Sub Christian Burgess' introduction signalled negativity - and Portsmouth paid the price against Coventry

Chief sports writer Neil Allen analyses the key factors in the 3-3 draw with Coventry – and whether positives can be drawn...

Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 2:17 pm
Updated Wednesday, 21st August 2019, 7:06 pm
At the final whistle, Paul Downing and Christian Burgess reflect on Pompey's frustrating 3-3 draw with Coventry. Picture: Robin Jones

Substitute controversy

Pre-match, some felt the omission of Christian Burgess was harsh, following two clean sheets in four matches.

Yet few would have wanted to see him on the Fratton Park pitch five minutes before full-time.

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Pompey may have been leading 3-2, yet it was proving to be a fragile defensive display from the hosts, who had handed Sean Raggett his full debut in place of Burgess.

Despite facing nine men, Kenny Jackett surprisingly opted to introduce Burgess for goal-scorer Gareth Evans in the 85th minute.

Pompey’s boss later explained he wanted to shore up his side defensively, while three centre-halves would allow his full-backs to attack down the flanks and exploit space.

However, for many Pompey supporters, it was a signal of negativity – and within a minute the game was level at 1-1.

There is an argument that a positive substitution, such as Brett Pitman, Ellis Harrison or Andy Cannon, would have injected more energy and attacking impetus against the tiring visitors.

Each of their presence could have distracted Coventry and forced them to defend more, rather than sitting back and inviting pressure to retain a lead.

Rusty Raggett

The loan signing from Norwich was handed only his sixth competitive appearance of 2019 in Tuesday night’s match.

In addition, he featured only twice during Pompey’s pre-season friendly schedule, largely the consequence of an elbow injury.

Understandably, he looked rusty in a maiden Blues full debut which ended in a 3-3 draw.

Jackett’s defence was shaky throughout the encounter, even when challenged by nine men, and it was a match to forget for Raggett.

Several ill-timed tackles were called up for fouls, while he lacked composure on the ball, usually preferring a safety-first approach.

These are, of course, early days for the centre-half, who suffered two ankle injuries in the first half of the year.

He will have the opportunity to show the Fratton faithful what he is truly capable of as the campaign progresses.

Ronan’s back

Considering his instant impact at Fratton Park following an arrival from the Irish league, Ronan Curtis has largely failed to live up to his high standards in 2019.

There was even justification to drop the talented winger for the visit of Coventry following a below-par start to the current campaign.

But the Irishman responded to Jackett’s continued faith in his ability with an encouraging performance reminiscent of his finest moments.

Ronan’s headed goal from Marcus Harness’ right-wing cross was his first since the 2-1 defeat at Charlton on March 9.

He also played a part in Pompey’s third goal, producing the clever backheel which allowed Brandon Haunstrup to cross for John Marquis to score.

What's more, during the first half especially, there were those characteristic bursts down the left flank, running directly at opponents.

Let’s just hope his mojo has returned.