Pundit pinpoints the two Portsmouth players who made a 'big difference' in Ipswich win

The impacts of Ben Close and Michael Jacobs off the bench played a huge part to ensure Danny Cowley started life as Pompey boss with a victory.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 5:00 pm

That was the verdict of pundit Ali Maxwell, speaking on highlights programme EFL On Quest.

Cowley, along with brother Nicky, was named the Blues' head coach for the remainder of the season on Friday.

He succeeds Kenny Jackett, who lost his job after the Papa John’s Trophy final loss to Salford at Wembley.

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Despite James Norwood opening the scoring for the visitors, Tom Naylor and Marcus Harness were on target to move the Blues back to the cusp of play-offs.

Maxwell felt the introduction of Close and Jacobs in the second half – for Andy Cannon and Jordy Hiwula respectively – were pivotal changes made by Cowley.

And he was impressed by how Pompey continued on the front foot even in the dying embers of the clash.

Ben Close made an eye-catching impact off the bench against Ipswich. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘It couldn't have gone any better, winning after conceding the opening goal for the first time since April 2019,’ said Maxwell.

‘Marcus Harness, with the winning goal, was one of a number of players at the top end of the pitch who looked energised and told to press from the front. They did it really well.

‘The subs of Close and Jacobs made a big difference for Danny Cowley.

‘What I liked most about it was, right at the end, they didn't sit back and invite pressure. They spent basically the whole of stoppage-time in Ipswich's half and that's what Pompey fans wanted to see. It's really encouraging.’

Cowley's signed a short-term deal with Pompey until the end of the season.

His chief aim is to guide the Blues back to the Championship via the play-offs.

Should he achieve that target, Maxwell's confident it would earn Cowley a new contract at PO4.

He added: ‘He's betting on himself. What a good start, they have a favourable fixture list and if they can get into the play-offs then who knows?

‘If they can achieve promotion then I'm sure they'll take the team in the Championship next season.’

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