Former Chelsea, Middlesbrough and Leeds United striker did a number on Danny Cowley - talking points from Portsmouth defeat at Burton Albion
There were a number of key talking points from Pompey’s defeat to Burton Albion up for discussion as the Blues’ winless run extended to eight games in all competitions.
Pompey entered the match against the Brewers encouraged by two promising performances against Plymouth and Charlton, but fell to defeat at the Pirelli Stadium.
Individual errors across the defence cost the Blues once again, as Jimmy Floyd Hasslebaink’s side claimed all three points on Tuesday night.
The only small glimmer of hope was the performance from Reeco Hackett-Fairchild, whose excellently taken free-kick halved the deficit with 25 minutes remaining.
But his effort was in vain as Pompey couldn’t complete the comeback.
We spoke to our man at the Pirelli Stadium, Sam Cox, for his thought on the match. Read below to see his verdict.
Q: What was your thoughts on the performance last night?
A: It was a very disappointing performance and result from Pompey last night. Both Burton and the Blues entered the match on the back of winless runs, and it very much felt like the Charlton match with Burton being there for the taking, but Pompey really couldn’t find a way through.
In all honesty, Jimmy Floyd-Hasslebaink did a number on Danny Cowley yesterday. Burton changed their system slightly and pressed a little higher to try and expose Pompey from playing out of the back. In truth, Pompey couldn’t get into the game, they had a few decent spells but the stats of two shots on target during the whole game - one being the free-kick and a Marquis half chance is damning.
Apart from that, they didn’t really create a lot. It was as if they were almost shocked with the way Burton played, while individual errors keep giving the team mountains to climb.
Q: Why couldn’t the team replicate relatively good performances against Plymouth and Charlton as it was the same team that started all three matches?
A: Pompey couldn’t quite get a foothold in the game. If you look at the two standout performers in the two previous draws, Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness were at the heart of all that was good in those performances. Last night, both players grew in anonymity as the game progressed.
Last night their play was a lot slower and more pedestrian. Against Charlton, they utilised the fullbacks expertly well, Romeo was superb in the previous draws and he somewhat struggled last night to get on the ball.
Pompey struggled to get the ball flowing down the wings, and once they did, the quality from wide areas wasn’t really there. Burton do deserve a lot of credit, because they stopped Pompey from using the wings.
Q: More errors leading to goals cost Pompey last night, why is the defence an issue now when it wasn’t at the start of the season?
A: At the moment it’s fair to say Pompey are becoming undone due to a lack of options, especially across the three centre-backs. Clark Robertson is out for a prolonged period of time, Connor Ogilvie is on his way back but isn’t fully fit, and Cowley doesn’t quite fancy Paul Downing, it seems.
I think it’s a personnel issue at the moment, the three at the back formation that is being used will prove to be the right system going forward at the moment it’s down to the options and players at Cowley’s disposal are struggling to adapt to that way of playing.
At the moment, they have a right-back and a centre-midfielder slotting in at centre-back and even though Williams has played in back fours, he doesn’t appear to be so comfortable in a back three.
Q: How far can Reeco Hackett-Fairchild grow, and what player can he become?
A: Last night, he looked very accomplished and looked good on the ball. He’s still so young so there’s the hope he can go on and become a very good player for Pompey. Cowley has a track record of improving young players so it’s very likely he’ll continue to improve.
He was one of Pompey’s better performers last night, and his free-kick wasn’t given justice as the team couldn’t find an equaliser or a winner.
Q: Pompey face table-toppers Sunderland on Saturday, how hard will the test be at Fratton Park?
A: On paper, it looks very difficult. Sunderland are the league’s ‘form team’ as they climbed back to the league’s summit last night. They currently have 10 more points than Pompey, and look so accomplished.
They’re not struggling for goals, whereas the Blues are finding it hard to keep goals out. Carl Winchester has found form this season, after a tough time at the club so far, and by putting five past a strong Cheltenham side only signifies how good they are.
It could potentially be a long afternoon on Saturday. Cowley’s side need to be at the best of their ability because it’s going to be a difficult task.