Danny Cowley reveals why he ditched Portsmouth's favoured formation to take on Plymouth

Danny Cowley has lifted the lid on why he unveiled a surprise system switch against Plymouth.

By Neil Allen
Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 4:55 am
Updated Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 7:34 am
Goalscorer Lee Brown operated as a left wing-back last night against Plymouth as Danny Cowley initiated a system change. Picture: Robin Jones
Goalscorer Lee Brown operated as a left wing-back last night against Plymouth as Danny Cowley initiated a system change. Picture: Robin Jones

Pompey’s head coach employed a back three for last night’s visit of the high-flying Pilgrims in an attempt to end a four-game losing streak.

That saw Sean Raggett, Shaun Williams and Kieron Freeman serve as the centre-halves, with Mahlon Romeo and Lee Brown operating as wing-backs.

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Cowley was delighted with how his new-look formation fared against a Plymouth team who have long operated with that system.

And it could well remain in place for Saturday’s trip to Charlton.

He told The News: ‘I think the system change worked. I was really proud of the way that the players adapted.

‘I don't think it was ideal, but when you lose two left-footed defenders it’s difficult and you have to try to find solutions.

‘From 5pm on Saturday to yesterday, we were looking at every option available to us – and also the opponents and what their threats are.

‘We wanted to get a left-footed balance in the team and thought the only way we could do that was going to a back three.

‘We also wanted to get two forwards on pitch, which I have always liked at home. As a consequence of that, we did carry a lot more goal threat.

‘We had 48 hours to work on it. You can hardly touch them (the players) on the Sunday, but we did some work on Monday.

‘We also did a lot of work off the field in our coaching, which is another way to try to get the information to the players.

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‘To be honest, I’m not too caught up with formations and numbers because the principles don’t change, but I thought we got an incredible energy on the ball.

‘What you have to remember with the way we pressed against Plymouth, we pressed with one less player.

‘So for John, Ronan and Marcus as a three to press against their five was a quite incredible effort and good on them.’

Skipper Brown handed Pompey a fourth-minute lead against Plymouth through a left-footed free-kick.

However, two Ryan Hardie goals emanating from breakaways following Blues attacks, saw the hosts 2-1 down with 10 minutes remaining.

Then Raggett popped up to finish from close range after substitute Ellis Harrison had headed back Ronan Curtis’ cross from the left.

Cowley added: ‘Credit to the players.

‘Football is an honest game and when you work as hard as they did they deserved something.

‘Was the performance perfect? Nowhere near. But if the effort and attitude is perfect, then normally good things happen.’

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