Stevens: No Pompey pitch excuses

Enda Stevens insists Newport County's pitch will not be used to excuse any unsatisfactory Pompey performance.

Friday, 23rd December 2016, 6:01 am
Updated Thursday, 29th December 2016, 3:11 pm
Pompey defender Enda Stevens Picture: Joe Pepler

And the left-back revealed the Blues have already been preparing how to cope with the under-fire Rodney Parade surface.

Paul Cook’s side head to Wales on Boxing Day to face League Two’s bottom club.

Graham Westley’s side are without a win in six matches, a period in which they have scored only twice.

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However, concerns over the quality of the playing surface will see Pompey alter their starting line-up and system.

The Blues’ players have been shown videos to highlight the problems they could encounter on the Exiles’ pitch.

And Stevens is adamant the team will be well-prepared as they seek a third successive away win.

He said: ‘On Wednesday we looked at clips of Newport’s pitch and it looks groggy, muddy and covered in sand.

‘It is very bobbly, you don’t know which way the ball is going to bounce so it’s going to be tough, we just have to stay focused and be solid.

‘Not that we are making any excuses because of the pitch, we know about it, we have been warned, and must get on with it.

‘In general, during the coming months pitches are going to get worse, they’ll freeze or harden up and you have to be ready.

‘When the match gets underway, you have to assess it for yourself and see how the game pans out, probably we’ll have to be more direct.

‘We have adapted plenty of times during matches, so have that within us.

‘I have got to be careful as a defender not to take risks on a surface like that and be careful with the bounce of the ball.

‘If I have an opportunity, I must put it into their box, so hopefully they are going to make the mistake we are trying not to.

‘The Fratton Park pitch has been excellent since I’ve been here. I remember watching a few seasons before and it was disgraceful, so you have to take your hat off to the groundsman.

‘This is a good test for us, we’ve done our homework and are going into the game well prepared.’

Westley’s side will inevitably be competitive and collected eight bookings in last weekend’s 3-1 defeat at Crawley.

While the Exiles’ crowd often generate an intimidating atmosphere.

Stevens added: ‘This is a competitive league, every game is tough, we have to be ready for that fight – and I think we are.

‘We have learnt from last season. When things aren’t going our way we can be dogged, like at Cambridge.

‘At Cheltenham we created enough chances to win but soon realised later in the game we could also lose it.

‘We have to be careful, especially away from home. We need a strong mindset not to lose the game.’