Pompey 0 Yeovil 0

Matt Tubbs is thwarted by Yeovil goalkeeper Artur Krysiak Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Tubbs is thwarted by Yeovil goalkeeper Artur Krysiak Picture: Joe Pepler
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Paul Cook afterwards spoke of the necessity to eke out the magic to conjure up victories over the most stubborn of visiting defences.

Forget that, Pompey need to identify an escapologist to pick impossible locks and enable the chains to be thrown off their Fratton Park outings.

It is to their credit the Blues are being eyed more warily by opposition these, particularly on home turf.

Cook’s regime is much-fancied for promotion, not merely among the Fratton faithful but also among rival managers.

Yet the compliment has backhanded connotations, as Pompey fans are beginning to witness themselves as this encouraging campaign unfolds.

Yesterday, Yeovil became the latest to enter Fratton with great trepidation and a reformulated game plan designed to strangle the occasion.

It has become a familiar trait among visiting teams, previously demonstrated by Accrington Stanley, Exeter and, to an extent, Barnet.

With an onus on packing the midfield, sitting deep, letting the hosts dominate possession in areas which cannot hurt while themselves showing little attacking intent, it has swiftly become the standard blueprint to frustrate the Blues.

A tried and tested formula generally not rolled out by away sides too often under the forgettable eras of Guy Whittingham and Andy Awford. Mind you, there was no reason to.

To criticise such an approach and demand opposition play differently would be unfair and pompous – Cook’s real issues lie with how to overcome it.

For eight points out of a possible 18 at home so far is developing into a genuine concern for a side with aspirations of automatic promotion.

Following the mid-week defeat to Exeter, Pompey’s boss made three changes, altering a holding midfielder, an attacking midfielder and a striker.

At half-time, he switched to a 4-4-2 system playing Matt Tubbs and Jayden Stockley as twin strikers, a rarity in itself during their time at the club.

Yet the outcome was once again precisely the same as the Blues were held to a goalless draw.

And it was greeted by a number of boos among a crowd of 17,309 – the club’s biggest league attendance of the league campaign so far.

It was vocal criticism unmistakably centred on the manner of the result. On this occasion certainly not aimed in the direction of a wretched match official or particularly annoying visiting player.

Pompey are fourth in League Two with one defeat in 11 matches – and the boos have begun.

For Cook, though, his attention must focus on unearthing the secret to breaking down Fratton Park opposition content to defend for 90 minutes.

Throw in the away trip to Crawley and already it is developing into a weakness which is hampering the Blues in what nonetheless has still been a bright start to the season.

For all their dominance in possession – which totalled a staggering 71 per cent yesterday – they continue to fumble around trying to make it truly effective in terms of goalscoring.

In truth, against the Glovers they barely threatened Artur Krysiak’s goal, even if for the final 30 minutes it was as one-sided a footballing contest you will ever witness.

Granted, there was Michael Doyle’s left-foot drive from distance which the keeper pushed out before hacked clear by his defence.

That arrived in the 81st minute and represented the only on-target attempt he had to deal with during the entire 90 minutes.

It came as the Blues continued to lay siege on the opposition goal, but sadly very few punches managed to land as Sturrock’s men defended for their lives.

At one point Ben Davies’ shot smacked Ryan Bird in the face, sending him spiralling into the turf he previously patrolled as a Pompey player.

Yeovil’s lone striker had resorted to joining his team-mates in packing out the penalty area in a desperate attempt to keep Pompey’s wave after wave of attacks at bay.

Certainly there could be no questioning the hosts’ desire, effort or attitude over the duration of the fixture, regardless of any boos boys out there.

What they were lacking, however, was the inspiration to exploit any chink in the Yeovil armour – and it is developing into a worryingly familiar story.

Of course, it could have been worse had Aaron McCarey not pulled off a stunning save to deny Bird on his return to Fratton Park.

The ex-Burnham striker, who netted three times during his Pompey spell, sent in a header from a right-wing corner and McCarey flung himself to his right to fingertip it around the post.

Bird believed he had netted in front of the Fratton end once more, but it was not to be thanks to the Blues’ on-loan goalkeeper.

That was the sum of what the Glovers had to offer, although in terms of goal-scoring opportunities Cook’s men fared little better.

There was Doyle’s attempt, while Gary Roberts swept a first-time left-foot shot over the bar following good work by Kyle Bennett down the left.

Let’s not also forget the deep cross delivered by Davies late on which Enda Stevens couldn’t quite make a clean connection with at the far post.

That was it. For all the possession and quality, that was it.

Over to Cook then to resolve a niggling problem which is developing into a splitting migraine, not that he needs reminding.

Against Yeovil, he had already brought Michael Doyle, Gary Roberts and Matt Tubbs back into the starting line-up for Danny Hollands, Conor Chaplin and Jayden Stockley as he craved a change of fortune.

Yet once more that precious spark was missing as they battered against the door without it budging, much to the disappointment of all those previous.

Next up is a trip to Cambridge United, the scene of last season’s Matt Tubbs hat-trick and Jed Wallace wonder show, yet a testing trip regardless.

It will allow Cook a full week to reevaluate as he seeks to overcome his first real test of a fledgling Pompey managerial career which has begun so impressively.

Irrespective of this present failing, that is now 20 points from 11 matches for this much-changed side as they continue to challenge for promotion.

This time last week the Blues headed a league table for the first time in nine years. Now some are booing.

Yet there is plenty more to come from this Pompey side – once they can pick the door locks on parked buses.