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League Two

Beleaguered Richie Barker remains defiant

26 March 2014

Richie Barker remains defiant despite his struggling Portsmouth side having been comprehensively beaten 3-0 at league leaders Rochdale.

Matt Lund gave the home side the lead in the first half and second-half goals from Ian Henderson and Peter Vincenti wrapped up a comfortable win for Dale, their fourth victory on the bounce.

Barker admits keeping Portsmouth in the Football League is the biggest challenge he has faced - but insists he is not feeling the heat.

"If the board want to change manager, they will change manager - but it won't change the group of players at the club, they will still be the same," he said. "Sometimes clubs change manager and it does get a reaction, but that's up to the board. I know I'm not everybody's cup of tea.

"I'm not feeling under pressure, I've had far bigger issues in my life outside football than this.

"It is the toughest challenge of my career and it will continue to be so and if we succeed then it will be the biggest achievement of my career. If the players are not ready for the challenge then they are not at the right place."

The visitors started brightly enough with Bondz N'Gala having a header cleared off the line early on. But once Lund headed Dale ahead from close range, the home side were firmly in control.

George Donnelly fired into the side-netting and Lund headed Joe Rafferty's cross narrowly wide after the interval as Dale pushed for a second.

It arrived when Henderson capitalised on hesitancy in the Pompey backline, racing through to collect goalkeeper Josh Lillis' punt upfield before slamming a low drive wide of Trevor Carson in the 59th minute.

Vincenti headed home Matt Done's corner four minutes later to make the result safe and extend Dale's stay at the top of the table.

Not that Dale boss Keith Hill is paying too much attention to their position right now, calling on his high-flying side to stay focused in the run-in.

"I'm delighted with the result and the performance but you can't look too far in front of yourself in football - you have to have that tunnel vision, stay focused on the game we have got to play," he said.

"You shouldn't be affected by other results in the league. I thought we were excellent when you consider we had Scott Hogan, Peter Cavanagh, Ashley Eastham and Jack O'Connell out injured.

"It's testament to the squad and the belief that we have in each other that they can perform like that against what I consider a very good side, full of quality players, who are probably suffering from a lack of confidence.

"It was a very dangerous game for us, but I thought we managed the game very well."


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