Gareth Evans playing better than ever for Pompey

Pompey midfielder Gareth Evans   Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey midfielder Gareth Evans Picture: Joe Pepler

League Two’s player of the month demonstrated why the honour had been bestowed upon him.

And Leam Richardson believes the tireless midfielder is playing better than ever for Pompey.

Gareth Evans returned to the Pompey line-up against Ipswich last night having been rested for the previous Portman Road encounter.

He subsequently helped inspire Paul Cook’s side to an FA Cup upset by eliminating the Tractor Boys 2-1.

Gary Roberts had opened the scoring on 32 minutes after converting the penalty he had won.

Yet the second goal truly stood out when Marc McNulty headed home Evans’ sublime deep cross from the right.

It was another telling contribution from the 27-year-old, who netted three times in December.

And the former Fleetwood man’s displays keep on impressing Pompey’s assistant manager.

Richardson said: ‘Gareth was left out at Ipswich for the first match for other reasons because we are quite keen on a good dressing room and the manager is quite keen to keep everybody fit and happy.

‘It’s a tough job for him on a daily basis, he tries to look after everybody and that was part and parcel of it for Gareth.

‘He is one of those who is playing very well, certainly not just in possession.

‘If you watch Gareth’s work out of possession that is one of the big reasons why we are doing well and one of the reasons he is playing well.

‘He gives you that balance, the penetration, the defensive side of the game. He also gives you a goal threat, in both boxes he is a threat.

‘He certainly deserves that player of the month honour for me.

‘Working with him Monday to Friday and seeing him perform on a Saturday, I think over the last couple of months he has performed very well and to a good standard.’

McNulty’s finish was his seventh goal in 13 matches for Pompey during a loan spell which has now been extended until the season’s end.

The striker afterwards admitted he could have helped himself to a hat-trick after being thwarted by keeper Bartosz Bialkowksi in either half.

Regardless, the Blues have now booked themselves a fourth-round home clash with Bournemouth at the end of the month. And for Richardson, it was the McNulty goal which really stood out from a memorable night at Fratton Park.

He added: ‘It was fantastic from Evans to use his so-called weak foot to put it on the money like that.

‘With Sparky’s movement it just said goal as soon as he put it in.

‘If you have a striker like that in the box who works and is as bright as Sparky, you have got a chance.

‘And credit to Gareth also for such a wonderful delivery.’