A selection shortfall for Portsmouth lacking attacking potency

Pompey writer Jordan Cross takes a final look at the Blackpool defeat and what we learnt from a disappointing afternoon.

By The Newsroom
Monday, 14th January 2019, 10:49 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th January 2019, 9:06 am
Gareth Evans was used as a holding midfielder against Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler
Gareth Evans was used as a holding midfielder against Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler

Selection Shortfall

Kenny Jackett's honesty in his assessment of games is unrelenting.

So it was no surprise to hear an open and forthright analysis of why it went wrong against Blackpool from the Pompey boss.

Gareth Evans was used as a holding midfielder against Shrewsbury. Picture: Joe Pepler

The focus was on the manner in which he chose to fill the void left by Ben Thompson's return to Millwall.

Jackett opted to use Andre Green in a central attacking role behind Brett Pitman, with Gareth Evans utilised deeper in the space vacated by Thompson.

It didn't work.

Jackett's thinking on the approach was framed by Green's impressive 34-minute goalscoring cameo at Norwich and Evans looking comfortable in the holding role against Southend last week.

Green's frustration was evident when he was withdrawn for Andy Cannon in the 64th minute. The Aston Villa loanee didn't need telling it was an opportunity passed up.

And Thompson's bite was missed as Evans appeared ill-at-ease, while his energy further up the pitch was absent.

On the evidence of the previous two games the selection was the logical approach to take, but, on this occasion, it didn't come off.


Attacking Impotency

It took until the 65th minute for Pompey to muster a shot of any description.

Andy Cannon's effort over the bar after entering the fray against Blackpool was nothing to write home about either.

Then came a first effort on goal from the Blues - five minutes from time - from Brett Pitman's header.

Those two stats revealed all you needed to know about the attacking impotency of Kenny Jackett's side on Saturday.

Much of the success this season has surrounded the impact of deep-lying attacking threat behind Oli Hawkins.

Yet, it took defensive midfielder Tom Naylor to be the man to get beyond Pitman for the first time - three minutes after the game's restart.

Pitman couldn't be blamed as he toiled away with a lack of quality in his side's delivery from wide areas.

Pompey rarely hit the byline and delivered with any accuracy, with deeper angled crosses easily mopped up by a dominant Blackpool central partnership.

He's faced his share of fan flak this term, but Hawkins' presence was clearly missed. A fact acknowledged by many of his detractors.


Bryn Boost

On a day when there were few positives for Pompey, the confirmed arrival of Bryn Morris provided a much-needed boost.

It was probably no coincidence Kenny Jackett chose to confirm the midfielder's arrival from Shrewsbury in the wake of defeat.

That led to some positivity being relayed to supporters who needed something to lift the spirits after the disappointing display from their side.

Morris' bite and range of passing will certainly be needed with big boots to fill in the wake of Ben Thompson's return to Millwall.

Jackett hasn't ruled out Thompson returning, too, if his parent club choose to send him out on loan again over the second half of the season.

Evans probably won't be pushing to continue in the role after Saturday's defeat.

Andy Cannon's cameo was a rare positive on a day to forget.

But it Morris' arrival which gave the biggest boost on a bleak winter's afternoon.