Jeff Marshman looks back on Pompey’s home defeat to Exeter and assess the main talking points...
High time for Lowe
He was the only attacking spark for Pompey on a day to forget at Fratton Park on Saturday.
And the hope is that Jamal Lowe can be the Blues’ secret weapon in their push for promotion this season.
A half-hour cameo that arrived after the hosts fell behind to victorious Exeter allowed at least one positive to emerge from Saturday’s south coast sorrow.
Lowe must now be at the forefront of boss Paul Cook’s mind for this weekend’s highly-anticipated trip to fellow League Two promotion-chasers Wycombe.
Direct, pacy and fearless in the final third, the former Hampton & Richmond front man looks to be a great Pompey find.
Four times he has now donned the Blues shirt – twice as a substitute for the first team and twice as a starter for the reserves – and he has impressed on each occasion.
Four goals for Pompey’s second string has been complemented by a key role in the Blues’ League Two winner against Leyton Orient earlier this month, and yesterday’s star showing – albeit in defeat to the Grecians.
And with others around him seemingly flagging, the in-form 22-year-old has every right to be eyeing a maiden Pompey start at Adams Park on Saturday.
There’s not enough space/time to write in detail all of the things learnt from Saturday’s Exeter defeat – not that Pompey fans would want to read it all anyway.
Hopefully, then, bullet points will be an accepted form of critique as we try our best to put Saturday’s game behind us.
1 Gareth Evans still isn’t a right-back and looks far better in the attacking third of the pitch than defensively.
Caught out a couple of times on the counter-attack, he scored 10 goals for Pompey last season and is being wasted out of position.
He is giving his all in a new role but must privately be frustrated.
2 David Forde’s distribution needs improving – or he requires better options for a quick release.
Something needs improving so the Blues can launch quick counter-attacks and make the most of the best part of Forde’s game – his ability to snaffle the ball out of the air from corners or set plays.
On three separate occasions Pompey could have broken in numbers when the keeper had the ball in his hands, but each time they failed to do so which allowed Exeter to get back into shape.
3 Crossing needs work.
When you’re playing with two strikers, one of whom is 6ft 4in, the service into the box needs to be better.
One header aside from Michael Smith, the deliveries into Exeter’s box were far too comfortable for the Grecians’ defenders.
4 Smith has lost his confidence.
The rangy striker is doing his best for the cause, but he is not the man to fire the Blues out of this division.
For balance, fans’ favourite Conor Chaplin also had a poor game.
5 Opportunity missed.
Certainly, a phrase used a few times this season.
But Saturday really was a great chance for the Blues to make a statement in their automatic-promotion push.
Victory would have left them a point behind third-placed Carlisle – with a game in hand.
But against an organised and well-drilled Exeter side, they never looked like claiming a prized three-point haul.
Indeed, after the game, Cook conceded his side have a worrying knack of underperforming when it matters most.