The best finisher at Portsmouth, eyes on Lincoln City and who starts up front at Sincil Bank? It's the latest Blues Q&A

There’s plenty of ground covered in the latest Pompey Q&A as up-and-coming reporter Pepe Lacey was joined by chief sports writer Neil Allen to discuss the latest issues.

Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 3:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd November 2021, 4:10 pm

What did you make of Pompey’s 2-1 win on Saturday?

That was a fantastic finale wasn't it really. It was a strange atmosphere wasn’t it, it was quite flat a lot of the time, even the away fans were remarking on that in some of their songs. There wasn’t a great Fratton Park spirit really was there.

And then the roar when Michael Jacobs got that equaliser was fantastic, it really was, it was like wow what a moment that was.

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Who will start up front tonight?

And from that point on it did lift Pompey and Pompey were then looking the more likely to score a goal weren’t they. The fans were roaring them on trying to get that win and then that moment in the 89th minute that winner in front of the Fratton End was wonderful.

I love the fact that the 10 outfield players celebrated with him, obviously Bazunu was on the other end of the pitch and it was just a wonderful moment.

Again from someone who has been there when no fans have been there in recent times because of circumstances it was just sensational. What a dramatic match winner right in front of the Fratton End, we all came up quite high after that didn't we.

It was tough at times for Pompey in terms of trying to break Wimbledon down and also falling behind to that atrocious penalty decision but they came back. We all questioned their heart, their fight, their desire, their gut and we all questioned that after the Ipswich debacle which followed the Rotherham collapse and we thought they haven’t got anything in them do they and in the seven games subsequently they’ve proved they have.

How big is it that Pompey have finally come from behind to win a game in League One since back in May?

It goes back to that old cliche that Pompey fans want a player giving 100 per cent. That's all they want to see is players putting everything in. We’ve said it so many times over the years but it still applies.

That wasn’t present at all against Ipswich, there have been many times this season where Pompey have conceded a goal and not responded.

MK Dons away, Rotherham because it was 1-1 and then they capitulated appallingly and again Ipswich was quite tight until the first goal and that Bazunu mistake and then they just capitulated and there’s been a few times, Burton’s another one where they didn't suggest they couldn’t get back into the game.

And we were questioning in our heart weren’t we that and rightly so with a new group of players we’ve not seen them have the guts to fight back.

I always remember early in Paul Cook’s reign that they were 3-0 down at home to Morecambe and they came back to draw 3-3 through Jayden Stockley’s last minute goal.

It’s just moments like that where Pompey have to come back and win games or show a bit of spirit or a bit of fight or anything and we’ve not seen it at all this season.

Saturday as well as Wycombe we saw it. They were 1-0 down through an awful penalty decision. Clearly it affected them because they felt hard done by for a little while until the break and they came back, showed their professionalism, got on with it and got the win.

It’s so crucial that they can fight back, you can't win every game leading sometimes you have to come from behind to get points.

With Marcus Harness scoring seven out of the last 11, how pivotal has he been for Danny Cowley in the recent change of fortune?

I’ve seen some great stats about him that he’s been Danny Cowley’s top scorer since he’s come to the club.

He’s got seven in 11 now and he’s got eight for the season and it’s just wonderful goalscoring form from Harness, I’ve said it for a long time that he’s the best finisher in this squad. The best, no one comes close.

Forget Harrison, Marquis, from what we’ve seen at Hirst, Curtis is a good finisher don’t get me wrong. Pompey’s right winger, who doesn’t take penalties and barely takes a free kick, is the best finisher they’ve got.

We’ve seen that time and time again with these strikes from the edge of the area, he’s not too bad in the air and he can finish the ball with either foot.

I wrote it in my match report the other day. It's a great stat that before he came to Pompey he scored eight goals in 120 odd first team appearances in his career. Since coming here in July 2019 he’s got 27 goals in something like 108 games, which is a phenomenal record for a winger, as is Curtis.

Neither of them take penalties and they’ve consistently for Pompey at this level and it’s superb and you always go back to how do you replace players like that, it’s tough Ryan Williams didn’t get many goals, Hackett hasn’t got many goals he’s got a few - can’t head it though really can he, not going to see many headed goals for him can he.

But these are wingers that chip in with goals and they really are worth their weight in gold.

Pompey hot in form at the moment - seven unbeaten. How do you see tomorrow night panning out against a Lincoln side that has had a slow start to League One this season?

I was looking at Lincoln and I was very surprised to see them so far down the table at the moment because last season they did ever so well and just lost out in the play off final.

Cowley was saying the same in the press conference this morning before the team headed to Lincoln. He was saying that for him Lincoln last season was the best team on paper.

He thought Michael Appleton and his recruitment team assembled a really good squad last year, a lot of that was down to quality loan players coming from the Championship and the Premier League.

They returned to their clubs and Lincoln have had to rebuild again and it’s not quite gone their way yet this season.

They’ve lost a couple of key players as well but you just look at Pompey at the moment and there’s something about them.

There’s a buzz about them; their guts; theirs fit about them they’re on a seven match unbeaten run. I know Crystal Palace under-21’s and Harrow Borough are in the middle of that but you’ve still got to beat them.

Not everyone played well against Harrow Borough, don’t even start, there weren’t many good performances in that game. But they still won it.

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Seven games unbeaten and they’ve won their last four, it’s momentum and Cowley needed that because we were all extremely disillusioned after the Ipswich game so Pompey can hopefully go to this Lincoln side and get a positive result whether it be a draw or a victory.

With John Marquis potentially returning, do you see him coming straight back in or does George Hirst still put up a fight to start?

John Marquis is back flattening the conspiracy theory that he had fallen out with the manager and all that nonsense.

He's been injured, he really has been injured. He’s back available apparently, when we saw Danny Cowley this morning the team were going to be driving up to Lincoln to train ahead of the game tomorrow.

So he was going to assess training and see how Marquis trains then to see if he’s ready to return to the starting 11 or even the bench so we’ll see about that one.

You’d imagine he'll be on the bench at the very least if he’s okay and comes through that, so then it’s a big decision for the manager then.

Does he keep Hirst, it’ll be down to which playing style fits the team for that game. He’s very much like that, he surprised us all when he brought Jacob in on Saturday and changing a winning team from Wycombe so he’s very much like that and takes it game by game and looks at the team so perhaps he may think this is a game that suits John Marquis better with his pressing style.

And perhaps he may think that suits Pompey better, so we’ll see. But for me I think George Hirst has done really well, it didn’t quite come off Saturday but you can’t play phenomenally every game, players have their good spells and their bad spells.

Certainly John Marquis has so we’ll see how that all pans out but it’s quite difficult to gauge a Danny Cowley team, no one foresaw Michael Jacobs coming in for the first time since April on Saturday. I think we all rate Michael Jacobs so that was quite a surprise to us all - but it worked so credit to the manager for that.

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