Pompey challenged to raise scoring game

Brett Pitman's last goal from open play in the league dates back to the 1-0 win over Southend in November
Brett Pitman's last goal from open play in the league dates back to the 1-0 win over Southend in November
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Kenny Jackett has called on Pompey to raise their goal return as they strive to clamber back into the play-off positions.

The Blues have just twice scored more than one goal in a League One encounter during the past 11 fixtures.

I do believe if Brett gets chances he will score goals and he is working as hard as anybody to make sure he can get back to a consistent run of goals in open play

Kenny Jackett

It’s a period which has also seen leading scorer Brett Pitman fail to net in open play in the league since November 18 against Southend.

Pompey tomorrow face a stern test with the visit of a Shrewsbury side boasting the second-best defensive record in the division.

And Jackett is aware his team need to sharpen up their attacking edge to make a dent in the Shrews’ miserly rearguard.

He said: ‘We now need our forwards to really step up and make sure we can do enough damage to get the wins we need at this crucial stage of the season.

‘Finishing is such an important part of the game.

‘It is easy to say we had chances, but you need players who can finish and be clinical, putting the chances away, it is really important to us.

‘When they do come you have to make sure you put them away, but also you need a process to create goals, not just an end product.

‘I do believe if Brett gets chances he will score goals and he is working as hard as anybody to make sure he can get back to a consistent run of goals in open play and in league games, where it matters the most.’

Paul Hurst’s team have conceded 20 times in their 27 League One matches, keeping 13 clean sheets in the process.

They claimed a 2-0 victory over Pompey in their previous encounter 48 hours before Christmas Day, albeit generously helped by defensive errors.

Now the third-placed team, kept out of the promotion spots by goal difference, venture to Fratton Park seeking to boost their bid.

Jacket added: ‘Shrewsbury games are very tight, even when you saw their West Ham games in the FA Cup they kept it very tight, very competitive.

‘The goals against column has been a real strength of theirs.

‘Dean Henderson has been excellent in goal and they have got their noses in front and not needed many goals to turn those into wins because they’ve been so strong defensively.

‘Shrewsbury and Wigan have been the stand-out sides defensively and that is going to keep them in every game.

‘I am sure between now and the end of the season - as well as tomorrow - it will be exactly the same.’