Will Rooney picks out the pre-match talking points ahead of Pompey’s trip to Southend.
FINISHING MUST IMPROVE
Despite suffering a 2-1 defeat to Blackburn on Tuesday, Pompey felt they deserved at least a point from the game.
But the result was largely down to their own failings in front of goal.
Although the efforts Kenny Jackett’s side conceded were preventable, their composure in their own attacking third left a lot to be desired.
The Blues had several chances that went begging, with Conor Chaplin only finding the net in the end.
Brett Pitman is enduring a torrid time in front of goal at present.
How many of the Fratton faithful could have predicted he would be struggling so badly given the frantic first half of the season he had?
The former Bournemouth and Ipswich marksman’s radar was off target on two separate occasions against Tony Mowbray’s side and he’s scored just one goal from open play in his past 12 league games.
However, it highlighted Pompey cannot simply rely on their captain to keep producing the goals for a concerted play-off push.
Gareth Evans also had a couple of opportunities against Rovers – one of which was blazed over the bar.
Meanwhile, Anton Walkes should have hit the target from inside the box in the second period.
Even if the Blues tighten up their defence and deliver a clean sheet at Southend, it’ll mean little to their play-off charge if they’re unable to put the ball away themselves.
HOW THINGS CAN CHANGE
The defeat to Blackburn wasn’t the ideal start to a season-defining period for Pompey.
With three games left in a run of matches in quick succession, it means maximum points at Southend is now even more crucial if the Blues are to mount a play-off challenge.
A few weeks ago, this would have been a fixture Kenny Jackett’s side would have earmarked as a potential win.
The Shrimpers were at their lowest ebb and plummeting towards the relegation zone under Phil Brown.
Yet things can quickly change in football.
Now Jackett’s troops go to one of the in-form teams in League One.
Since replacing Brown with Chris Powell, the Shrimpers have been given a shot in the arm.
They look every bit the side who just missed out on the top six last season.
Their record under their new boss is three victories and a draw.
Last weekend they overcame high-flying Wigan 3-1 in impressive style at Roots Hall.
Pompey’s form on the road this campaign has been one of their biggest downfalls.
Collecting 16 points from a possible 45 away from home isn’t the form of a side who harbour play-off ambitions.
Nevertheless, their performance against Rovers was encouraging on a whole.
The Blues more than matched the automatic-promotion hopefuls, while there was a success in the last away game at MK Dons, which bodes well.
A BELATED BIRTHDAY TREAT
How Conor Chaplin would love a belated 21st birthday present.
He already received an early one, after all.
Kenny Jackett revealed he’s ready to unleash the academy product on League One following the Blackburn game.
That must have been music to the forward’s ears.
It means Chaplin’s wish will change when he blows out his candles on his cake.
Previously, there’s a good chance it would have been to be handed more starts, with the majority of his 114 appearances coming off the bench.
Yet an industrious, intelligent performance that yielded a typical Chaplin goal midweek showed his boss he’s come of age.
A goal would not only cap off his 21st, but it would also be the first time he’s scored in three successive matches.