Robins opener ‘rocked Pompey’s fragile confidence’

Swindon celebrate one of their five goals against Pompey     Picture: Sarah Standing
Swindon celebrate one of their five goals against Pompey Picture: Sarah Standing

Guy Whittingham admitted the snapping of Pompey’s fragile confidence opened the Swindon floodgates.

The out-of-form Blues slumped to a demoralising 5-0 defeat at the County Ground yesterday after conceding five goals in 22 second-half minutes.

Up until the hour mark, the visitors had played impressively – particularly during the first period, with some slick and fluid moves on show.

Such had been Robins boss Paolo Di Canio’s frustration at failing to get a foot-hold in the game, he had used all three of his substitutes with 60 minutes on the clock.

But it was the introduction of third replacement James Collins which turned the match on its head, as he broke the deadlock to instigate the Pompey capitulation.

It was mixed emotions for Whittingham, who had been delighted with how his side had performed up until that point, using a wing-back system.

And he conceded, with the Blues failing to win their previous 12 matches, that the Swindon breakthrough saw the confidence flood away from his side.

‘For the first 60 minutes the desire was there, for sure, and then the confidence just dipped,’ said Whittingham.

‘I think the first goal was a massive lift for Swindon. You could see the frustrations on the sidelines from them and it was spilling on to the pitch a little bit.

‘Suddenly you could see the belief spreading through their whole team and the crowd and that they could go on. I could not see them (scoring) from open play at that point.

‘When they got to four I thought that might have been it, but it was relentless and we lost all our discipline.

‘They were a mad 10 minutes – we just had to try to keep them out.

‘Up until that first goal I was really pleased with the discipline we showed and what the players took on board.

‘Since our defeat at home to Yeovil we had a lot of video analysis on the way Swindon play and had a good training session.

‘The players took it on board and it was really pleasing, because Swindon didn’t create anything outstanding.

‘They had a couple of efforts from crosses and Easty (Simon Eastwood) made a couple of saves from open play, but we had everything buttoned off.

‘That first goal changed everything, though.’

Missing injured skipper Brian Howard, Gabor Gyepes and Ricardo Rocha, while Paul Benson was unavailable, Pompey used Jon Harley and Mustapha Dumbuya in a wing-back formation.

Ashley Harris lined up in attack, with Scott Allan operating behind him – and there were some fine moments during the first half.

Shortly after the interval, Lee Williamson clipped the top of the crossbar with a free-kick – only for Swindon to then take control.

But Whittingham was disappointed with the lack of opportunities created, despite Pompey’s early encouraging play.

He added: ‘I would like to think we played well in the first half but playing good doesn’t get you anywhere.

‘There is plenty of good football needed in the final third. You also get set pieces in the final third to put on the pressure – but we are not doing it.

‘We said to the players that if we could get in between the lines, people like Scotty Allan, Ashley Harris and Liam Walker can do that.

‘But they did it without ever being ruthless or getting ourselves in good positions to get a good chance.’