No one has impressed more than midfielder as Portsmouth defence answer questions over change

Pompey writer Jordan Cross gives the final verdict on the weekend win over Tranmere after an afternoon in which Hollywood star Will Ferrell saw Kenny Jackett’s side impress.

Monday, 12th August 2019, 11:48 am
Updated Monday, 19th August 2019, 10:55 am
Tom Naylor is in dominant form for Pompey. Picture: Barry Zee

Pompey’s Anchorman

The tweet from the betting company said it brilliantly.

‘Must be an unusual feeling watching Tom Naylor and realising you’re only the second best anchorman at the ground,’ they said of Pompey’s Hollywood guest Will Ferrell.

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And there would’ve been no argument from the man who part-owns MLS side Los Angeles FC.

Wearing the captain’s armband, Naylor was once again immense in the holding role as Kenny Jackett continued with the 4-3-3 formation he switched to against Birmingham last week.

It was the insurance offered by the 28-year-old which allowed Ben Close and Andy Cannon to roam forward so effectively.

Naylor was constantly there to put a foot in, break up play and deny the visitors the room to build any momentum.

And going in the other direction, the former Burton Albion did much to promote Pompey’s positive football by getting moves going – topping his afternoon with the key second goal.

Naylor has now started three games this term and his level of performance in all of them has seen him build on a strong maiden season at Fratton Park.

In fact, no one has done a better job for their team at this formative stage of the season.

Defence stay classy

One world-class goal conceded in the opening three game speaks of a Pompey defence starting the season impressively.

A wonder strike looked the only way they would be breached at Shrewsbury, and so it proved. But that disappointment has now been followed up with two shut-outs on the bounce.

The losses of Matt Clarke and Nathan Thompson raised questions over whether their exits would hurt Kenny Jackett’s side.

But Paul Downing has quickly established himself as a leader at the back and now appears to be developing a decent understanding with Christian Burgess.

With Sean Raggett waiting in the wings, the pair know they can ill-afford to let standards drop.

Lee Brown continues his impressive form at left-back, with the 29-year-old now setting the bar high with his form to date.

Anton Walkes’ level has been more variable, but there was still a number of examples of important defending from the right-back on Saturday.

And behind them, of course, is Craig MacGillivray who must now be wondering what else he has to do to get an international call from Scotland.

Team selection is kind of a big deal

The man himself was more circumspect in his assessment of the decisions he had to make over who would start against Tranmere.

‘I don’t think there are necessarily dilemmas,’ he said of his call over how his side would line-up.

In the end, it was pretty straightforward as Jackett chose not change a winning formula and stick with those who shone against Birmingham.

He was rewarded with shining displays from the players who came into the team in mid-week with Ben Close and Andy Cannon both once again excellent.

Ellis Harrison grafted in what is fast becoming trademark fashion before being pulled at half-time for John Marquis.

But with Pompey’s marquee signing on the bench along with Gareth Evans and Ross McCrorie, there’s another interesting selection on the horizon at Sunderland.

It’s the kind of issue the Pompey boss has created to deal with the challenges a nine-month season offers, however. His squad has the look of one built for a promotion push as a result.