Everything Robbie Blake said about Bognor Regis Town’s draw with Pompey – and why he’d love to see the Blues succeed

Bognor Regis Town coach Robbie Blake was a happy man after watching his Rocks hold League One Pompey in front of a Nyewood Lane crowd of more than 2,000.
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Blake – a former Pompey coach – was heartened by the way his team dug in to force a draw with their full-time visitors and had high praise for the Fratton Park bosses for sending a strong squad which ensured the ground was packed to give the Rocks a pre-season budget boost.

A header from a corner by one of four unnamed trialists secured the Rocks the draw after Joe Morrell had put Pompey ahead from the penalty spot – that after the Blues’ Liam Vincent had hit the post and Paddy Lane had seen a penalty saved by Ryan Hall.

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Here’s everything Blake had to say when we quizzed him after the game about the match, the way his squad was shaping up and Bognor’s close relationship with John Mousinho and Co.

Harvey Whyte gets stuck in for the Rocks against Pompey | Picture: Lyn PhillipsHarvey Whyte gets stuck in for the Rocks against Pompey | Picture: Lyn Phillips
Harvey Whyte gets stuck in for the Rocks against Pompey | Picture: Lyn Phillips

Blake said: “First and foremost we wanted to concentrate on ourselves and make sure we were doing things we wanted to implement in pre-season. In terms of the attitude, commitment and work-rate of the lads, it was great.

"You could see in the end Pompey’s fitness was telling a little bit. We kept the same team on and were running out of steam a little and they had quality. The lads dug in We gave away two sloppy penalties but it’s pre-season and these lads are young and they’re going to make mistakes and like I said to them after the game, it’s how you learn from them. Hopefullt they will.

"We kept on going to the end and got a lucky goal but you take them. But the most impotant thing genuinely is, while the result was great, fitness and getting more minutes into the players in terms of how we want to set up and play.

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"I thought we held our own in the first half. They had chances, we had a couple, but overall I was really pleased.

"I would say I’ve learned quite a lot from this game, good and bad. When you’re training and see things, it’s a lot different to game time. I think I have learned a lot and I think the players will have learned a lot, like the young lad at centre half who makes a mistake at the back.

"Those are the things that define whether you’re going to be a good player or not because you’d hope he doesn’t make the same mistakes when it comes round again. But I was pleased with the exercise.

"For Pompey to come down and John Mousinho and Jon Harley – I know Harls from playing with him at Burnley – they’re great lads. John, ever since he took the job, has been a breath of fresh air in terms of the way he has been with me and the football club.

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"He’s been very respectful and he understands and knows how big this game is for us. John will have got something out of this game too.

"The pitch was great. We tried to play, so did they. Pompey are just a week in and that was their first game really. I know they had a practice game in Spain last week but that probably wasn’t the real deal. This is a start now for them and that was a good workout for them. I’m pretty sure the players will have been happy with the surface.

"Even though we’re relatively early in our pre-season they are as well. I just like the way John Mousinho’s gone about his business and who he’s brought in at Pompey. He’s done it early so he can get them blending in and I really, really hope Portsmouth do well and I hope John does well because he’s one of the good guys in football.

"This game is massive for us and for us to have those numbers is great. For clubs like us, a game like this sets us up for nearly half the season and we can’t thank Richard Hughes, (Pompey sporting director), the board and John Mousinho enough for that – because they don’t have to do it, and they chose to do it and we’re really appreciative of it. It was great to have the numbers in and hopefully they’ve gone home having enjoyed a good game of football."

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Blake is happy with how his squad is coming together. “You always feel like you’re happy but you always want more. You always strive for better.

"I think we have a couple of areas to tighten up a little bit but in the main I’m really pleased with what we’ve brought in and with the application of the players so far – their attitude has been first class in pre-season.

"For our levels of fitness we look quite strong which is a plus and having Birmy (fitness coach Dave Birmingham) doing that is a massive plus for us.

"We’re relatively happy but we want more and feel we need to strengthen with a couple of players and hopefully between now and the start of the season we’ll bring some players in."

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Blake will give the current trialists further chances to impress him and earn deals. “I don’t think judging them on this Pompey game would be right because it’s not the level we’re at.

"We’ve got another tough game on Saturday at Worthing – which is a massive game for the club in terms of the intensity; it won’t be like a normal pre-season friendly. There will be a bit of an edge to it which is always good. And we’ll see whether they’re sinking or swimming, which is so important."

Ryan Hall caught the eye in goal for the Rocks and Blake said: “He was brilliant. He made some lovely saves. I think he can do better with his distribution and decision making at times but that will come with time because he’s only been with us for ten days and four or five sessions and we haven’t gone through everything we want to do. Overall I was very pleased with his performane.”

Blake said newly re-recruited striker Dan Smith – himself an ex Pompey academy player – was working his way up to full fitness. “He's training on the pitch.He’s still probably a week or two away from being involved but we’re pleased with his momentum and where he is. He’s going to be a big player for us and as quick as we can get him back, it will help the cause and help everybody. But what we don’t want to do is rush him and that become a problem.