What Pompey need to do to become a top-six side

Pompey's Jamal Lowe cuts a frustrated figure after Bradford's smash-and-grab raid. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's Jamal Lowe cuts a frustrated figure after Bradford's smash-and-grab raid. Picture: Joe Pepler
Danny Rose in Pompey's current Sondico kit. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey have looked short of being a top-six side this season.

You don’t have to look too deeply into the stats for evidence that’s been the case.

The Blues’ current eighth-placed berth in League One equals the highest they’ve been since the opening-day win over Rochdale.

But, ahead of the trip to Charlton this weekend, the league results against teams above Kenny Jackett’s men are revealing.

And delving into the numbers surrounding that issue moves into focus the distance still needed to travel.

The visit to The Valley will be the sixth game against sides currently above Pompey in the table this term.

The record reads: Played five, won none, drawn one, lost four.

And Jackett’s men could have few grumbles about that lop-sided return of results against the division’s pacesetters.

Of those fixtures, only Bradford could count themselves fortunate to have snaffled away the points.

Bantams boss Stuart McCall admitted as much when his team completed a smash-and-grab win at Fratton Park in October.

The other games have not warranted a greater return for Pompey, however.

No-one could have complained if Jackett’s side were beaten by four at Wigan in August.

As it was, they stole a point in the 1-1 draw at the DW Stadium to the delight of 2,000 travelling fans.

The 2-0 loss at Scunthorpe in September underlined the qualities needed to get established at this level.

There was nothing particularly spectacular about the team who finished third last season.

The Iron were an organised, sturdy outfit with a strong spine and every player well drilled in their roles.

It’s been no surprise to see the consistency of Graham Alexander’s side this term in an object lesson to their rivals.

The trip to Blackburn saw the most comprehensive defeat of the season served up to Jackett’s men.

A 3-0 reverse reflected the comfort of Rovers’ win, as did Jackett’s demeanour after the game.

For a man who exudes calm, the 55-year-old was revealingly a degree below boiling point in his post-match duties.

Peterborough currently sit above Pompey on goal difference – and edged the 2-1 win last month at London Road.

There wasn’t much in the loss there but a failure to deal with a set-piece proved costly and indicative of the sort of mistakes which have peppered performances at times.

Revealingly, goal difference backs why Pompey are just coming up short of a being top-six outfit.

Everyone in the top seven carries a better record, everyone has scored more and, with the exception of Peterborough, conceded fewer.

So the numbers show a team short of bridging the distance to becoming a play-off side this term.

The eyes, however, offer the caveat that perhaps it’s a smallish gap rather than a chasm.

Of all the teams faced, a gulf on the pitch has only been evident on two occasions: Wigan and Blackburn.

True, a trip to Shrewsbury is still to come after more than 3,800 fans travel to south east London this weekend.

Both are teams to be respected rather than feared, though – which is really the tale of most sides encountered at this level.

With Pompey a work in progress, it’s about adding a consistency to their game to make them contenders, rather that undergoing a overhaul.

And with five wins out of six now, there’s certainly reasons to be cheerful on that front.

One of Jackett’s more admirable qualities is his honesty in delivering assessments of Pompey’s performances. There’s no sugarcoating.

‘At times we look a good side,’ the Blues boss said recently.

Which rather succinctly sums up what’s needed to become one.