Guy pleased as ‘old Pompey’ return

Welcome return: Guy Whittingham   Picture: Joe Pepler
Welcome return: Guy Whittingham Picture: Joe Pepler

Guy Whittingham feels the old Pompey are back after seeing his side’s latest show of character.

The Blues ground out a courageous point at Preston as they grabbed a 1-1 draw, despite being bombarded for much of the game.

Jed Wallace’s third-minute opener appeared to be sending Pompey to victory at Deepdale, only for Keith Keane to fire in an equaliser for the home side 13 minutes from time.

But this Blues side are a world away from the team that would easily crumble to defeat during Whittingham’s early period in charge as caretaker manager.

And he believes his players are now a far better representation of Pompey’s proud history.

Whittingham explained: ‘If anyone looks back at the game away at Bury back in November, we got bullied in that game by a side who were down at the bottom of the league at the time.

‘This team would not let that happen to them.

‘It’s very pleasing to see that. They are players who will stand up and be counted when things are going against them.

‘That is a hallmark of this club.

‘That’s what we have been trying to create since we came in. We knew what we wanted to do and it is coming to fruition.

‘Managers sometimes take a bit more satisfaction out of a game like yesterday, rather than a game where you play free-flowing football and everything goes perfectly.

‘Everybody battled for each other and you see a team out there now fighting for the same cause.’

Whittingham and assistant Andy Awford deserve plenty of credit for the way they have instilled the Pompey mentality into a collection of players who have been team-mates for only a matter of weeks.

And he pointed to the courageous work of his defence and goalkeeper who stood up to waves of Preston attacks.

Whittingham said: ‘Gabor (Gyepes) and Ricardo (Rocha) headed a lot of balls out of our box and Sam Sodje has done the same thing when he has played.

‘We’ve got three senior centre-backs there who don’t mind doing that and putting their head in the way of things.

‘When you are a player and you see your other mates doing that, it means you can show what you are good at as well. It just encourages everyone.

‘And I thought Simon Eastwood was excellent. He collected so many crosses and made saves when he had to do that for us.’

While Whittingham played down the change in Pompey’s fortunes, he is looking for more improvement at home to Tranmere on Easter Monday.

He said: ‘It’s just about making sure that players know what each of them has to do.

‘That takes time to happen. They have improved but we’ll be looking to show that again on Monday against Tranmere.’