Pompey writer Jordan Cross completes the inquest to the Blues’ first league defeat of the season against struggling Gillingham
Lacking in Lustre
It Pompey were still playing now the score against Gillingham would be 2-0.
That’s how it felt as Kenny Jackett’s side lost their unbeaten league record to the strugglers.
The cutting edge was patently missing as the Blues passed up the chance to really put a stranglehold on the race for the Championship.
The reasons for that were manifold, but decision making and the final ball in from wide areas was a clear factor in failing to register a goal for just the second time in 14 fixtures this season.
If taking enough care with the final pass contributed to the loss, it’s apparent once again Jackett’s men aren’t providing enough threat from set-pieces.
A total of 14 corners failed to deliver anything like the danger they should, with it all too easy for for central-defensive duo Max Ehmer and Gabriel Zakuani to dominate aerially.
It was an issue Jackett referred to after the game, with the Pompey boss happy with the delivery but questioning his side’s ‘desire’ to attack the ball.
The Pompey boss threw everything he reasonably could at the visitors in his chase for a return with winger David Wheeler ending up at right-back with Jamal Lowe, Ronan Curtis, Oli Hawkins and Brett Pitman all on the pitch.
Perhaps an earlier introduction for Hawkins could be the only criticism, with it calling out for his height as he came into the fray with 15 minutes left.
But Pompey have now failed to open three struggling sides nearly enough in the past three Fratton Park outings.
Context is needed with the Blues still leading the way in League One, but the inability to do so provides an obvious area to address.
Two very different goals led to Pompey’s downfall against Gillingham.
A moment of class from big striker Tom Eaves and poor organisation from a stoppage-time corner allowed Alex Lacey to put daylight between the sides.
Kenny Jackett’s was critical of his side’s defending from both goals, though, and felt they were preventable.
Max Ehmer got the leap on Jamal Lowe for the first, but then came such breathtaking juggling from Eaves before unleashing a volley which drew applause from the home crowd.
Jackett was unhappy Jack Whatmough wasn’t more pro-active in engaging the striker, however.
The finger could be pointed at a host of players for the second, as the ball was allowed to fly across the face of goal before Lacey escaped the clutches of Nathan Thompson and applied the finish.
Craig MacGillivray could do little with either goal as two goals were put past him in the league for just the second time this season.
Good to Talk
From Kenny Jackett’s description, it sounded a stretch to call them crunch talks.
But the Pompey boss explained their was a full and frank discussion in the home dressing room as a Gillingham post-mortem was carried out.
Jackett was later than usual arriving for his post-match press duties as players and staff had their say on why it went wrong against Steve Lovell’s side.
‘There’s different viewpoints,’ Jackett said afterwards. ‘I felt there were certain things we needed to do better. Full stop.’
From the Pompey players’ angle, according to their manager, they were keen to put the defeat down to a bad day at the office - and focus on building another unbeaten run.
Jackett is refusing to sweep inadequacies under the table, but perhaps not lingering on the loss and letting it become too draining is the best course of action.