Blues defence make their case

Pompey players celebrate. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey players celebrate. Picture: Joe Pepler

Guy Whittingham hailed his side’s best defensive display of the season as they progressed in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The Blues kept the back five unchanged for the first time as they took on Torquay last night.

That meant John Sullivan kept his place in goal and Danny East remained at left-back, with Marcos Painter injured and Dan Butler on the bench.

The result was a goalless draw after 90 minutes – with Yassin Moutaouakil netting the winner in a 5-3 penalty shootout success.

Pompey’s display at Plainmoor also earned them only a second clean sheet in seven matches.

Defensive frailties have been well documented this season. Pompey’s manager was delighted with how his rearguard acquitted themselves.

He said: ‘Whenever you are playing, your first aim is to get a clean sheet, so we are pleased with that.

‘I think they were quite well organised.

‘Sonny and Joe were both commanding in the area, Yassin is a full-back who is hard to beat anyway and Danny East got better.

‘John Sullivan and his kicking was decent last night also and I think that was our best defensive performance.

‘Obviously we didn’t concede to Morecambe.

‘But they were down to 10-men so to do that against 11 and Torquay really not having much of a chance was superb.

‘Just looking at our central defenders, I think they are getting better with every game and I think they realise they have got to.

‘With Bondz (N’Gala) in the background as well – and we know he is a decent centre-half and itching to get on the pitch – they have to keep playing well.

‘They won the headers well, they covered each other well and we have just been working on pressing up the pitch a bit more so we don’t drop too deep.

‘When we got Joe a lot of talk from his agent and people who know him was once he gets going he will improve all the time – and we are seeing what they are saying.’

Although only penalties separated the sides, Whittingham was adamant the best team won eventually.

Sonny Bradley, Jed Wallace, Ricky Holmes, Tom Craddock and Moutaouakil all netted in the shootout.

Torquay’s Lee Mansell crucially missed when he blazed the ball over the bar.

Whittingham said: ‘I think we created the better chances

‘We had 10 or 11 corners where we got ourselves on the end of most things so I am pleased with the performance.

‘It’s a win and a win away from home, that is what it will go down as, although it’s a 0-0 draw really and you have to move on.

‘For once we got a result we deserved. Throughout the 90 minutes we were the better side.’