The Portsmouth summer recruit showing early signs he can help get best out of John Marquis

He's barely been on the south coast a few weeks – but Ryan Tunnicliffe's assessment of Pompey's first-half performance told plenty about his character.

Tuesday, 13th July 2021, 8:00 am

Speaking to the press for the first time since penning a two-year deal at Fratton Park, the midfielder was frank when it came to the Blues' display against the Hawks.

A strong-looking side found themselves 2-1 down at to Paul Doswell’s side - who play three divisions below Danny Cowley's outfit.

‘I know it's early days but I think it’s important to set standards early on,’ Tunnicliffe said.

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'It’s only our second game, but I don’t think we can come here and perform the way we performed because that’s not winning habits.’

The second-half side profusely made up of triallists put the team who featured in the first period to shame, netting four goals to ensure Pompey avoided defeat to non-league opposition.

By Tunnicliffe’s admission, an XI made up of players expected to be part of a League One promotion charge were bailed out.

In truth, there weren't many individual performances Cowley would have taken any satisfaction from in the opening 45 minutes.

Ryan Tunnicliffe impressed for Pompey against the Hawks. Picuture Paul Collins
Ryan Tunnicliffe impressed for Pompey against the Hawks. Picuture Paul Collins

The head coach bemoaned how Pompey lacked the sort of intensity he was seeking, not playing with enough speed that's at the heart of his philosophy.

However, Tunnicliffe couldn't be criticised for that.

The ex-Millwall man indeed delivered the energy Cowley desires and was the stand-out performer in the first period.

He netted Pompey’s 17th-minute equaliser through a fine, composed finish – but it was his vision in possession that was more impressive.

In particular, he linked up with John Marquis on numerous occasions.

There was one perfectly-weighted lofted pass that set Marquis free, only to see his effort well saved, as well as a neat through ball that ended in the same result.

They'd again combine in a similar manner, only for Marquis to be flagged offside.

Granted, the finishing left much to be desired, but in his two seasons at PO4, Marquis has lacked the sort of inventiveness required to get the best out of him.

Cowley's lauded the £1m signing from Doncaster's movement on several occasions while in the hot seat, although there's been no-one with the sufficient quality in behind to supply him with the consistent ammunition required.

The early signs show that Tunnicliffe could be that man, while recruiting a quintessential number 10 who can also feed Marquis is also on the head coach's to-do list.

In a Westleigh Park performance with not too many positives before the interval, Tunnicliffe's was at least one.