Woan: Defensive strength is the secret

Ian Woan and Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Ian Woan and Pompey boss Steve Cotterill
Jez Bedford

Pompey recall midfielder Bedford

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Pompey’s new-found defensive strength has been hailed as the key to success over Barnsley.

Ian Woan pinpointed the Blues’ second shutout on the bounce as the biggest positive of Saturday’s win over the Tykes.

Woan believes being able to name a settled defensive unit was fundamental to shutting out Mark Robins’ men.

The clean sheet is Pompey’s fifth of the campaign and Woan reckons the work being put in with the back-line is now paying off.

He said: ‘It’s all about clean sheets and we focused on that before game because we always know we can score.

‘It’s our second clean sheet on the bounce. It’s a major plus for us. We have been struggling to keep clean sheets.

‘The back five has been the same for us in the last two games and that’s been a big difference.

‘We defended well in a scrappy game. A 1-0 win is what we needed.

‘We’ve done a lot of work with them on the training field.

‘Continuity has been a big thing for us. It helps the defence to know what each other is doing.

‘When you pick the same back four that helps us to have that situation.’

Kanu was again the Pompey hero, as he was summoned from the bench to win the game for his side.

The mercurial Nigerian immediately showed his class after replacing Joel Ward with 20 minutes left.

Woan felt the ‘magician’ was the perfect man to be able to call on to light up a largely lacklustre game.

And his goal justified withdrawing Ward from the action.

He said: ‘Kanu is a magician. You see him day-in, day-out doing it in training.

‘There were a few raised eyebrows from the fans over the change.

‘But you want your subs to make an impact. King came on and was perfect for the game and the way it was going.

‘We weren’t getting hold of it but he did his thing and got the winner, so we were justified in the decision to bring Wardy off.

‘Some of the things he does with the ball is phenomenal.

‘The way he’s played and the enthusiasm he gives us every day in training is excellent.

‘His legs can’t carry him for 90 minutes now but in a game which is crying out for a bit of magic you can throw the big fella on.

‘You can’t get the ball off him and it’s got to the stage where you don’t want to challenge him because he embarrasses you.

‘The whole stand will go one way with his stepovers.

‘You know they are coming but you can’t do anything about it.

‘He created two or three chances and that was something we didn’t have.

‘He was perfect for the situation.’