BRIAN HOWARD has demanded Pompey deliver six points from their next two home games.
And the Blues skipper has told his team-mates they have to step up and deliver against Crewe tomorrow and then Shrewsbury – to cleanse the memory of the abject Johnstone’s Paint Trophy exit at the hands of League Two strugglers Wycombe.
Pompey take on Steve Davis’ side at Fratton Park in upwardly mobile form in League One, after collecting seven points from their past three games.
Their progress hit the buffers on Tuesday, however, with a hugely-disappointing knockout exit to Gareth Ainsworth’s Chairboys.
Howard has challenged Michael Appleton’s men to react in the best possible manner as they return to league business against the Railwaymen.
Pompey have two home games on the bounce coming up at Fratton Park – and Howard wants nothing less than a maximum return from those clashes.
He said: ‘It’s vital for us to get back on track.
‘We need six points from the next two games – and that starts tomorrow.
‘We need to turn Fratton Park into a fortress now.
‘We’ve had two really good away results and performances. Now it’s time to kick on.
‘You are going to get knockbacks. It’s all about how you react.
‘The great thing in this league is you seem to have a game come along every few days.
‘So it’s an opportunity to put things right at the weekend.
‘We need to get the first goal again. It’s sloppy from us that it (conceding the first goal in games) keeps happening.
‘We’ve got momentum in the league, though.
‘Wycombe was a knockback but we have to go out there and make sure we put things right.’
Appleton opted to go with a diamond formation against Wycombe on Tuesday night, as former QPR midfielder Akos Buzsaky made his full debut for the Blues.
Despite the result, Howard thought the formation proved effective in large parts.
The 29-year-old felt sloppy mistakes marred that, though, with the Blues all at sea for long periods of the first half.
He believes there could be a future for the system moving forward.
And insisted he could operate in it with new recruit Buzsaky.
‘I thought the diamond worked well at times,’ he said.
‘I thought, other than the sloppy mistakes, we controlled the tempo of the game on Tuesday.
‘There were a lot of chances and we wanted to get behind the full-backs, which we did comfortably.
‘It allows me to get on the ball more and control the tempo of the game.
‘If Akos plays and is fully sharp he can pick those little passes and score his goals from the edge of the box.
‘Then there is Lee Williamson who can play between the lines.
‘I think me and Akos can play together, without a doubt. We are both sensible, clever players.
‘We want to pass the ball to each other and bring players into play.’