Jeff Marshman assesses Pompey’s 4-2 win against Wycombe and identifies three things were learnt from the game.
Going for the early kill
Pompey fans have got used to seeing their team surge forward in search of that late Fratton End winner.
Roaring their team on, it has been seen as something of a psychological boost and also a tradition to attack the home end of the stadium in the second half.
Until now, that is.
Such is the Blues’ desire to find an early breakthrough in games, they have adopted a new tactic – attacking their own fans from kick-off.
That was the directive to skipper Michael Doyle ahead of Saturday’s coin toss against Wycombe, which the Irishman promptly won to ensure a switch of ends.
For the Blues, it then ironically failed to bear fruit in the opening stages as they fell behind to the Chairboys inside 10 minutes.
But the response was terrific as Paul Cook’s side scored three times in the opening 45 minutes in front of the Fratton End for the second game running.
And the fact they enacted the switch was telling in itself.
Too many times last season opposing teams were allowed to settle into games at Fratton Park and frustrate the home side.
Not any more – it’s all go from the first whistle, with the re-energised Fratton faithful set to play a big role throughout this season in allowing Pompey to make the all-important first-half breakthrough.
It’s just like watching Brazil...and then Italy
Following on from my original observation in point No1, it’s a fine balancing act between going for glory and surrendering control of a game.
For Brazil, the traditional philosophy surrounds all-out attack, while the Italians favour ‘Catenaccio’, which translates roughly as defensive dominance.
Pompey on Saturday were somewhere in between the two.
Going forward, the Blues continued to impress.
Four goals from 17 shots underlines what most already know – this is a team which carries an immense attacking threat.
But while it is more than tempting to turn every single League Two contest into an end-to-end shootout, which is what the first half became, Wycombe highlighted that is not without it’s own perils.
Two well-taken goals from the visitors revealed some major defensive concerns that Paul Cook was quick to grill his players on at the interval.
But if Pompey were Brazil in the first half and the eight minutes after the restart before Carl Baker netted their fourth, they were Italy from there on out.
A highly-organised and effective defensive display took the sting out of the game as the Blues simply controlled the football.
Knowing when to go forward and when to sit back will be key to Pompey’s chances of promotion this term.
And if it means trading one half of Brazil for another of Italy to achieve it, then quite frankly I’m all for it!
Goal of the season is over - in September
Pompey fans learnt the club’s goal of the season contest is over already after one of the most memorable efforts in Fratton Park in recent years.
Just ask last term’s winner, Michael Doyle – and who can forget that volley at Accrington!
On the back page of today’s The News, Doyle waxed lyrical about Conor Chaplin’s wonderful solo effort that he believes has already secured the teenage talent this season’s prized gong.
And, honestly, it is hard to envisage any possible way the Blues skipper will be proved wrong.
This is a goal the Fratton faithful are going to enjoy seeing time and time again.
Introduced as a first-half substitute, Chaplin wasted little time in making his mark on the game.
With the score tied at 2-2 heading into first-half stoppage-time, the homegrown talent conjured a moment of magic.
Chasing after Gary Roberts’ through ball, Chaplin beat Anthony Stewart to the ball – flicking high over the Chairboys defender’s head.
With 6ft 6in keeper Jamal Blackman coming off his line to narrow the angle, it looked certain the Blues striker would attempt to control the ball in a bid to get a shot away from inside the area.
Instead, he stunned all 16,262 present inside Fratton Park by sending an instinctive first-time header over a stranded and bemused Blackman on its way into the back of the net.