The importance of being Tom Naylor and the set-piece sensations as Portsmouth road warriors do it again
All the talk has been of Pompey setting a new club record for consecutive wins at Tranmere, but there was much to glean from the win at Prenton Park besides the new landmark. Jordan Cross gives the final verdict on another Blues victory.
Tom Naylor is one of the two Pompey players who looks set to break 100 appearances across his two-season stay at Fratton Park.
Pompey’s EFL Trophy obligations have provided the skipper with his only respite across the past 15 games - a run stretching back to the 2-2 draw with Peterborough in December.
Naylor once again did what Naylor does at Prenton Park as he broke up Tranmere’s attempts to gain momentum with his destructive play.
The 28-year-old can smell danger with one of his best attributes being his ability to read the game and put his foot in when opponents’ moves develop through the middle third of the pitch.
Jackett believes his 26-man squad has the kind of depth and quality to sustain a promotion bid.
One slight concern, however, is the lack of like-for-like replacement if Naylor is to be taken out of the equation.
Pompey aren’t awash with players with the same destructive attributes, with Ross McCrorie the nearest of Naylor’s ilk but the Scot being seen primarily as a right-back.
The hope then will be Naylor is able to maintain the levels of fitness he has in his Fratton career to date.
Rags to Riches
The love for Sean Raggett in the wake of his maiden Pompey goal was heartening.
For a player who’s been maligned by supporters at times this season it’s been some turnaround for the defender.
It was a difficult start to the Norwich loanee’s Blues career as he struggled for momentum off the back of injuries.
And his no-nonsense ‘head it, kick it’ style of play hasn’t been to everyone’s taste.
But there’s been many who’ve gone before the 26-year-old who went on become cult figures by adopting the same approach.
Raggett is starting to head down that road as his game finds a level of consistency off the back of 15 games on the spin.
Getting his maiden goal will also help to endear him to fans, not that the low-maintenance man needs the love to justify how his performing. As Raggett himself says, 20 wins and five draws from his 28 appearances this term is decent evidence on that front .
Away to Win
The count read 11 shots to three in favour of League One strugglers Tranmere at half-time.
By full-time it 16 efforts on goal to Pompey’s nine as Micky Mellon’s side failed to make the most of their opportunities.
For all their attempts on goal, Alex Bass wasn’t overly worked with just a couple of first-half saves from Blues old boy James Vaughan required.
Pompey’s defending was again excellent as they picked up their fourth clean sheet on the bounce, with organisation and desire two of the key qualities on display.
And then there is their set-piece master, with it now 12 of their past 20 goals from open play arriving from a corner or free-kick.
Mellon referenced the difference in resolve between the sides as the key factor in the game’s outcome. He wasn’t wrong as Pompey once again find a way to win on the road.