Danny Cowley lifts lid on the unlikeliest of Portsmouth goalscorers - a borrowed Bristol City player

Marlee Francois started the day on Bristol City’s bench – and ended it in a Pompey shirt netting the equaliser.

Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 6:35 pm
Marlee Francois of Bristol City donned Pompey's shirt to become their goal hero. Picture: Rogan/JMP

And Danny Cowley has revealed the circumstances behind the unlikely goal hero’s shock presence in his Blues side.

With the fixture entering an additional 30 minutes beyond full-time, the Blues opted to take off triallist Brandon Mason at left-back, who was feeling tight.

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And with City offering winger Francois to ensure their visitors didn’t toil with 10 men, it led to a bizarre outcome.

Cowley told The News: ‘We had 22 outfield players and are not able to use Academy players for obvious reasons at the moment. Normally in this situation we would take two young players who fill in if injuries happen.

‘Unfortunately Lee Brown got injured in the 10th minute and we brought a player on to replace him (Brandon Mason).

‘What we didn’t want to do is put that player at risk and he got to 88 minutes and just felt a little tight, so didn’t take any risks and brought him off.

‘We were going to go down to 10 men, which we could have done, it would have been a good tactical piece of work, we would have learnt from it.

‘We spoke to Bristol City and said that this is what we were going to do – and they kindly offered us a player. We didn’t choose him, either.

‘So the gave us one of their young players and he played on the right wing and scored, doing himself no harm whatsoever!

‘We had to change the shape of the team, which was fine, we lost our way a little because of the system change as we haven’t done too much work on that system.’

Australian youth international Francois converted Jayden Reid’s pass to claim the equaliser in the 3-3 draw.

And while it represented an unusual occurrence – even in pre-season friendlies – Cowley insists it wasn’t new to him.

He added: ‘I’ve seen it before.

‘It happened for us at Lincoln against Hull. It was a small squad and we wanted to play 120 minutes.’

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