That’s according to the Blues’ head coach, who took the surprise decision to revert to a flack back four at Bolton last night.
The encounter ended in a 1-1 draw as Pompey’s play-off hopes now appear over – nonetheless Cowley believes they deserved a win.
For the trip to the University of Bolton Stadium, he dropped Mahlon Romeo and pushed Hayden Carter into a right-back role, with Connor Ogilvie at left-back.
Meanwhile, the 4-2-3-1 featured Michael Jacobs, Aiden O’Brien, Marcus Harness and George Hirst as a four-pronged attack.
And Cowley has explained the reasoning behind scrapping his favoured back three formation.
He told The News: ‘I know you guys love talking about formations, but even when we play a back three we build with a back four, so it wasn’t actually that much change.
‘We probably just changed a wing-back for an attacking player.
‘It was brave because when you look at some of Bolton’s results here, they’ve beaten Sunderland 6-0 and AFC Wimbledon 4-0 and score goals at will.
‘But we wanted to win, we had to win. We felt on the counter-attack that if we pressed high with that four then they would always be high up the pitch and we’d be able to play through to them.
‘We looked at it pragmatically and picked a team we thought would help us win the game.
‘I say brave because Bolton have struggled against back fives if you look at their results, so I suppose it was brave in that respect.
‘But when we looked at the back fours they’ve played against, we defend differently from that anyway, so we didn’t think it was too relevant.
‘Bolton have a huge pitch, it is really, really wide, and that suits the way they play. I can see why teams come here and play with the extra defender because you have so much space to defend.
‘However, we wanted to go there and try to take the ball off them – and I thought we did that.’
Kieran Sadlier’s penalty 14 minutes from time cancelled out Aiden O’Brien’s 50th-minute goal.
The spot kick was the lifeline the Trotters required, having seemingly run out of ideas and Pompey comfortable with their lead.
Cowley added: ‘We wanted to come and press aggressively – as we like to – and I thought we were able to disrupt their rhythm.
‘We carried a threat all night on the counter attack. We wanted to play with a belief and bravery to take the ball away from them.
‘I think we should be talking about a really good away performance – and a really good away win.’
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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