Guy seeks right balance for away days

Guy Whittingham will once more send his side out with instructions to express themselves away from Fratton Park tomorrow.

But the Blues boss has acknowledged he must also pinpoint a defensive balance to prevent a repeat of the York debacle at Plymouth.

Pompey boss Guy Whittingham Picture: Ste Jones

Pompey boss Guy Whittingham Picture: Ste Jones

Only Oxford have scored more goals on their travels in League Two this season than Whittingham’s men.

Pompey have netted twice in all of their five league away matches so far, with the most recent being the 4-2 hammering at Bootham Crescent.

They also won 2-1 at Oxford on Tuesday night to progress to the area quarter-finals of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

The free-scoring nature of the Blues on the road ensures they head to Home Park confident of finding the back of the net against a side who have lost four of their past five games.

But Whittingham is well aware they cannot leave themselves open as they did against York.

He said: ‘We are a side who can score goals and, hopefully, are beginning to make sure the other side of it is improved as well.

‘I suppose, traditionally, the away side doesn’t score too many away from home.

‘I think it’s a lot to do with teams coming away and trying to play a little bit more reserved and not be so attack-minded.

‘But we believe we have good players.

‘They are told “go and express yourself” and that’s the balance you are trying to find between that and leaving yourself open that you can be attacked.

‘We have good players who can cause problems.

‘We recruited them to make sure we caused teams problems when we go away.

‘Although you want your home form to be good, away games are crucial if you want to be successful.

‘We can play a little bit on the counter.

‘You look at Jed Wallace, Andy Barcham and Ricky Holmes – then there is Patrick Agyemang who can hold the ball up to allow people to come up. Also, John Marquis has come in and run his socks off for us.

‘We have that threat in the side and that is because the players are encouraged to go and score goals.

‘We have to try to score goals to win games and entertain people as well. There is nothing better than scoring a goal and getting everyone on their feet.’

Inevitably, memories of Pompey’s last league away fixture refuse to go away.

Since York, Whittingham’s side have won twice, conceding once in the process.

And he’s looking for that improved defensive mettle to remain for Plymouth.

He added: ‘In terms of shutting up shop, it has changed a little bit over the last couple of weeks after that York game.

‘That is the balance we have to find – how much you leave yourself open going forward.

‘The game brought it home how we were exposed too easily, purely because we didn’t work hard.’