Charlton 1 Portsmouth 3 - Neil Allen's verdict: Kenny Jackett ruthlessness pays off as new-look Blues shine

Kenny Jackett once again demonstrated his ruthlessness, certainly there have never been any favourite sons at Pompey.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 8:58 pm
Updated Wednesday, 3rd February 2021, 12:02 pm
Pompey's players celebrate Michael Jacobs' first-half opener against Charlton. Picture: Joe Pepler

The response was an outstanding victory at Charlton tonight as the visitors sprang to their feet following successive floorings.

The Blues could ill afford a third consecutive loss against promotion rivals – and how they emphatically halted that worrying run at the Valley.

At the heart of it was the manager’s cut-throat selection, an attribute he has demonstrated many times as Blues boss. Admittedly sometimes at a terrible cost.

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Nonetheless, Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis, traditionally automatic starters, paid the price for dips in form, finding themselves bench against the Addicks.

The omission of Lee Brown was perhaps the most brutal of all, having enjoyed a fine season, yet with Charlie Daniels in the house things change.

The recalling of James Bolton in place of the suspended Jack Whatmough represented the fourth and final alteration to the side which lost to Lincoln.

And Jackett’s new-look side, lining up in a 4-4-2, rose to the challenge magnificently.

The visitors claimed a 3-1 triumph through goals from Michael Jacobs, Tom Naylor and Andy Cannon – and how they thoroughly deserved it.

It seems a little harsh to suggest the scoreline could have been even more emphatic, with John Marquis and Ellis Harrison both culpable.

Still, it was a remarkable showing in a fixture under much scrutiny from the Fratton faithful.

The Blues are back on their feet, in fourth spot and four points off he automatic promotion spots.

Following successive league defeats for the first time in two years, Jackett handed Daniels his full debut in place of Brown, while Jacobs came in on the left wing for Ronan Curtis.

In addition, Bolton was given his first League One outing since July’s play-off semi-finals against Oxford United.

With Whatmough suspended, Paul Downing injured and Rasmus Nicolaisen unavailable, the versatile defender deputised at centre-half.

Finally, Harness was dropped to the bench as the Blues lined-up with a conventional 4-4-2 system.

That meant Harrison earning a recall to partner Marquis in attack, with Ryan Williams moving across to the right wing.

Recent recruit Lewis Ward was named on a bench which included fellow new-boys George Byers and Harvey White.

Meanwhile, Jordy Hiwula again failed to be included among the substitutes - for a third match running.

When the game got underway, Harrison collected a booking after just 86 seconds.

His foul on Chris Gunter, left the centre-half in agony and Lee Swabey brandished the yellow card.

On four minutes, Craig MacGillivray’s long clearance found its way to Marquis, who attempted to lob the ball over Amos from well outside the box.

However, the striker’s effort lacked sufficient height and was comfortably caught by Ben Amos.

The Addicks came close to breaking the deadlock in the 10th minute through Albie Morgan.

Jayden Stockley did superbly to lay the ball off and his team-mate’s fierce effort from left struck the top of the bar and bounced behind for a goal kick.

The Blues responded with a promising attack down the middle, which saw Harrison feed Marquis to his right.

However, Pompey’s leading scorer could only sky his shot over the bar when he should have done better.

Another wonderful pass from the left from Jacobs picked out Marquis’ run into the box on the half-hour mark, leaving the striker with just the keeper to beat.

However, his attempt lacked conviction and Amos stood up and deflected it wide for a corner.

On 32 minutes, the Blues’ players were calling for Darren Pratley to be dismissed following a lunge on Andy Cannon.

Jacobs had blocked the midfielder’s attempted pass and, as the skipper tried to make amends, he dived in on Cannon as he reached the loose ball first.

However, referee Lee Swabey opted to book Pratley rather than a more severe punishment.

Marquis was then presented with another chance, yet his angled drive from the right took a nick for a corner.

Pompey took the lead on 39 minutes through their outstanding player of the half - Jacobs.

The ball was played into him from the right by Naylor and the attacker struck a sweet first-time right-footed shot into the top corner.

A lovely strike from Jacobs, whose passing at that point had been an absolute delight.

Moments later, Jacobs’ pass with the outside of his right boot picked Williams running clean through, but the winger couldn’t capitalise and Oshilaja pumped the ball clear.

With half-time approaching, the brilliant Jacobs cut in from the left and his shot deflected for another corner.

Charlton made two changes at the break with Morgan and Pratley replaced by Ben Watson and Liam Miller.

On 50 minutes, Cannon conceded a foul and, when the free-kick was delivered into Pompey’s box, Watson went down amid noisy appeals for a penalty.

The match official assessed the situation, before taking no action.

However, on 52 minutes, the hosts levelled when Stockley rose at the far post to head home Andrew Shinnie’s left-wing corner.

Harness had already been waiting to come on and was immediately introduced for Williams.

Pompey should have retaken the lead instantly when a ball came in from the left finding Harrison all alone at the far post.

Finishing it off should have been a formality, yet somehow Amos improbably kept out the striker’s fierce shot.

It was 2-1 to the Blues, though, on 55 minutes when Harness’ free-kick from the right was headed powerfully home by Naylor.

It capped a crazy few minutes, yet the visitors were now back in the lead.

Pompey increased their lead on 62 minutes following Calum Johnson’s deep cross from the right.

It missed his team-mates, but Charlton produced a poor clearance, with Cannon firstly winning the loose ball in a tackle, then striking a tremendous right-footed shot into the far corner.

Suddenly, with 30 minutes remaining, Jackett’s men were winning 3-1 – and appearing capable of more.

Raggett then had a clash of heads with Oshilaja on the edge of the Addicks’ penalty area, with both players carrying on wearing bandages.

Pompey had eight minutes of time added on to negotiate and how they defended like Trojans to see out an impressive 3-1 victory.