Gaffer: Not doom and gloom for Portsmouth facing out-of-form Sunderland in the play-offs

Goalscorer Ben Close was the man-of-the-match choice from Gaffer for a Day, Simon Reeves. Picture: Joe Pepler
Goalscorer Ben Close was the man-of-the-match choice from Gaffer for a Day, Simon Reeves. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Gaffer for a Day, Simon Reeves, aged 35 from Newbury, assesses Pompey’s 1-1 draw with Accrington...

So Sunderland it is, then. Again.

We missed out on third place after failing to beat Accrington in a game there for the taking.

Kenny Jackett said it was a fair result, but the annoying thing is we shot ourselves in the foot again. We could be playing Doncaster – but now have another two games against Sunderland.

I wouldn’t have chosen to play them before yesterday, but they are on a worse run than us looking at current form, so it’s not all doom and gloom.

I fancy us going back to Wembley, probably against Charlton, who knows?

Who stood out for you?

There weren’t many positives, but I liked how Ben Close and Tom Naylor dominated the midfield for a team which didn’t really create too much.

The reason why we grind out so many wins is because those two make us solid, obviously apart from against Peterborough last week.

Close is my man of the match and has really filled the gap left by Ben Thompson in a way nobody expected.

He has a hell of a shot on him and holds things together with Naylor superbly.

What did you make of the five changes?

We started with a front four which was not our best – and it showed.

I noticed Bryn Morris dropping very deep from the number 10 role so we weren’t able to get forward quickly, whereas Brett Pitman usually sits quite high up.

I don't think the second-string front four is a patch on our first choice. Without Pitman in the middle to stitch it all together we looked short of ideas.

Those changes will be vindicated if we beat Sunderland, with a fresh Jamal Lowe making the difference.

Matt Clarke received 13 player of the season awards before the match. Did he get your vote?

It was the right choice, but Naylor should be behind him.

Naylor will get you out of jail, he sits in the middle like a League One Lassana Diarra, getting everywhere to make tackles. He is the backbone to our resilience.

Clarke, though, is clearly a step above everybody else and, it pains me to say this, if we don’t get promotion he will leave this summer.

He’s not quite ready for the Premier League at present, but I can see him getting there some day.

Craig MacGillivray 7

Anton Walkes 6

Christian Burgess 7

Matt Clarke 7

Lee Brown 7

Tom Naylor 8

Ben Close 8

Gareth Evans 6

Bryn Morris 5 (Ronan Curtis 7)

Viv Solomon-Otabor 6

Oli Hawkins 6