Can we get our money back on striker coach? Craig MacGillivray now contract priority? - your Portsmouth questions answered

The Fratton faithful have been firing in their questions after Pompey’s 1-1 draw with Gillingham on Saturday.

Monday, 1st March 2021, 4:00 pm
League Division 1 - Portsmouth vs Gillingham - 27/02/2021 Portsmouth's Craig MacGillivray makes a save

The Blues dropped more points as their bid for League One automatic promotion continues to stutter.

Subjects tackled are Pompey’s out-of-form strikers, Craig MacGillivray’s contract, Marcus Harness and more...

1. I know Pompey have brought in Gifton Noel-Williams to help the strikers, but any chance we can get our money back?

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Ellis Harrison. Picture: Joe Pepler

Steve Morton

Seeing as Noel-Williams’ remit falls under the PFA, I’m not actually sure Pompey are paying him directly – or even the PFA for that matter!

Still, I take on board you’re referring to the point that Pompey’s strikers are badly out of sorts and Kenny Jackett and Noel-Williams need to remedy that.

After a combative display at Oxford, Ellis Harrison was nullified against Gillingham and picked up a knock to his knee for his troubles.

You know you’re always going to get a physical performance from Harrison but he’s scored just once from open play in the league this season (against Wigan in September). That underlines he’s not been enough of a direct goal threat.

John Marquis is also suffering a bad patch and struggled to have any sort of tangible impact when replacing Harrison against the Gills.

One thing I’ll say is it’s not helping Pompey have recently gone back to a direct style of play.

To get Marquis firing, he needs the ball on the deck and proved before Christmas he’s better alongside a partner.

However, quite a few fans have now started to scrutinise his hold-up play and first touch, in particular.

I think we have banged this drum more than Phil Collins and it’s getting tedious now – but what does Jordy Hiwula have to do to be given a chance?

When he signed, Jackett waxed lyrical about his pace and that it’d give Pompey something different.

At this moment, what the Blues are doing isn’t working. They need something different, something that will give them a spark.

Surely Hiwula can do no worse.

2. Please, please explain how Pompey can beat Oxford away on a Tuesday night and then draw at home to Gillingham days later - and only just scrape a draw?

Richard Evans

It comes down to one word – inconsistency.

Obviously, Pompey have been much better on their travels this season than they have at Fratton Park.

The Blues sit just 11th in the home table, averaging 1.35 points per game, opposed to second in the away standing averaging 2.23 points per match.

When you think back at the sides who have been promoted automatically in recent years, they’ve all gone on long, unbeaten runs.

Remember a couple of seasons ago when Luton and Barnsley couldn’t be stopped at the top of the table?

We’re all in agreement that Pompey’s squad has the quality to be promoted. After all, Kenny Jackett called this the best group of players he’s had at the club.

What’s clear is the players need to find consistency and Jackett must rectify his side’s attacking shortcomings that will avoid another play-off lottery

3. Is this is a good time to play Doncaster Rovers? Their form has dipped dramatically in recent weeks and the manager has now left. A good time or will they be a wounded animal Tuesday night?

John Carruthers

That’s a good question.

Doncaster appeared to be careering towards the automatic promotion places at the start of last month before picking up one point in their past five games to drop to sixth.

Now Darren Moore’s left, you wonder what sort of reaction the players will produce.

You’d think not too much will change how Rovers approach the game. Defender Andy Butler, who’s taken charge for the rest of the season, will probably prepare the team as Moore would have.

Given Moore’s shock departure, Donny might feel they’ve got a point to prove, that their boss was wrong to not have faith they can yield a spot in the Championship.

I can’t see Kenny Jackett’s plans changing too much.

If I had to stick my neck on the line, it’s a decent time to play Doncaster – although I could well be wrong!

4. Marcus Harness may have set up Pompey's only goal against Gillingham but he's been below par for far too long. What's going on?

David Hicks

Harness showed the sort of magic that no other Pompey player is capable of when assisting Sean Raggett’s opener.

However, apart from that piece of quality and hitting the post in the early stages, the winger frustratingly did very little else throughout.

Like others, Harness faded in the second half. There was one moment that had Guy Whittingham frustrated during his BBC Radio Solent commentary duties when the ex-Burton man opted for an early cross rather than attacking the space down the flank.

That, to me, says Harness is suffering from a lack of confidence. After all, like many wingers, he is a confidence player.

There will be no-one more frustrated than the mercurial forward, who’s now gone more than four months without a league goal.

All wide men at this level go through sticky patches, though. Once he gets his confidence back, he will hopefully rediscover the form we all know he’s capable of.

5. Craig MacGillivray should be top of the list when it comes to a new contract on current form. Agree?

Ollie Dawson

That’s an opinion that many would agree with.

I’d personally like to see Tom Naylor’s future sorted first. He’s club captain after all and should be the priority.

However, Pompey should then quickly turn their attention to MacGillivray after he again came to the rescue against Gillingham when denying John Akinde late on.

As League One keepers go, he ranks among the very best of them and is a player who could quite easily cut it in the Championship.

He will have suitors watching his situation but Pompey have the advantage as MacGillivray is settled in the area and enjoys being at the club.

The one caveat to tying MacGillivray down to a new long-term deal is what happens with Alex Bass next season? He’s got another two years on his contract and will be desperate for another sustained run in League One after duly impressing last season.

Perhaps a loan switch to another third-tier side could be the best thing for the 22-year-old next campaign.