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Cherries: Patience was key to Pompey victory says boss Howe
Goals from Lewis Grabban and Marc Pugh – in front of a season’s-best crowd of 9,135 at Dean Court –saw Cherries move to within one point of the League One summit.
Leading goalscorer Grabban broke the deadlock midway through the second half when he took his tally for the season to 13 with another composed finish.
And Pugh sealed Cherries’ fourth win in succession when he killed off stubborn Pompey with a finely-taken eighth goal of the campaign 13 minutes from time.
The visitors, who fielded new signings Therry Racon, Patrick Agyemang and John Akinde, defended in numbers for long periods during a game of few chances.
Cherries boss Howe said: “It was the game we had expected and the one we had prepared for all week. Despite that, it was very difficult to break down Portsmouth and they were very well organised. They had added a bit of experience and that played a big part in making them so resolute.
“Full credit to them for how difficult they made it for us. We needed patience and we needed the crowd to understand what we were playing against and I felt they did. They stuck with the players and, thankfully, we saw out the game in the end.
“Hopefully, the crowd can see what we are trying to do. We have got really good footballers in the team and are trying to play a certain way. We want to be progressive, create chances and score goals. But teams are going to try to stop you and that is their right.
“They will do whatever they can to try to combat our style of play. Portsmouth sat deep and six of their players didn’t move from protecting their goal. At times, perhaps we chose the wrong option in the final third and probably didn’t put enough balls into the box in the first half. We tried to rectify that in the second half and, thankfully, we won the game.”
Pompey’s attempts to stifle Cherries paid off during a largely uneventful first half as they became the latest team to try to nullify Howe’s free-scoring side and then catch them on the break.
“I think that has been the tone for a while,” said Howe. “I don’t think it was just Portsmouth. A lot of teams have done it to us and I am sure plenty more will. At the moment, we are finding ways to win games and that is really pleasing.
“Any team you play is always going to get chances. As much as you would like, you can’t dominate for 90 minutes. It was pleasing to come out with a clean sheet. They had a couple of chances, a couple of scary moments but that was always going to be the case. We always felt we had enough match winners in the team to score goals and so it proved.”