Danny Cowley on chances of ambitious Portsmouth attacking line-up becoming permanent after devastating Doncaster audition

Danny Cowley declared his attacking intentions before a ball had been kicked with an ambitious team selection.

Sunday, 13th February 2022, 4:55 am

And the Blues head coach admits he could continue using the policy at Fratton Park matches to bolster home advantage.

The Blues ran out 4-0 winners over struggling Doncaster on Saturday, with all goals arriving in the second half.

Despite a frustratingly dour first half, they sprang to life through finishes from Reeco Hackett, George Hirst, substitute Aiden O’Brien and Sean Raggett.

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It was just reward for Cowley, who had the bravery to employ wingers Marcus Harness and Reeco Hackett as wing-backs, used one holding midfielder, and fielded two strikers.

According to Pompey’s boss, the selection consisted of an additional attacker – and the most ‘technical’ team picked all season.

And he could roll it out again during the remaining eight Fratton Park matches this term.

Cowley told The News: ‘We picked an extra attacking player at home and probably the most technical team we’ve selected all season – and you just have to commit to it.

The recalled Marcus Harness celebrates with goalscorer Sean Raggett at the final whistle of Pompey's 4-0 success over Doncaster. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘We just felt we could hurt them with crosses into the box and wanted to get two of our best crosses into advanced areas, which was the thinking behind the team.

‘Obviously when you play three games in a week it takes a lot of physical energy and effort to play the way we play, so it was always in our mind to try to freshen it up with three or four changes.

‘And thought, on the whole, we got the selection right.

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‘We played with one more attacking player, that’s all. We see Denver (Hume) as an attacking player and felt we didn’t want to be greedy, we can’t afford to be greedy with anyone and he hasn’t had a background of games.

‘With three games in a week, we would have worried about injuring him, so it made sense for us to bring Reeco in. We have a lot of faith in him, he’s such a good player.

‘Mahlon’s ankle is still stiff and sore, so we picked an extra attacking player on that side in Marcus (Harness).

‘The aim was to try to get into advanced areas and get good quality into the box. Marcus is one of the best crosses of the ball in the division for sure – and Reeco the same.’

‘We could well do it again. At home we’d always want to play with as much goal creation and goal threat as we possibly can.’

With 13 defeats in their previous 16 matches, Doncaster undoubtedly represented vulnerable opponents.

And prime candidates for Pompey stepping up their attacking intent, particularly on home soil.

Cowley added: ‘I say to my attacking players all the time, you want to play, I want to pick attacking players.

‘Now the way I can pick attacking players is if you work really, really hard for me against the ball, do your defensive duties to the best of your ability, then that allows me to play another attacking player.

‘So ultimately, the onus is on them.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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