Bravery of Pompey keeper is key

Ben Chorley praised Paul Jones
Ben Chorley praised Paul Jones

Paul Jones’ bravery has been pinpointed as the key to Pompey’s defensive solidity.

Blues captain Ben Chorley has lauded the keeper after an outstanding display in the 1-0 win at Oxford.

Jones made a series of fine stops to repel the U’s and keep up his team’s flying start to the campaign.

That made it three clean sheets out of four for his side, with two goals conceded in the first five games.

Oxford had periods of concerted pressure at the Kassam Stadium.

But Jones wasn’t found wanting, as he continually came for – and claimed – dangerous balls into the box.

Chorley explained he has played with few keepers who are willing to do that.

He said: ‘I don’t mind if Paul drops one or two because when he comes and puts himself on offer you can’t beat that.

‘He’s come and caught four or five in the first half.

‘He was tremendous and we’ve told him that. He knows that.

‘To play in front of someone who is very calm, like he is, is brilliant.

‘He is quiet around the training ground but he comes alive on the pitch.

‘I’ve probably played with 20 to 25 keepers and there’s been maybe two or three who really come for crosses.

‘Because they don’t have to and don’t have to put themselves on offer, they are happy to stay on the line.

‘Paul smashed me at one stage, took me out, and then volleyed one.

‘I’ll take that because he puts himself on offer.

‘I like someone who puts themselves out there to be shot down.

‘If he’s coming, he’s coming.’

Pompey had to weather a late onslaught from Oxford after Craig Westcarr made the breakthrough with 10 minutes to go.

But the back three of Chorley, Joe Devera and Paul Robinson showed all their resilience to repel the U’s.

They looked assured as they went about their business and the Blues captain stated he felt confident they would keep out the home side.

He said: ‘When they were pumping balls in the box, they are coming into players who have dealt with them their whole career.

‘I felt fairly comfortable.

‘Peterborough did it and Northampton did it to a degree.

‘All three of us enjoy putting our head in defending and it is going well at the moment.’

Andy Awford again went with the wing-back system against Oxford – the third time in five games he’s done that.

Chorley believes Pompey have the players to make the 3-5-2 formation work. And having three players in the middle of the park is allowing his side to dominate rivals.

Chorley said: ‘I’ve done it a few times and you have to be brave as a manager to play it.

‘If it’s working, you should control the game. You have that extra player in midfield.

‘If you’ve got the ball, it doesn’t matter if you have two at the back. Barcelona proved that.

‘We are working hard on it on the training pitch every day to implement.

‘It’s early days but we are second in the league and it’s going okay.

‘We have to keep chugging on.’