Cotterill refuses to blame Kitson

Dave Kitson had a raft of good chances for Pompey against his old club
Dave Kitson had a raft of good chances for Pompey against his old club
Theo Widdrington. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Steve Cotterill has offered his backing to Dave Kitson after the striker endured a miserable Reading return.

The Blues forward, who spent five years at the Madejski Stadium, was given a warm reception on his return by the home fans.

But it seemed the occasion of playing against his old friends got to him as he missed three excellent goal-scoring opportunities in the first half – two of which were gilt-edged chances.

And it got no better for him after the break as he inadvertently blocked Hayden Mullins’ long-range piledriver that looked goal-bound.

While Cotterill admitted those missed chances had been crucial, he was not pointing the finger of blame at the former Royals man.

He said: ‘We could have been about 6-2 up at half-time.

‘We had some absolutely gilt-edged chances in the first half.

‘If we had taken them, it could have been a different game.

‘A few chances fell to Kits.

‘If the first one went in, he would probably have taken the other three as well.

‘Kits was fine, though. They are human beings and they are going to miss chances.

‘We all make mistakes, we forget them and we move on quickly. At half-time, we just spoke to him about having another chance in the second half.’

Cotterill felt an early header at the far post had set the tone for Kitson’s afternoon, as the striker was left totally unmarked but failed to get a good connection on Lawrence’s searching cross.

The Blues boss said: ‘I don’t think he thought he was offside.

‘As the cross was coming over – because it was one of those inswinging crosses – it was always going away from him.

‘He’s ended up chucking his head at it but he’s not quite met the ball.

‘So he got the faintest touch and it has hardly changed the route.

‘Instead of coming in and attacking it, he has not got any contact on it at all.

‘I’m not being funny but if he got any contact at all he was that close that it would have gone in.’

Kitson then failed to steer home a rebound from David Nugent’s spilled shot.

And he couldn’t hit the target with another header from Greg Halford’s deep free-kick before he saw another close-range effort blocked after the break.

Cotterill said: ‘It wasn’t just Kits. Liam had another one when he was one-on-one but he didn’t sit the ball down properly.

‘I see these lads stick these chances in every day of the week but it’s different when you are out there in the arena.

‘Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capitalise on the chances we made at a very good team who are on a good run.’