Pompey 0 Charlton 1: The Final Verdict

Jack Whatmough is gutted after Nicky Ajose nets against Pompey for what would be the decisive goal.
Jack Whatmough is gutted after Nicky Ajose nets against Pompey for what would be the decisive goal.
Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Will Rooney looks back on Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Charlton and assesses the main talking points.

Meek performance

It has been the season most fans wanted at the start of August.

Consolidation in League One was key after four campaigns in the Football League's basement.

Pompey have cemented themselves in the third tier impeccably - relegation has never been flirted with, not even during their lowest ebb after the turn of the year.

The fact that promotion was still on the cards with three games remaining highlights the impact Kenny Jackett has had on a mid-table budget.

However, it was the way the Blues surrendered a top-six place which pained the Fratton faithful the most.

They were second best in the 1-0 defeat to Charlton on Saturday and deservedly had play-off ambitions snatched away.

It wasn't the fact Pompey lost, they were playing a well-drilled top-six rival who in their own right would deserve to be promoted.

It was the overall performance which aggravated the Pompey crowd, causing some fans to boo at both half-time and full-time.

In a must-win game, it was a meek effort from Jackett's men.

They lacked in all departments and were rightly consigned to another season in League One.

From open play, the Blues lacked conviction and never really looked like engineering a chance unless it was from a set-piece.

Meanwhile, they could count themselves lucky they didn't concede until the 40th minute or another goal after Nicky Ajose's match-winner.

Paying the price

In the aftermath of Pompey's defeat, Jackett admitted his side have suffered in the injury absence of Anton Walkes.

As a result, the Blues have now picked up just one point from nine.

Jackett conceded his side lacked power in the engine room against the Addicks, whose midfield duo of Jake Forster-Caskey and Ahmed Kashi were excellent.

Forster-Caskey was able to run amok and dictate Lee Bowyer's side's attacks, while Kashi sat slightly deeper to protect his defence.

That's the sort of balance Pompey have missed and their midfield shortage was not resolved in January.

Dion Donohue looked uncomfortable in his favoured central role.

The Welshman, in a decent maiden campaign overall, has put the majority of his focus into improving as a left-back of late.

Although he started the game brightly, his decision to use the outside of his left boot instead of the weaker right resulted in Donohue misplacing a number of passes.

Meanwhile, Gareth Evans - who has filled in centrally in the past few weeks - was always going to be a short-term solution.

Stuart O'Keefe's impact added energy in the second half.

However, he is still trying to recapture full fitness following the best part of four months out.

It's the fact a replacement for the Cardiff loanee or Danny Rose was not found in January that Pompey have paid the price of missing out on a play-off berth.

Burgess is back

Jack Whatmough was forced off at half-time against Charlton.

After his history of suffering with long-term knee injuries, this time it's a groin problem which hopefully doesn't set him back for too long.

As a result, Christian Burgess made his first appearance in eight matches after being dropped by Jackett.

There's no doubt the former Peterborough talent deserved a spell out of the side after his usual high standards dipped.

It has clearly been a period of reflection for Burgess and he came on against the Addicks and looked hungry to impress.

He was composed on the ball, strong in the air and made one superb challenge to deny Ajose a second.

The Charlton man skipped past Matt Clarke on 71 minutes and pulled the trigger, but Burgess' well-timed lunge thwarted the danger.

Whatmough may not be risked for the final two games of the campaign.

And that means Burgess can expected to be handed another chance to recapture his best form.