Date: 25th August 2010 at 8:32am
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I must say that in the 1st half of the league cup game against Palace, as we have for much of the season, we just did not ‘really’ look at the races – although the 2nd half onwards there was a marked improvement, to a point where we dominated extra time, albeit against 10-men.

Steve Cotterill, as he told The Pompey Site, has since revealed that it was watching from the directors box in that 1st half to give him a different view and this enabled him to see what was going wrong, and he told them at half time: ‘I had a good sit up there and look at them.

‘There was a fear of failure. We looked light on confidence. They weren’t doing the things I see them do every day in training.

‘So at half-time I told them to forget that and to express themselves. I reminded them that they were good players – and that they had to show the people who pay their wages that they were good players.

‘It wasn’t a pop at anyone. I was just saying ‘come on’. I’m with them through thick and thin.’

As said already this certainly worked as we looked an almost different side, you could almost see the belief coming into the play and this only grew after our goal, the equaliser set us back a little, but only a little mind.

Cotterill hopes, and thinks, that this win will also – as it should really – give us a boost: ‘and I think our attitude in the first 20 minutes of the second half won us the game because we got them on their back foot.

‘Palace were dangerous and brought a lot of fresh players into their team, while we’re on our heels as a football club. But the lads showed great character in the second half and in extra-time. We were dominant. The way we played will give us a real boost.’

No one seemed to want to win the penalty shootout, incidentally the first witnessed at Fratton so I am told, but eventually the chance fell to Richard Hughes and he scored.

Cotterill says that he ‘fancied’ him to score, in all honesty I cannot say I was as confident though! There was also praise for the fans who helped us to the win and he is looking for a home draw in round 3: ‘it was nice for Hughsie to score the winning penalty. He’s got a cool head. I fancied him to score when he walked up to take it.

‘The fans helped us through. There was no getting on anyone’s back. They were unbelievable. The more they do that the better it is for me as a manager.

‘It’s nice to win football matches. Hopefully now we’ll get a nice plum draw at home in the next round.’

In typical fashion Dave Nugent, scoring his first Fratton goal in 18-months, injured himself in scoring his goal, which was a quality one – I think Cotterill summed him up nicely, although he is now ‘doubtful’ for the weekend: ‘Nuge is not a great goalscorer, but a scorer of great goals, and that was a great goal he scored.

‘But he’s picked up an ankle injury that makes him a bit of a doubt for Cardiff.’

This was encouraging – I had said that I was looking for a big improvement on the Preston performance although whatever the result I would be happy if we got that.

We certainly did get that and the added bonus was we more than got the value for money from the £18 paid, as there was plenty of excitement, plenty of passion and we witnessed a dramatic penalty shootout, what more could we ask?

Now to build on this, although Cardiff will be a monster at the weekend…

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