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Portsmouth boss backs 'brilliant' Bazunu to recover from Rotherham error

A mistake from the Ireland goalkeeper helped Rotherham regain the lead in yesterday’s game.

Portsmouth goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu (file pic).
Portsmouth goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu (file pic).
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

PORTSMOUTH MANAGER DANNY Cowley has refused to blame an uncharacteristic Gavin Bazunu error for his side’s defeat to Rotherham United.

The Ireland goalkeeper, who has impressed since joining Pompey on a season-long loan from Manchester City, made a rare mistake that allowed the home side to regain the lead in the League One encounter.

A week after he marked his eighth senior international cap with a clean sheet in the win over Azerbaijan, Bazunu was back on club duty at Rotherham’s New York Stadium yesterday.

The sides were level at 1-1 in the 56th minute when the 19-year-old spilled a speculative long-range effort from Ollie Rathbone, which allowed Michael Smith to score his second.

The goal seemed to be the catalyst for a Portsmouth implosion, as Rotherham netted twice more in the six minutes that followed to boost their promotion bid with a 4-1 victory.

While acknowledging that Bazunu was at fault for Rotherham’s second goal, the manner in which his team reacted to it was a much bigger source of Cowley’s frustration.

The Portsmouth boss told reporters: “Gavin is a young player, goalies will make mistakes no matter what age they are. He’s been brilliant for us. He makes a mistake, but it is the response off the back of it that is disappointing for me.

“I just thought we went under. We didn’t show anywhere near the durability and the resilience you need to show in that moment of disappointment. It wasn’t our time to score but a bad time to concede, but these things will happen. You have to overcome this.”

Asked for his views on Bazunu’s role in the goal, Cowley said: “I just think it is a shot from distance that was really easy for Gavin to claim. He might have just misread it, he might have been looking to catch it and then counter too quickly. I don’t know, I’d have to ask him.

“We obviously, like always, go through it in forensic detail. He then thought he got away with it, it bounced around the box but we didn’t, they scored.

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“I don’t want to get fixated on that because that isn’t the reason we lost. The reason we lost was our response after conceding that goal.”

Bazunu, who kept four clean sheets in his previous 10 appearances for Portsmouth, also aided his development last season by playing 32 games while on loan at Rochdale.

“He’s been excellent,” Cowley added of the former Shamrock Rovers youngster. “Good team-mates dig their mates out of difficult moments. When you make a mistake, you are hoping that they are going to go and respond for him but we weren’t able to find the inspiration to do that.

“He’s a boy who is incredibly focused, very, very professional, has got an unbelievable mindset and he made a mistake. He’ll get over it. He is a tough boy and he’s on a pathway to success, there is absolutely no doubt about that.”

Portsmouth, having won just one of their last nine games, sit in 12th place in League One.

About the author:

Paul Dollery

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