Stevens revels in familiar Pompey first-goal feeling

Enda Stevens. Picture: Joe Pepler
Enda Stevens. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Rose in action against AFC Wimbledon last season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Date set for Pompey’s Carabao Cup first-round tie against AFC Wimbledon

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That’s 10 times Pompey have opened the scoring in League Two fixtures this season – and they’ve won them all.

The startling statistic is not lost on Enda Stevens.

Paul Cook has regularly reminded his squad of the importance of grabbing the first goal in a match.

The familiar outcome was there at Fratton Park on Saturday, as Accrington tumbled to defeat.

It took only 75 seconds to break the deadlock, although seemed an eternity before Kal Naismith sealed the 2-0 victory in stoppage time.

Still, once again the Blues retained their lead – and the result was a crucial victory in their promotion push.

Stevens said: ‘We all know about that stat, that is what we are working on.

‘We are trying to put pressure on teams in the first 10 minutes, getting on the front foot and getting that first goal.

‘It’s important that we try to maintain that for as long as we can until we score.

‘We work hard to get that lead, we start games 100mph, we want to put in as much effort as we can to get that first goal, then the tactics come into play.

‘Sometimes we can’t score, the keeper might have a worldie – which we’ve seen before – so then we mustn’t lose games by going too gung-ho.

‘Scoring first against Accrington took a lot of pressure off us, but then, as the game went on, the pressure started to come back on and built up.

‘You could feel the pressure from the fans, they must be so frustrated, they want to see us do well – and luckily we did it, but just a bit late.

‘To see Kal score the second was the biggest relief of the day!

‘It was coming, it was just a matter of time and, typical us, we waited until the last minute to do it.’

Pompey barely looked like conceding in a victory which lifts them to sixth in the table – four points off third spot.

It may not have been a smooth 90 minutes, but it yielded a deserved win.

Stevens added: ‘I always felt we were comfortable, bar Gaz Evans’ throw to Matt Clarke, while they had that chance from the free-kick.

‘We knew we were going to score another, it was just a matter of time.

‘I thought we deserved it, we looked the more threatening, we dominated play more in the first half.

‘They were always going to have a spell in the second half and, as long as it was 1-0 to us, we had to keep the clean sheet.

‘It was a pressure game, we had lost our previous two matches and needed to keep that focus to end that run.

‘Now we can start kicking on.’