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Barker: Effort Was Fantastic

1 January 2014

Boss felt Southend display deserved more

It was a cruel way for Pompey to start the new year.

A trip to high-flying Southend looked a tough prospect for Richie Barker’s side, but they did not appear over-awed.

Sonny Bradley opened his Blues account in a first half dominated by the visitors.

But Ryan Leonard levelled just before the break and then grabbed a sensational winner deep into stoppage-time.

Barker was unable to fault his side’s application afterwards, but knows they have to stay focused until the final whistle.

He said: “I’m devastated for the players because they put in so much effort – the work-rate was fantastic.

“They did everything that we asked of them, except perhaps for dealing with the long ball.

“If you look at our display against a side that are probably going to finish in the play-offs, in difficult conditions and with a lot of people missing, then it probably is our best performance.

”Their goalkeeper pulled off a lot more saves than Trevor, so we must have done something right.

“We were short on numbers and had a lot of young players involved in the game, but we competed against one of the best teams in our division.

“We conceded just before half-time and then a minute before the end. It’s cruel, but you have to keep your concentration and see the match through.

”But we moved the ball well and Jed was a real threat. He’s hit the bar twice in a few days and it’s cost us a few points – at the minute it’s just not going for us.”

Ricky Holmes joined Pompey’s growing injury list after suffering a head injury at Roots Hall.

That saw Ashley Harris handed a first appearance since the end of last season and he set up Bradley’s goal before being substituted late on.

Barker said: “We’re rapidly running out of players – and have now lost another one.

“Numbers are an issue for us, so hopefully we can get at least one in before the weekend.

“Ashley was needed and I thought he did a good job, but was tired towards the end and that’s why we took him off.

“Those weren’t the conditions for your first game in a long time, but he’s back in the fold and has been given a chance.”

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