Steven Schumacher Portsmouth

Schumacher's Portsmouth Reaction

Sync Fixtures

It was clear that a third straight 2-2 draw at Fratton Park against Portsmouth frustrated Argyle manager Steven Schumacher, but there were many aspects of the Pilgrims’ performance that buoyed the boss.

Argyle trailed to Josh Koroma’s goal near the end of the first half, but a series of tactical switches and substitutions seemed to pay off for Schumacher, and thanks to an own-goal forced by a Bali Mumba cross, Argyle drew level. They led a few minutes later when Niall Ennis scored following a slick passing move, and another three points on the road looked on.

However, following an off-the-ball incident that saw Brendan Galloway sent off, Argyle conceded from a long throw-in deep into injury time.

The scoreline echoed last season’s visit to Pompey, in which the scoring sequence was identical, including the last-ditch leveller. In the previous season, Argyle had been 2-0 in front before two late goals salvaged Portsmouth a point.

“It’s déjà vu on déjà vu,” said Schumacher.  It’s not a nice feeling to concede again in the 95th minute, but it’s a bit different to the other two. We’ve had to dig in today and show good character. We weren’t at our best with the ball but that’s credit to Portsmouth, the way they press, the way they get after you. They’re the best in the league at it, so far, on the data.

“The character, and the response we got, was brilliant. I don’t think we played poorly, but I thought Portsmouth played well. They’ve been doing that all season. They are unbeaten for a reason. They are in good form, we had to grind it out and dig in when it wasn’t going our way.

“It was a tough game. We had to show real character and resilience to get back into it and go 2-1 up. The second goal in particular was a brilliant goal. Unfortunately, with a ball bouncing around our box, they are lucky to get on the end of it and it’s gone in.

“A little bit of indiscipline from us with the red card, that should have been avoided, and then the goal might not have gone in because we would have had more players on the pitch to deal with it.

“These are unbeaten. We wanted to be the first to take that scalp – we were a minute away from doing it. I’m pleased with that. Before the game, away from home, a top of the table clash it is important to not get beat. A point is a good result before the game, but the way it panned out, we thought we would have had enough to see it out.”

Schumacher set out his team at the beginning of the afternoon win a 3-5-2 formation, tweaked the same personnel into a 3-4-3, and then after a series of substitutions, including switching Bali Mumba from left wing-back to right-back, went to a 4-4-2 to mirror Portsmouth.

The changes worked, especially the goal involvements of Mumba and substitute Ennis, and when asked on Argyle TV after the match, Schumacher explained the thought process behind the developments.

He said: “We felt that in the first half we didn’t pass the ball really well, we kept giving the ball away. We got into good positions on the edge of their box and didn’t quite have an end product. Then they counter-attacked on us and showed their quality with the speed they have got at the top end of the pitch. I wanted us to look after the ball a bit better in the second half and be a bit more positive with it, which I felt that we were.

“The substitutions were to get fresh legs and energy on the pitch, and get us a platform to get us up the pitch more. We scored a goal from putting Bali on the right, he’s crossed it and it ends up being an own goal for the first one. For the second one, it was exactly what we spoke about at half-time, to be confident and play through their pressing. We cut right through the middle of them, and scored.

“They are really good signs with the lads coming off the bench and the changes of shape we are dealing with.

“I thought it was a good game. They probably had the first 25 or 30 minutes, we got back into it when we changed shape. It was a top end of League One, exciting game. Loads for people to talk about, loads to write about, but the overall feeling is that we haven’t been beaten, it’s another positive result away from home, let’s move on to the next one and look forward to it.”

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