Jordan Cross looks back on Pompey’s 1-0 win against Leyton Orient and assesses what we learnt from the game.
Benno turns boos to cheers
He’s found himself the target for boos from a section of Pompey supporters.
Quite why is mystifying when Kyle Bennett is as committed to the Blues’ cause as any of his team-mates.
It was uplifting then to hear Bennett’s name sung by the 1,328 travelling fans at Brisbane Road as he was withdrawn for Milan Lalkovic with nine minutes left on Saturday.
Bennett had just produced a performance full of positive running and vibrancy which warranted the ovation he received.
After starting just one of the previous seven league games, the 26-year-old, no doubt, would have felt he had a point to prove after his reintroduction to the starting XI.
From the outset, the attacking talent continually probed away at the Orient defence and had the confidence to try to open them up with his incisive running and forward passing.
It looked to the majority of Brisbane Road that’d he won a penalty when he went to ground when spinning Yvan Erichot after 30 minutes.
Referee Chris Sarginson thought otherwise, though, handing Bennett a yellow card – and it was a call which was backed by Paul Cook.
On a couple of occasions, slalom-like runs ended with shots which weren’t far from sneaking inside the post as a fine all-round display continued.
Cook has explained his decision to take Bennett out of his team as a kick up the backside of sorts.
If his performance on Saturday is anything to go by, it’s had the desired effect.
An Orient success
Much has been made of Pompey’s rickety defence in recent weeks.
And that’s been with some justification as the Blues have offered cause for concern with a string of preventable goals conceded.
So, the shut out at Leyton Orient has to go down as one of the most encouraging facets of Saturday’s win.
The clean sheet didn’t come without its concerning moments – particularly early on.
Some communication breakdowns were evident, along with a lack of conviction dealing with one or two necessary clearances.
But, as the game progressed, so did Pompey’s conviction on the back foot.
Most League Two managers would take Paul McCallum and Jay Simpson as their strike partnership.
It was an increasingly impotent pairing, and, with Orient’s attacking threat virtually non-existent in the second half, McCallum was withdrawn.
There were some strong blocks and timely interceptions to ensure the job was completed.
With Orient now failing to score in four games, it may have been the ideal place to begin rebuilding defensive confidence.
A tougher test is to come at Plymouth next Saturday – but it’s one Pompey’s backline will tackle with renewed confidence.
Paul Cook began making the point Pompey needed to exhibit more cutting edge at Leyton Orient.
The Blues boss then put the brakes on that chat, with the tone not the right one.
Cook wanted a positive interview to reflect a positive performance.
Still, he had a point when it came to his assessment on his team’s attacking effort.
Pompey dominated possession, had plenty of territory and carved out 17 shots to Leyton Orient’s seven on Saturday.
So, really, everyone who cared about the Blues’ win should’ve had a relaxing afternoon at Brisbane Road.
In the event, the single goal difference ensured that wasn’t quite the case – even if Orient’s attempt at a late rally was comfortably repelled.
Cook’s side need to show a more clinical air than was displayed in east London.
It was exhibited by Conor Chaplin when his harshly disallowed rapier-like finish was chalked off.
Chaplin needed to do better when teed up by Gary Roberts after Alex Cisak’s poor clearance, though.
Likewise, after a second-half stumble six yards out from Stevens’ cross.
Amine Linganzi’s totally free first-half header was a big miss, too.
Pompey will look to improve decision making in the final third with too many wasted passes and final balls - especially as they dominated after the break.
The profligacy factor gladly slips under the radar – but could’ve proved costly on other occasions.