Westcarr pinpoints possession as Pompey way forward

Craig Westcarr battles for possession against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler
Craig Westcarr battles for possession against AFC Wimbledon. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey’s play-off aspirations are slowly slipping from their grasp.

And Craig Westcarr is convinced failure to retain possession is prompting their downfall.

The Blues are presently 10 points adrift of the play-offs with a game in hand, admittedly not an unassailable gap to close.

Yet they have managed to win just three of their last 15 League Two encounters, a spell which has seen them sink down the table.

A gutsy, impressive showing at high-flying Luton in their last match has rightly bolstered confidence heading into Saturday’s trip to Newport County.

Regardless, Pompey’s inability to keep the ball has become noticeable in recent months, culminating in successive home defeats.

AFC Wimbledon enjoyed 52-per-cent possession at Fratton Park on Boxing Day as they departed with a 2-0 success.

In the previous home match, Accrington chalked up a 3-2 success with 51-per- cent possession.

For Westcarr, the current displays contrast with the early-season form which saw them second after four matches.

And he believes it is impacting on creating goal-scoring opportunities for Pompey strikers.

He said: ‘It’s about creating more chances and the most important way to achieve that is keeping the ball.

‘Let’s keep the ball and get the opposition running around. At the start of the season we kept it so well that for the last 20 minutes the opposition were shattered against us.

‘We have gone away from that slightly and probably play a different way to how we started (the season) off.

‘The crowd love players running around and working hard, well you can work as hard as you want but if you are running after the ball all game it stops you creating.

‘Wimbledon had more possession than us in our last match at Fratton Park and that’s what it’s all about for me, keeping the ball.

‘Hard work is a given. If you don’t work hard then you shouldn’t be playing football at the end of the day.

‘But at the minute we are not doing as well as we did in the early part of the season when we kept the ball a lot better.

‘We have to create a lot more chances and keep the ball to help the strikers. We need to put a lot more quality into the box and have to keep the ball better than we are.’

In terms of away matches, Pompey had 48-per-cent possession at Luton and dominated Cheltenham with 55-per-cent – both ended in 1-1 draws.

Although at Tranmere, Awford’s men managed a highly-disappointing 42-per- cent in a 3-1 defeat.

Regardless, Westcarr has six goals from 22 games.

He added: ‘It’s a different style for me and I have had to adapt to it. Whether it has suited me or not I have had to adapt, that’s how we want to play.

‘I will just get on with it to be honest.It’s a lot different to last year (at Walsall), but if I stood still and moaned, then I wouldn’t be in the team and wouldn’t be at this club.’