Striker taking heart from spirited performance
City striker Tom Nichols was disappointed that the Grecians came away empty-handed following a 3-2 defeat at St James Park, but felt that they could take some heart from a spirited fightback.
Nichols was introduced in the closing stages for his first appearance of the season, and with the way the tide was swinging – as the Grecians were rattling at the door for an equaliser – the youngster felt that the final whistle came just a bit too soon for City.
“If the game had gone on ten minutes longer, I think we could have won it,” said Nichols.
“You could tell that Portsmouth were hanging on by the groans that went around the stadium when it was announced there was six minutes of stoppage time.
“I think as a team we reacted well to going three-nil down. We’re disappointed that we didn’t manage to get the points, but I think there are a lot of positives that we can take from the game.”
As City pressed for an equaliser, one of the golden opportunities to get level in the final throes came to Nichols as he made fine contact to head Craig Woodman’s cross on target, only to be denied by a superb save by Trevor Carson at the bottom corner.
“Scoring with that header would have capped a good week for me, after the two goals at Crystal Palace,” he continued.
“I made a good connection and I thought it was in. I don’t think there was much more I could have done though, because I directed it well and got plenty of power behind it. When I came on, I knew I was going to get a chance so I’m disappointed that it didn’t go in.”
The striker has been finding the net with regularity when given opportunities, including four goals in two games so far in the Under-21 Premier League Cup.
But Nichols accepts that scoring goals is not the only thing he needs to bring to the table if he is going to stake his claim for a first-team place – and his all-round forward play was one of the most impressive parts of his contribution.
“I’m not going to get into the team because of my finishing alone,” he continued. “Paul wants me to work on other parts of my games and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing.
“The coaches and the other strikers have been working with me to develop my game and work on my weaknesses – I felt like my hold-up play today was good, and I didn’t give the ball away so I’m pleased with that.
“I know I can put the ball in the net and I know I can take chances when they come, so I’ve got to keep working on the rest of my game.”