Pompey boss explains defensive reshuffle

Bondz N'Gala cuts a forlorn figure after the Stags equalise. Picture: Joe Pepler
Bondz N'Gala cuts a forlorn figure after the Stags equalise. Picture: Joe Pepler

Guy Whittingham lifted the lid on his Mansfield defensive reshuffle and explained: We needed aerial power.

The Pompey boss switched around his back line in the 2-2 draw at Field Mill on Saturday.

Whittingham brought in Bondz N’Gala after the Blues grabbed their first League Two win against Morecambe.

N’Gala made his maiden league start, coming in for Yassin Moutaouakil with Joe Devera switching to right-back.

Whittingham stated the reason for that was to give his side extra presence to deal with the direct and powerful style Mansfield employ.

He felt that approach worked well until a lapse 18 minutes from time when Phil Smith collided with Devera and N’Gala as he came for a cross – which led to sub Lindon Meikle netting an equaliser.

Whittingham said: ‘We knew we were going to face a lot of aerial balls into out box.

‘So we brought in Bondz to give us that extra bit of height in there.

‘We wanted to make sure we had players in the side who could head the ball. Bondz won his headers and there were a lot of balls coming into the box for him to deal with.

‘It wasn’t easy to deal with – not looking from the sidelines anyway.

‘But I thought we handled it well in large parts.

‘You have to look at every opposition separately and when we are away from home we are hard to beat.

‘We’re a bit disappointed not to get three points but we haven’t lost and this won’t be an easy place to come to this season with the pressure they put you under.’

Another selection talking point from Saturday’s game was the fact winger Ricky Holmes failed to see any action.

Whittingham insisted the reason for that was he had to take off Marcos Painter, who limped out of the action in the second-half.

Holmes is still waiting for his first league start after arriving from Barnet this summer.

Keeping faith with Jed Wallace was part of the reason for that but Whittingham assured the player his time will come.

Whittingham said: ‘Marcos Painter going down really stopped me bringing Ricky on.

‘We know Pat (Agyemang) tires, so we had to bring Birdy (Ryan Bird) on because he has energy.

‘So we haven’t let Ricky Holmes go yet.

‘I think people will be surprised with what he can do.

‘Barch and Jed are doing well but I know he’s dead keen to get in.

‘When people see him for a couple of games they will know we have three players out wide who can attack well.

‘There’s no real reason why he’s been held back.

‘Barch has played well and there’s three players for two positions. So someone has to miss out.

‘Ricky had the injury at first and I stuck by Jed. He was having a tough time of it and didn’t play that well but he was good in the Morecambe game and got a good goal.

‘When Ricky gets in the team we won’t expect him to be magnificent in every game.

‘But you have to have the confidence to stick by these people.

‘And if they aren’t playing well, they know it’s not about just one game.’