Portsmouth 0 Ipswich 4: Neil Allen's verdict - Danny Cowley's problems pile up as wretched Blues unforgivably not up for the fight

Danny Cowley had questioned his team’s resilience and ability to respond to set-backs following a Rotherham capitulation.

Tuesday, 19th October 2021, 9:48 pm
Gavin Bazunu can only look on in horror as Macauley Bonne gives Ipswich a first-half lead against Pompey. Picture: Graham Hunt/ProSportsImages

After tonight’s Ipswich debacle, it’s no longer up for debate.

The Fratton faithful showed remarkable patience as their side meekly unravelled in front of them, nonetheless it was a dreadful display.

Once Gavan Bazunu’s shocking mistake had broken the deadlock, Cowley’s men yet again failed to respond in a manner befitting the Pompey shirt.

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No heart, no fight, no passion, no wonder they were booed off at the final whistle.

It was a wretched performance against former manager Paul Cook, who was enduring his own poor start to the season. That was until he returned to Fratton Park.

The Blues allowed Ipswich to play themselves into form, with a 4-0 hammering inspired by Conor Chaplin, and how the visiting fans savoured the occasion.

Despite attacking the Fratton End in the second half, it was a gutless second half from the wilting hosts.

Certainly this is a side which appears to lack leadership and desire. Woe betide anyone who cheerily attempts to claim otherwise.

If supporters were unsure where Pompey’s season is now heading, by mid-October it’s clear – they’ll be fortunate to break into the top half of the table at this rate.

Granted the match was tight up until the 41st minute, when Bazunu was caught in possession and Macauley Bonne capitalised.

Then in the second half, with growing inevitability, there were two goals in four minutes, with Chaplin scoring one and assisting the other for Sone Aluko.

Substitute Wes Burns completed the rout on 75 minutes – and it was damage limitation time.

A shocking Pompey display in a campaign in which they are beginning to pile up to leave them 17th in League One.

That’s four points off the relegation places – and seven adrift of the play-offs.

Ronan Curtis represented the only change to Pompey’s side for the visit of Cook’s side.

The Republic of Ireland international missed Saturday’s 4-1 defeat at Rotherham through a one-match suspension.

Yet he came in for Connor Ogilvie, who dropped to the bench following his comeback from injury at the New York Stadium.

The ensuing reshuffle potentially meant midfielder Shaun Williams dropping into a back three as Danny Cowley retained faith in his playing system.

That left Curtis operating as a left-sided attacker, with John Marquis and Marcus Harness joining him in forward positions.

Elsewhere, with Ogilvie dropping to the bench, Gassan Ahadme wasn’t included in the 18-man squad.

However, among the substitutes was Michael Jacobs, the player set to join Ipswich in August, only for the move to be pulled at the last minute.

Meanwhile, Paul Downing (hamstring), Ellis Harrison (ankle) and Clark Robertson (thigh) remain on the sidelines through injury.

When the match got underway, the Blues conceded a fourth-minute free-kick just outside the box down the left.

It eventually fell to Chaplin inside the box, who fired in an angled shot which was blocked by Kieron Freeman at the near post.

Then Lee Evans’ deep cross from the right was met with a Macauley Bonne header over the bar, although the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.

Curtis collected the game’s first booking on 13 minutes following a foul on Janoi Donacien in the right-hand corner near Ipswich’s goal.

There was an excellent Blues move on 15 minutes when Curtis flicked the ball on to send Lee Brown racing clear down the left-hand side.

The defender intelligently pulled the ball back, straight into the path of the onrushing Harness, who placed a first-time shot wide of the post.

It was a disappointing end from the attacker, who has been in fine scoring form of late and would have expected to have done better.

Harness was the next to go into the book after losing his head when the referee didn’t award a foul in his favour.

He subsequently brought down Sam Morsy with an ugly challenge on 17 minutes, with Ipswich’s skipper requiring treatment.

Referee Joshua Smith was beginning to irritate the Fratton faithful after missing several fouls, so there were sarcastic cheers on 29 minutes.

Curtis attempted to put distance between him and George Edmundson down the right flank, only for the defender to bring him down.

Fratton Park roared approval with a foul being awarded, with the Ipswich man also receiving a yellow card.

The deadlock was broken on 41 minutes through a huge mistake from Bazunu.

Pompey were playing the ball around at the back, with Sean Raggett passing it back to his keeper.

Bazunu had taken three touches before the chasing Bonne managed to dispossess him, then crashing it into the empty net from the tightest of angles, despite the keeper desperately trying to make amends.

In a game of few goalscoring opportunities so far, the loanee had handed the visitors the lead shortly before half-time.

Some boos greeted the sounding of the half-time whistle as Pompey went in trailing 1-0.

It took Ipswich just nine minutes into the second half to extend their lead through Chaplin.

Janoi Donacien crossed from the right and the former Pompey striker applied a classy first-time finish into the far bottom corner of the net.

The Blues were now 2-0 behind and giving very little indication that they are capable of finding a way back, despite 36 minutes remaining.

The position worsened on 58 minutes when Chaplin fed Aluko to the right and he took a touch before producing a right-footed finish to make it 3-0.

The ball somehow went through Bazunu and trickled into the net, with the keeper needing to do far better.

Pompey made their first substitution on 64 minutes, with Marquis replaced by George Hirst, a decision not entirely approved by the home support.

At the same time Wes Burns was introduced by Kyle Edwards by the visitors.

On 69 minutes, Reeco Hackett came on for Harness, representing the Blues’ second change.

It was 4-0 on 74 minutes when substitute Burns swept home Donacien’s cross from the right.

Late on there was sarcastic applause after Christian Walton saved Hirst’s powerful angled shot, but that was the lot.

The current indications are it’s going to be a long, hard season.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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