Opening day shows up need for attacking Pompey additions

Pompey writer Jordan Cross looks back on Saturday's 1-0 win over Luton to see what was learnt from the opening day.

Monday, 6th August 2018, 1:30 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:18 pm
Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Andrew Fosker



Pompey Show Punch Resistance

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Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Andrew Fosker

If it was a championship fight the referee would've stepped in to wave off the contest.

Pompey were on the receiving end of a pummelling from Luton, one which increased in intensity throughout the match-up.

But fortunately the blows landed by the newly-promoted side were powder puff, and lacking in the conviction needed to land a knockout shot.

It was the defensive mastery of Kenny Jackett's men which proved crucial to victory, as they bobbed and weaved their way to success.

And the resolve of Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke was the major factor in doing so, as their stoic effort permeated through the team.

Whatmough put his body on the line as he showcased a hunger and basic determination to not let the ball past him.

Likewise, Clarke who continually had his head on the end of balls forward in a testing challenge with James Collins.

Jackett has focussed on the need for Pompey to avoid conceding the preventable goals which dogged them last season.

His side, at this formative stage, look set up to do that first and foremost with a defensively-minded central pairing of Tom Naylor and Anton Walkes in midfield.

It may not have been pretty, but for a side who developed a worrying habit of conceding late goals last term, seeing out the clean sheet was marked progress.


Searching for a Spark

There was no hiding from the fact Pompey were found wanting for creativity.

And one thing you can't accuse Kenny Jackett of is delivering a skewed assessment of his team's performances.

'You need to be realistic enough to say you need to be better on the ball,' said Jackett after Saturday's win. 'You need be more constructive in possession to try to be the side we are aspiring to be.'

The Blues were lacking in craft within the framework of the 4-4-1-1 formation they went with.

Brett Pitman was isolated up front despite Ronan Curtis' industry and graft, with the gap between the midfield and front line increasing throughout the afternoon.

Oli Hawkins' presence couldn't see the ball stick as it continually came back at the Pompey defence.

Jamal Lowe offered the only other attacking presence with his pace providing brief respite from the pressure the Blues faced.

It's clear one of the key issues we learnt from the opening day is Pompey need to find a balance between defensive steel and attacking verve.


On the Attack for Additions

Pompey are keen to bolster their options before the close of the transfer window on Thursday.

And the meeting with Luton highlighted the need for the additions Kenny Jackett has been hunting for this summer.

Creative quality in midfield and an attacking threat are the areas where the Blues boss is looking to bolster his options.

His side looked short in both areas, despite nicking the win from the newly-promoted Hatters.

A player who can come in off the line on the left and add to Pompey's penetration and goal threat is needed.

The need for someone to stretch defenders with a turn of pace was even more glaring.

Luton never looked fearful of being turned around by Oli Hawkins and Brett Pitman, allowing their back line to push up.

Consequently, Pompey found themselves under increasing pressure with Luton winning the ball further up the pitch and attacking.

Finding the players who can convince opposing defenders they need to be cautious is the key narrative of this week.