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Steely Pompey Please Boss

11 January 2014

Barker happy with a hard-fought point at Oxford

The Blues were leaking goals at an alarming rate when Richie Barker arrived last month.

But the manager’s hard work is slowly starting to bear fruit.

A goalless draw at Oxford would not have excited any neutrals present at the Kassam Stadium, but it was Pompey’s third clean sheet in the last four games.

And Barker is pleased with how solid his side have looked in that period.

The Blues boss said: “I don’t think they’ll be selling too many DVDs of that game – it wasn’t the most attractive.

“The best chance of either side scoring was from a set-piece because of some excellent deliveries and the fact there wasn’t a great deal happening in open play.

“But at times it’s our job to grind out results, be more difficult to beat and make sure we do the right things.

“I inherited a side that had the worst defensive record in the whole Football League and we had to start somewhere.

“You can’t keep expecting to concede one, two or even three goals each week and score four.

“We’ve now kept three clean sheets in four games and only lost one of them. I was pleased with the attitude of the players because we didn’t roll over.

“I was happy with their desire, work-rate and ability to do the things that aren’t as pretty. We can then move on once we’ve got the basics right.”

Barker handed a debut to three players at the Kassam Stadium, with Daniel Alfei at right-back, Nicky Shorey in midfield and Ryan Taylor up front.

He said: “I thought Daniel was excellent. He’s a quiet lad, but he just gets on with things and dealt with whatever was thrown at him.

“We brought Nicky in because of his experience and the fact he can play in more than one position.

“I thought he’d be a calming influence in midfield and Marcos did well at left-back, so it was a good decision.

“I’m sure the goals will come for Ryan. We were down to one wide player, so couldn’t be as creative as we wanted, but I thought what he did do was fairly effective.”

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