Pompey 0 Rotherham 1: Neil Allen’s match report

Pompey beat Charlton to help get back on track and must continue to push on. Picture: Joe Pepler

Jackett: There can be no slacking from Pompey’s players

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It was unmistakably Kenny Jackett’s Pompey stamp, yet his overhaul yielded a Fratton Park defeat.

The Blues boss handed four debuts over the game’s duration, while he ripped up the 4-2-3-1 system so favoured by his predecessor Paul Cook.

Luke McGee is beaten by Rotherham's Jon Taylor. Picture: Joe Pepler

Luke McGee is beaten by Rotherham's Jon Taylor. Picture: Joe Pepler

Yet it was Rotherham who secured the 1-0 victory in front of the Sky Sports cameras at a sodden south coast.

Admittedly, Jackett’s employment of three at the back didn’t last beyond half-time, such was the disjointed performance it produced.

The Blues also found themselves behind at the interval to Jon Taylor’s excellent strike – and didn’t Paul Warne’s visitors deserve it.

The hosts did improve upon the reversion to four at the back, markedly during the second half, with Darren Potter clearing Oliver Hawkins’ header off the line.

Yet despite bossing the game during that period, the equaliser eluded Jackett’s men as they continued to pour forward.

It meant that Taylor’s contribution was enough to inflict a first Fratton Park since March 4, when Crewe were the victors.

No member of the Fratton faithful surely requires reminding about the run the team subsequently embarked upon.

In fairness, the showing against the Millers was certainly not in the same category as that day, while first glimpses of Stuart O’Keefe and substitute Matty Kennedy were extremely encouraging.

Nonetheless, Jackett has much to contemplate after his changes failed upon their first airing, while there were boos from some of the home supporters which accompanied the final whistle.

Pompey granted debuts to O’Keefe and Hawkins – the deadline-day signings were handed instant starts for the televised fixture against Jackett’s former club.

Fellow Thursday arrivals Kennedy and Damien McCrory were on the bench as Pompey’s manager made four changes and ripped up his system used so far this term.

There were four alterations to the side which drew 1-1 at Wigan last weekend, with fit-again Matt Clarke and Conor Chaplin recalled to the team.

Clarke took his place in a back three, alongside Jack Whatmough and Christian Burgess for a notable formation switch.

From the side which lined up at the DW Stadium, Dion Donohue, Danny Rose, Kyle Bennett dropped out, with the latter pair not even making the match-day squad.

Meanwhile, Gareth Evans was suspended following his sending off, so Jamal Lowe dropped back to fill in as a right wing-back.

When the match got underway, Taylor fouled Lowe down the right on seven minutes and Chaplin’s resulting free-kick was scrambled clear by Rotherham.

The Blues carved out their first opening on 11 minutes when Brett Pitman surged down the middle, using Lowe as a decoy down the right, before driving inside and firing a shot just over.

At the other end, Taylor cut the hosts open down the left and his ball found Lee Frecklington at the far post.

However, O’Keefe threw himself into a brilliant block challenge to thwart the Millers skipper’s shot.

The visitors were awarded the first corner of the game on 20 minutes, won by Kieffer Moore down the right, yet it petered out when he attempted playing it short.

Luke McGee was then drawn into his first save, diving forwards to comfortably collect Moore’s right-footed snap shot from the edge of the box.

Then Moore steered a header at McGee, followed by Will Vaulks’ effort from distance flicked off the head of Burgess for another corner.

On 28 minutes, an excellent Adam May interception launched a Pompey attack down the right and his cross was collected Brandon Haunstrup.

The full-back’s right-foot shot took a deflection and dribbled past the far post with Richard O’Donnell beaten, earning another Blues corner.

Hawkins then got involved in the action with a stinging right-foot shot from 35 yards which was inches wide from making the net. The deadlock was broken on 36 minutes through an excellent strike from Taylor.

Ex-Pompey man Ryan Williams’ pass was played down the right channel, with the midfielder racing onto it ahead of Burgess to unleash a first-time right-foot effort from the angle past the reach of McGee.

Just before half-time, Lowe should really have levelled when he headed Haunstrup’s pinpoint left-wing cross over the bar from six yards out.

Unsurprisingly, Pompey made two changes at the break, with Whatmough and Chaplin replaced by debutants Nathan Thompson and Kennedy, reverting to a flat back four.

The response was imminent as Kennedy flighted a cross from the left which had the keeper and his defender struggling to deal with.

The ball fell to Lowe, who took a touch before driving a right-foot shot across the face of goal and wide, albeit being awarded a corner in the process.

On 56 minutes, Kennedy clipped in a right-foot cross from the left and Hawkins received a boot to the face inside the box, but no penalty was awarded.

Then Potter steered Hawkins’ far-post header off the line on 65 minutes following May’s deep free-kick.

With 12 minutes remaining, an advancing Clarke put in a cross from the left which Lowe was agonisingly short of connecting with at the far post.

The hosts continued to push for a leveller, yet were struggling to carve out substantial opportunities against their retreating opposition.

With six minutes of time added on, there remained hope.

However, without a meaning attempt on goal from the hosts during that period, the Millers comfortably hung on.