Training-ground goal lights up Pompey victory

Gareth Evans heads home against Northampton. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gareth Evans heads home against Northampton. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Gareth Evans saluted a goal off the training ground which sparked victory over Northampton.

The winger grabbed his first finish of the season in Pompey’s 2-0 Checkatrade Trophy win over the Cobblers on Saturday.

It was a delightful goal which lit up an otherwise dour first half in front of a crowd of 1,780 at Fratton Park.

It was the speed and fluency of the Blues’ counter-attack from a Lewis McGugan cross which caught the eye.

Brandon Haunstrup, Conor Chaplin and Evans turned defence into attack at a flying pace for the Pompey captain to round off the move and head in.

Evans explained the fact the Blues have worked on the move made it extra satisfying.

He said: ‘It was a good goal.

‘It was a counter-attack which came from their set-piece.

‘We managed to get it out of defence, I’ve passed it to Chappers (Chaplin) who came up with a really good dink which meant I didn’t have to do too much with the finish.

‘It was a really good team goal.

‘It wasn’t the most exciting first half you’ll ever see, but we were the better side.

‘The moment of the first half was the goal.

‘I’m not bigging myself up too much because it was a really good team goal.

‘It’s not something we haven’t worked on.

‘We work on the counter-attack all the time.

‘We think we can score from the opposing team’s set-pieces – and we showed that with the goal.

‘It’s what we work on a lot in training from opposition throw-ins and free-kicks.

‘So when we score from it that’s pleasing.’

Pompey’s goals offered cause for satisfaction, but a ninth clean sheet of the season was another pleasing factor in the victory.

It was also the second shut out on the bounce with Evans feeling it’s an area the Blues have needed to improve in.

He said: ‘It’s something we’ve had to work on.

‘We were really strong last season in terms of clean sheets. We didn’t concede too many.

‘The gaffer has pointed out we need to concede fewer goals and score a few more to really break into the top six.

‘Although it’s the Checkatrade Trophy it’s good practice for the league.

‘We’ve put out strong teams and everyone’s applied themselves.

‘It’s been useful. It’s given the fringe players a chance.

‘I’ve used it as an opportunity to get into the team and it’s helped give me a run. So the gaffer takes it seriously – and we take it seriously as well.

– JORDAN CROSS