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Now You're Gonna Believe Us: P'boro Review

Pompey players celebrate Yengi's winning goal at London Road

Saturdays victory at London Road will go down as one of the most memorable and defining Pompey results of recent years. 

It is a game that will live long in the memory for its significance, as well as the atmosphere generated by 4,000 raucous Blues. 

But for many, this was the tipping point, where even the most pessimistic Blues fan could now believe that this team can take us to The Championship. 

Pre-game when the team news was announced at 2pm, there were some absentees. Lane and Rafferty had come down with illness, seeing the former omitted from the matchday squad completely. Mousinho opting to revert back to The Blues more familiar 4-2-3-1 shape and bringing his top scorer back into the fold, as well as Jack Sparkes stepping back in at left back. 

You certainly could feel some sympathy for Yengi having missed out, currently in his finest form since arriving on the South Coast. The Blue boss had a really difficult decision to make between his two top strikers and you would have been comfortable with either having been selected to start the game. 

Peterborough are a very, very good side. When they play through the thirds they are so fluid, the movement is slick and the players are technically gifted throughout the side. Pompey’s approach was brave and is to be commended. The press was high, Saydee and Moxon pushed closer to Bishop without the ball to really try and put the squeeze on The Posh playing out. 

The bold approach of this team in the biggest game of the season so far is what I love about our manager. Brave, bold and exciting, he sets his team out to try and win every game. 

When that press wasn’t executed correctly in the early stages on Saturdays contest, the home side were able to break the first line of pressure, open out the pitch and release the two wingers. Mason-Clark is an exceptional talent with the ball at his feet, meaning Zak Swanson had his hands full from the get-go. 

There were some tricky moments for the young right-back, but what a performance from a man in his first start for some time following surgery. 

Swanson looked out on his feet in the closing stages of the game, but had managed to tame the threat of Mason-Clark. There would have been no prior plan to throw Swanson in for a starting role, but with the Gaffer’s hand being forced, he would have had everything crossed that Swanson could get through it. 

On the other flank, Sparkes was also set for a busy afternoon with Poku running at him. Sparkes would produce his best performance of the campaign. Throughout the season, there has always been talk of the left-backs vulnerability’s when defending, an area some teams have targeted. Jacks Sparkes showed on Saturday that his game has come a long way, defending superbly for the whole ninety minutes. 

The two full backs, whose selections had raised many questions, had answered them and nullified Peterborough’s biggest threats. There were more players that you felt stepped up and put in some top performances.

Sean Raggett was a tower of strength once more, his partnership with Connor Shaughnessy has blossomed and looks as dependable as any we have seen. 

Marlon Pack once more continued his fine run of form, but when you play against some of the best in the league you need some help from your midfield partner. He had that in Owen Moxon, once again producing his best performance for Pompey. Moxon is growing game by game, Saturday he was everywhere winning his tackles, fighting for the ball in the air and also displaying his qualities with the ball. His late addition in January is looking more and more pivotal as the games are chalked off in the run-in.

There was of course, another injury to add to the list, which seems to have now become standard practice on a matchday. Saydee having to depart with a hamstring injury. It is so unfortunate for him, having just come back into the side and showing his best form. Hopefully the break has come at a good time and he doesn’t miss too much action.

We did get to see Bishop supporting Yengi for a large period of the game. There were glimpses of some good combinations between the two, I certainly would be interested to see that pairing in a game where Pompey are able to dominate more possession, to see how that dynamic works further.

When momentum was swinging towards the home side, Gavin Whyte was introduced in place of the quiet Miles Peart-Harris in the second half. It was one of the best displays we have seen from the North Irishman, adding energy and showing some classy touches with the ball. His part in the winning goal cannot be understated. 

Winning the ball following another Raggett block, bursting forward to receive a return pass from Bishop. At that point he is able to show composure and awareness to stay on the ball,  bringing Bishop and Yengi into the game. The Bishop run opens out the space for the pass to Yengi and what a moment that follows. 

Yengi uses his pace and power to get round the outside of the defender and finishing with his weaker foot. The Australian is always a threat in 1v1 situations and open space in front of him.

With the ball hitting the back of the net, it prompted pandemonium in the away end for the 4,000 blue army that had travelled. The two subs combining to bring Pompey all three points on a massive day in the League One promotion charge. The significance of those changes by John Mousinho, effecting the game positively once again shows us that we have a highly intelligent manager at the helm.

During an interview a few weeks back, Mous had said that his fringe players would have a big say in the run-in. In recent weeks we have seen Saydee come to the fore and now Whyte has contributed significantly. 

When players are omitted from matchday squads, it can be easy to become disillusioned. What we are seeing whenever these players are called upon, this is a highly motivated group, all aligned to achieve something special this season. 

All the credit for this has to go to the management of the squad and the environment created by John Mousinho and his staff. In the post match scenes, Towler and Martin led the celebrations having not even kicked a ball, in a further showing of the togetherness within the squad.

This is a special group that has been brought together and if ever a result and performance summarised a team perfectly it would be this one. 

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