they had a lot of territory. They had a lot of the ball in our half, we were defending up and around our box.

'Every game and every away game there is going to be a certain period, long periods, where you are defending and I think this season in particular it looks like we can hold out.

‘It looks like we can dig in for 20-25 minutes and defend and not concede too many chances, not concede too many goals.

‘It was just waiting for someone to click up front. We had not done too much in the second half and obviously things just clicked with the second goal.’

Following Clarke’s strike nine minutes from time, the Blues comfortably saw out victory.

And Gallen recognised how lessons had been learnt from the recent Peterborough encounter, when a late consolation was leaked after pushing forward too much.

He added: 'I did speak to Jamal about that (about keeping the ball in the corner).

‘I just think it is professional to do that. Even at 3-1, should they have they got one back with two or three minutes left it's uncomfortable.

'I think sometimes that can be a little bit frustrating for the supporters, but overall when you come away from home and are 3-1 up you just need to keep it 3-1 and take the points.’

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