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Dangling carrot remains

Dangling carrot remains

Ahead of the Checkatrade Trophy win over Northampton on Saturday Kenny Jackett said 'Wembley is the carrot' encouraging Pompey to maintain an interest in the much maligned competition.

Kenny Jackett had told 'Northampton have beaten us once already this season and, like us, will now be looking towards the latter stages of the competition. Wembley is the carrot for all of us and, while respecting the opposition, it's an opportunity for us to progress at home. We also want to keep some momentum going after a hard-fought victory in the league last weekend.'

Well, if nothing else, we gained a measure of revenge over Northampton with this win and do keep the 'momentum going' he wanted, so we'll take that.

As for the game itself, goals from Gareth Evans and Stuart O'Keefe secured a 2-0 win at Fratton Park.

This was a victory, played in front of a meagre 1,780, assistant boss Joe Gallen thought was warranted.

Commenting post match he told the News: 'I thought it was a very efficient performance from ourselves and very professional, we deserved to win the game. It is always the aim to start the game solid, not to concede goals or allow too many chances and that is how it panned out for us. I was a bit disappointed how just after half-time we gave away what I thought was a bit of a needless free-kick and that led to their best chance with the header from Taylor - and our keeper made a brilliant save.'

Adding: 'It is fair to say, though, we probably could have scored a few more, their keeper had quite a good day in the second half and had a spell for 30 seconds where we seemed to save three or four goal-bound shots. Obviously we will take the two goals we scored and move on.'

Now into the last 32, Pompey are just a handful of games from the Wembley final, which wouldn't be too much of an appeal to many, would it? In all honesty, something I'd made pretty clear from the minute the powers that be toyed with this competition, as much as I want the Blues to win - and hope those who come in for these games take their chances - I'll not go to the final if we make it.

However, one that's very much up for it is Nathan Thompson, who has told News he is focused on helping us go to Wembley.

'It's becoming more real, absolutely. The gaffer's team-talk was about the motivation of making it to Wembley. At the start of the competition when you have three games in the group stages it's slightly more tedious. The crowds and the atmosphere aren't there, so it can be harder to get going. So it shows character to pick up the wins we did.'

A wins a win, we'll take it but focus is now turning back to League One and the trip to Charlton at the weekend.

One who looks as if he'll miss that game at the Valley is Ben Close - the midfielder has picked up a thigh strain and Gallen feels he could miss the game on Saturday. In his absence Stuart O'Keefe returned to the side against Northampton so would be expected to keep his place?

Prior to the Northampton game, as much as Oli Hawkins 'was keen to play', better news was hoped for the striker, filling in as a makeshift central defender this season - Hawkins has been pencilled in for a return from his grade one hamstring tear in London.


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2017-18 Prediction League - December
Charlton (a) Saturday 9th December - click here.
Bury (h) Saturday 16th December 2017 - click here.
Shrewsbury (a) Saturday 23rd December 2017 - click here.
Wimbledon (h) Tuesday 26th December 2017 - click here.
Northampton (h) Saturday 30th December 2017 - click here.

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Date:Monday December 4 2017
Time: 9:45AM

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