Michael Doyle: The importance of Pompey drawing first blood

Pompey skipper Michael Doyle Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey skipper Michael Doyle Picture: Joe Pepler
Tareiq Holmes-Dennis picked up his knee injury on the opening day of the season against Rochdale

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  • Pompey have scored first just once in their opening six League Two matches at home
  • Paul Cook’s men did break the deadlock in the Capital One Cup fixtures with Derby and Reading
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Their Fratton Park dominance is not in question, neither can be the superiority in pure footballing terms.

Yet Michael Doyle believes Pompey’s inability to produce the first telling punch is hampering home results as Paul Cook’s men seek the elusive knock-out blow.

Gareth Evans scores the opener against Dagenham & Redbridge on the first day of the season Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Evans scores the opener against Dagenham & Redbridge on the first day of the season Picture: Joe Pepler

Yeovil became the sixth side to visit the south coast in League Two this season – and the fourth to escape without defeat.

What’s more, in all Fratton Park league encounters so far, the Blues have scored the first goal only once.

That arrived in the 3-0 victory over Dagenham & Redbridge on the opening day of the campaign, when Kyle Bennett netted twice.

Yet it was Gareth Evans who broke the deadlock in the 51st minute, heading home Bennett’s left-wing corner.

Considering the way they set up so negatively, would they come out and play the same way when 1-0 down?

Michael Doyle

Since then Pompey have failed to score first in the subsequent five league encounters at home as they have struggled to break down sides with little attracting ambition.

On Saturday, Cook’s side were held to a frustrating goalless draw by struggling Yeovil.

And skipper Doyle is convinced the key to breaking down defensive resilience would be grabbing the first goal.

He said: ‘In the second half it felt like we created a lot of chances and got a lot of great balls into the box, but we didn’t manage to get on the end of them.

‘We couldn’t break down Yeovil and that is why it will be great when eventually we do start scoring in the first half and get an early goal.

‘That would mean the onus would be on teams to come out and play – and it will be interesting to see what they do.

‘Considering the way they set up so negatively, would they come out and play the same way when 1-0 down?

‘That is the frustrating thing, we are not getting the first goal to try to make them come out and play

‘Of course, if we score in the last minute who is going to care as long as we win?

‘But getting the first goal in these games is important if we want to stop teams getting so many players behind the ball.’

After Dagenham’s destruction, Morecambe visited Fratton Park and netted first as they raced into a 3-0 lead after 38 minutes.

However, Cook’s men fought back to claim a last-gasp point through Jayden Stockley’s injury-time leveller.

Next up was a goalless draw against Accrington Stanley, although Pompey did defeat Barnet 3-1 in their fourth home league game of the campaign.

Even so, the hosts had initially fallen behind to Andy Yiadom’s 25th-minute opener in front of the Milton end.

Then when Exeter visited last week, they broke the deadlock through David Wheeler in the 20th minute, before running out 2-1 winners.

Finally, Yeovil were the visitors on Saturday and produced a gutsy rearguard action to keep Pompey at bay.

The Blues did, however, net first in home Capital One Cup games against Derby and Reading in August.

Yet in league fixtures at Fratton Park it has been an entirely different story.