Pompey 2 Doncaster 2: What We Learnt

Pompey old boy John Marquis scores for Doncaster. Picture - Joe PeplerPompey old boy John Marquis scores for Doncaster. Picture - Joe Pepler
Pompey old boy John Marquis scores for Doncaster. Picture - Joe Pepler
Pompey writer Jordan Cross picks the bones out of Saturday's 2-2 draw with Doncaster.

No hiding defensive lapses

Pompey’s late rearguard action quite rightly earned the acclaim of fans against Doncaster.

The gutsy manner in which Kenny Jackett’s side dug out a point on Saturday ensured impetus grew out of the weekend result, despite it still being a winless start to 2018.

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Yet, that shouldn’t be allowed to overshadow the fact the Blues are shooting themselves in the foot defensively.

And unless the mistakes are eradicated it will bury any notion of Jackett’s men being involved in even a play-off push this term.

Jackett was quietly fuming about the manner in which both goals were shipped in the meeting with Darren Ferguson’s men.

‘Our goals against column has to be better,’ the Pompey boss said, as he tried to put a lid on his feelings. ‘It’s going to be hard for us if we’re defensively like that.’

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James Coppinger’s fourth-minute opener came through bodies after Nathan Thompson was harried out of possession and fired through Stephen Henderson’s body.

Then the manner in which John Marquis was afforded the freedom of the Pompey penalty area to head home unopposed in the 63rd minute was alarming.

Three blue shirts were draw to the ball as the former Blues man made it four goals in three games against his former club.

Revealingly, the visitors scored twice from a total of five shots on goal. That’s a worrying ratio which simply cannot continue.

Deliveries in focus

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Darren Ferguson was honest enough to admit his team deserved no more than a point against Pompey.

Quite right too, because after a poor start from the Blues it was the home side who dominated for long periods in the weekend draw.

Anton Walkes’ debut goal after 19 minutes marked the start of incessant pressure from the Blues, which continued until they reduced to 10 men with Stephen Henderson limping off and all subs used.

The basis of the attacking play was working the ball down both flanks and supplying a stream of balls towards 6ft 5in front man Oli Hawkins.

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With Doncaster going with a narrow midfield diamond formation, it was in wide areas where there was space to exploit.

The quality in which Pompey went about doing so was variable, to say the least.

Impressive link-up between Dion Donohue and Matt Kennedy down the left led to balls peppering the visitors’ penalty area.

Likewise, Gareth Evans with willing support play and decent supply from Walkes down the right.

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But too many times, especially after the restart, Pompey failed to make the most of being in promising advanced area on both flanks.

If defensive lapses were the most glaring issue emerging from the game, inconsistent crossing wasn’t far behind.

Loan woe continues

Transfer deadline day proved a frustrating affair for Pompey fans.

If Stephen Henderson’s injury is as bad as feared, then the way last Wednesday’s perceived moving forward will be even worse.

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Henderson looks likely to continue Kenny Jackett’s loan hex after limping off in agony on Saturday.

No one was in attendance as the 29-year-old went fell to the ground and was left punching the Fratton Park turf after a goal-kick.

An update on the outlook for the loanee will arrive this afternoon, but the concern is Henderson will be joining Tareiq Holmes-Dennis and Stuart O’keefe as long-term absences.

Henderson had added experience and an assured presence to a young Pompey side on his second bow for the club, before hobbling off.

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His distribution impressed along with organisation and willingness to claim crosses.

The Irishman will be disappointed with the manner in which the opening goal was fired through his body by James Coppinger, although he was left unsighted by blue shirts in front of him.

We now wait to see how the the keeping events have played out in Luke McGee’s head.

After being dropped for a more experienced option, Jackett will now have to quickly turn back to the man he brought in as his No1 in the summer.