Pompey boss pinpoints key factor in play-off failure

Kenny Jackett has demanded Pompey up their threat from set-pieces.

Sunday, 20th May 2018, 10:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 8:34 am
Brett Pitman scores against Blackpool. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues boss believes greater potency from dead-ball situations could have seen his side finish in the play-offs this season. And 
turning free-kicks and corners into goals with greater regularity is a key area his men have to improve on next term.

Jackett has been frustrated his players don’t dominate in the opposing box more.

He recently cited Matt Clarke and Christian Burgess as two men he wants to see cause more problems for opponents when going forward for their side.

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Matt Clarke celebrates scoring from a Gareth Evans delivery against Bury. Picture: Joe Pepler

The stats show Pompey have scored a total of eight goals this term from corners and set-pieces.

Four came from free-kicks – at Charlton, Blackpool, Rochdale and at home to Crawley in the Checkatrade Trophy.

The corners all came in home games against Bury, Doncaster, Oxford and Peterborough.

But Jackett has been underwhelmed with the return and, in particular, the quality of balls in often produced.

Gareth Evans has been Pompey's best bet at delivering set-pieces. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘I think it’s a key area,’ the Pompey boss said.

‘At times our service hasn’t been great this season.

‘It needs to come down with pace in between the posts, without the keeper coming to get it.

‘It’s as simple as that. It’s a simple formula, easy to say but not always easy to do.

‘Four out of five and nine out of 10 have to be like that.

‘You’re looking at good percentages.

‘Through the course of the season set-pieces are a game within a game.

‘You have to come out on top with them at both ends of the pitch.

‘Doing that can prove the difference between being five points off the play-offs like we were, and a top-six place.’

Jackett views Gareth Evans as the player who produces the best delivery in his current squad.

The stats bear out that opinion with four goals arriving from free-kicks and corners delivered from the former Manchester United trainee’s boot.

Dion Donohue, Danny Rose, Kal Naismith and Connor Ronan have produced the other ammunition which have results in Pompey goals this season.

Jackett feels Donohue can produce quality when playing balls in but, at times, has been inconsistent with his work in that area.

He added: ‘At times we can say our service hasn’t been good enough.

‘Gareth has generally had our best service.

‘Dion can definitely put them in but has been slightly erratic.

‘If I’m looking at Dion, too many have been right over the back in terms of his corners.

‘Gareth has been our most consistent player from corners and best server in terms of set-pieces, wide free-kicks and corners.

‘Our centre-backs need to attack them better in the six-yard box.

‘It is a target we can improve on and something we need to recognise we can improve on.’