Pre-season Pompey patterns begin to emerge

Pompey new boy Lee Brown impressed at Stevenage. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey new boy Lee Brown impressed at Stevenage. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Jordan Cross assesses the 3-2 loss at Stevenage on Saturday and looks at what we learnt about Pompey.

Patterns emerging

Kenny Jackett kept to his decision to give players extra time on the pitch at Stevenage.

After fielding a different side in each half of the first two pre-season games, he restricted it to five changes at Broadhall Way.

Four of them came after 62 minutes, as Conor Chaplin, Danny Rose, Oli Hawkins and Chrstian Burgess were introduced.

Then late concern for Tom Naylor saw him replaced by Brandon Haunstrup, after he went down with cramp.

Interestingly, Jack Whatmough and Adam May were given auditions as they were handed starts, after not being used in what appeared to be Jackett's stronger XI against Cork and Hawks.

Craig MacGillivray looks to be establishing himself as first choice with Lee Brown and Ronan Curtis favoured down the left.

Matt Clarke, Jamal Lowe and Brett Pitman pick themselves with Naylor looking to be a clear starter.

We wait to see if Anton Walkes arrives to compete with Nathan Thompson at right-back, likewise an attacking midfielder to vie with the likes of Gareth Evans.

Intriguingly, the question has now been raised how a striker like Mo Eisa would fit into the 4-1-4-1 formation used last season and in the warm-up games.

You don't spend in excess of £1m on a player at this level and leave them on the bench.


Left side's alright

A plus point came in the threat offered in wide areas against Stevenage.

And it was particularly encouraging to see the the link-up of new boys Lee Brown and Ronan Curtis down the left.

We all know about the attacking verve of Jamal Lowe and defensive stoutness of Nathan Thompson on the right-hand side.

But the new-look pairing showcased a developing understanding and potential, particularly on the front foot, at Broadhall Way.

Brown willingness to overlap was utilised to good effect, and the summer arrival from Bristol Rovers made the most of finding himself in good positions.

The 27-year-old may not be a speed merchant, but he attacks effectively and his crossing caught the eye.

Similarly, Curtis gave the best insight yet into the talent which convinced Jackett to pay over £100,000 for his services.

His willingness to engage defenders impressed along with his direct play with the Irishman Pompey's standout player.

There's plenty of signs Pompey will be alright on the left next season.

Defensive doubt

It may be pre-season but shipping three goals was an obvious concern for Pompey in the Stevenage loss.

For the second weekend on the bounce Matt Clarke allowed an attacking opponent to get away from him in costly fashion.

Nicke Kabamba's heels were clipped as he nipped away from the defender against Hawks, to allow Alfie Pavey to convert a penalty.

At Broadhall Way, it was Ben Kennedy who broke away from Pompey's prized asset to make it level before the break.

It was Emmanuel Sonupe's pace which caused problems following his introduction at the interval.

That paved the way for fellow sub Andronicos Georgiou's double, with the first coming via a wicked deflection off Tom Naylor which took the ball beyond Craig MacGillivray.

Stevenage were able to break in numbers on Pompey's defence on a number of occasions, which would have been a cause for concern for Kenny Jackett.

Pre-season is the time to iron out such faults - and there's evidently plenty to work on at the back.