Portsmouth finally break their grey curse while importance of keeper's at Rochdale shouldn't go underestimated

Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the talking points from Pompey’s 3-0 victory at Rochdale on Saturday...

Monday, 25th November 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 4:20 pm

The curse of grey is over

It was an observation some supporters pointed out ahead of the trip to Spotland.

The curse of the grey away kit, it was being dubbed, due to Pompey failing to win in the strip this campaign.

Sign up to our Portsmouth FC newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It had only been in the purple third jersey away that Kenny Jackett’s troops had been successful on the road, defeating QPR and Doncaster.

Lee Brown quashed any notion that wearing grey had a psychological effect on players during Mark Catlin’s monthly Q&A that was filmed on Thursday.

And it proved exactly that way. If there was any sort of hoodoo then Kev the Kitman must have been the witch doctor who conjured up the cure during his drive up the M6.

As away performances go, this was archetypal and reminiscent of last season when Pompey were League One’s ultimate road warriors.

Craig MacGillivray celebrates Pompey's win. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

Those who didn’t make the trip to Greater Manchester must have thought the Blues were forced into a rearguard action when running the rule over the stats at home.

The hosts monopolised the ball, having 73 per cent possession in the first half.

It was the opposite, however. Pompey were happy to soak up the pressure and the hosts were limited to a dearth of goalscoring opportunities.

When foraying forward, the visitors were clinical and the scoreline could have been even more emphatic with Ryan Williams missing a golden chance and Oli Hawkins heading off the bar.

Ryan Williams celebrates Pompey's third goal at Rochdale. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com

Jackett’s side won't don the grey strip again until Accrington on December 14. For any fan that is superstitious then fears can now be allayed.

Marvellous Mac

Despite Pompey being in firm control after Ronan Curtis had doubled the lead, thoughts of a potential comeback still seeped in.

While the Blues looked comfortable at the back, the horrors of Bristol Rovers, Oxford and AFC Wimbledon was a reminder that the three points were far from sealed.

If Callum Camps had have found the back of the net in the 65th minute then another collapse might well have happened.

The Rochdale midfielder cracked a ferocious right-footed effort that was heading for the top corner – only for Craig MacGillivray to make a flying save and tipped the shot over the bar.

It gave the hosts refreshed impetus, with another chance to reduce the deficit from a corner.

That’s another situation the Blues have been vulnerable this term. However, MacGillivray quickly put paid to any fears by confidently coming off his line and collecting the corner.

Those few seconds shouldn’t go underestimated as it ensured Jackett’s side didn’t let Rochdale back into the clash and ultimately ended their hopes of a fightback.

And in the end MacGillivray collected a deserved sixth clean sheet of the season.

The real acid test approaching

Pompey simply couldn’t drop points at Spotland.

Brian Barry-Murphy’s side had lost their past four games and had played 180 minutes of football since the Blues’ last outing at Harrogate.

It proved a convincing success, with the Kenny Jackett-out brigade staying silent for the most part on social media afterwards.

But after putting a Rochdale side who’ll likely finish no higher than mid-table to the sword, now Pompey turn their attention to the real acid test.

Rotherham visit Fratton Park on Tuesday night and two sides with designs on promotion will do battle.

The Millers’ win at MK Dons moved them up to fourth in the table and on the road they've been a potent force.

The noises being made by the players and coaching staff is that a corner has been turned and there's still plenty of scope for improvement.

If a similar performance against Paul Warne’s side is delivered then members of the Fratton faithful may start believing that sentiment.

But should the Blues suffer a loss then the Twitter reaction is likely to be rife with unhappy grumblings again.