Brandon Haunstrup shows he's all right but Portsmouth must now find ways to unlock sides sitting back more frequently

Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the talking points from Pompey’s 4-1 victory over Southend...

Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 11:59 am
Updated Wednesday, 6th November 2019, 5:18 pm
Brandon Haunstrup impressed when he came on for Pompey against Southend. Picture: Robin Jones

Haunstrup is all right

As Joe Gallen pinpointed at full-time, you didn't need to be Albert Einstein to see Ross McCrorie had pulled a hamstring.

But anyone who predicted Brandon Haunstrup would replace the Rangers loanee as he immediately hobbled down the tunnel may want to rethink their career if they’re not already in physics.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

With James Bolton omitted from the match-day squad with Brett Pitman returning from his groin injury, there wasn’t a natural right-back on the bench.

It meant Kenny Jackett had to make an on-the-spot decision to make.

He could have introduced Paul Downing and shifted Christian Burgess to the right – a position he’s operated in this term.

Andy Cannon also featured in the role at Rochdale and was moved there at Wycombe earlier this season.

Nevertheless, Jackett got his decision correct by opting for Haunstrup.

It’s always strange seeing a left-footer playing on the right-hand side of defence, although vice versa is a common occurrence.

Haunstrup is an adept left-back as we know, but looked equally as comfortable on the opposite flank.

What’s more, it gave Pompey an attacking threat from different angles. And that’s why his inswinging cross caused Southend problems and John Marquis poked home.

In the second period, he continued to foray forward. The 23-year-old ghosted inside to tee-up Marquis again but the striker couldn’t keep his shot down.

Haunstrup wasn’t done there and displayed excellent vision with six minutes remaining to slide in Marcus Harrison, who finished at the near post.

Whether the academy graduate retains his place while McCrorie is sidelined or Bolton comes back is now the decision Jackett must weigh up.

Yet Haunstrup will feel rightly feel aggrieved if it’s not him who starts at Harrogate.

Challenge is now to unlock stubborn sides

It was a comfortable evening for Pompey on the whole.

But that’s how it should have been given Southend's predicament.

The Shrimpers have won just once all season and had conceded 44 League One goals before arriving on the south coast.

And despite Sol Campbell taking charge of just his third game, there was no sense of that new-manager bounce that frequently occurs.

Unless things drastically change, the Shrimpers are doomed to be relegated. In fact, you wouldn’t bet against them being leapfrogged by Bolton, who started with a 12-point deduction, as things stand.

They were as poor a side you’ll see in the third tier.

That’s why Kenny Jackett's detractors walked away from Fratton Park at full-time still unconvinced.

During the first period, the Blues found it difficult to create openings against a Southend side happy to stick 11 men behind the ball.

If it wasn’t for John Marquis’ stoppage-time goal, it’s likely the boos would have rung out around PO4 at the half-time whistle.

In fairness, Pompey conjured up plenty of chances in the second half when the visitors were forced to open up more in search of an equaliser.

In recent weeks, the Blues have looked better against the sides who also want to have a go at them. At Bristol Rovers and Oxford last weekend, Jackett's men displayed their prowess on the counter-attack and were dangerous.

But in home matches, such as the 0-0 draw with Gillingham and 1-0 win over Bolton, Pompey lacked real guile and ingenuity.

The challenge the Blues and Jackett are now faced with is to discover the craft to unlock sides happy to sit back and play for a draw.

The goalscoring performance that’s been coming

It’s the in-vogue term that’s swept the game lately.

It’s jargon the tactical and stats enthusiasts often refer to, while some give it no credence at all.

Whether you’re a believer of expected goals or not, it doesn’t need fancy line graphs and diagrams to figure out Pompey haven’t put the ball in the back of the net enough this term.

But the Blues delivered their biggest win of the League One campaign at Southend. Given the attacking potency in Kenny Jackett’s side, a fair few people would have foreseen several scorelines like that before the season started.

Pompey’s margin of victory could have been wider as Tom Naylor struck the post, Ellis Harrison missed a gilt-edged header, a Ben Close effort took a deflection and Marcus Harness shot just wide shortly after netting.

It’s the sort of scoreline that has been coming, albeit against a wilting Southend – but it could just be the catalyst required following an underwhelming start.