Barker delight at response to Rovers low

Richie Barker fails to hide his frustrations at Bristol Rovers Picture: Joe Pepler
Richie Barker fails to hide his frustrations at Bristol Rovers Picture: Joe Pepler

The Memorial Stadium provided the backdrop for the bottom of the barrel being scraped.

For Richie Barker, that depressing low point could only be improved upon and, sure enough, his Pompey side have steadily lifted their game since.

It was a dreadful 2-0 defeat against Bristol Rovers in the manager’s second game in charge shortly before Christmas.

His post-match stinging attack on his team was particularly memorable and certainly applauded by many a disgruntled fan.

Yet since then the Blues have taken five points out of four matches, keeping three clean sheets in the process in the bid to stop the slide down the table.

It’s a competent rather than spectacular return.

Nonetheless, it has been a marked improvement from the period which ultimately saw Guy Whittingham lose his job before December.

Mansfield venture to Fratton Park tomorrow – a side in 17th spot who represent opposition Pompey must be beating to start climbing League Two.

And Barker has been pleased with the progress since the Pirates tore into his team.

He said: ‘Without setting ourselves up for a big, massive fall, I always like to ask Trevor (Carson) after a match how many saves he has made.

‘Certainly, in three out of the four games – even in the Southend match to a certain extent – the answer has been very few, if any.

‘The fact, hopefully, we have been limiting chances is better than the fact we have been keeping clean sheets.

‘I didn’t particularly enjoy that Bristol Rovers game – I didn’t enjoy the feeling, I didn’t enjoy the result, I didn’t enjoy watching the match.

‘In fact, there wasn’t really too many things I enjoyed about that particular day at all.

‘But I do think it epitomised what the problems were. I saw all the problems in 90 minutes and they were pretty much all answered.

‘Definitely, the only way was up from there.

‘I have noticed an improvement since in the work-rate and the effort of the players and, as a result, we have started to pick up points and get clean sheets.

‘Everybody talks about “You must be hard to break down, the back four must have done this and that if they don’t concede many goals”.

‘But I think there has been a better understanding and work-rate from people in front of them (the defence) as well as the back four.’

n Chichester Supporters’ Club are holding a quiz night next week.

The event is taking place at The Four Chestnuts, Oving Road, Chichester, on Thursday, January 23.

The quiz kicks off at 7.30pm. All are welcome to take part.

– NEIL ALLEN