Pompey writer Jordan Cross examines the key factors in defeat at Sunderland - and whether there was any positives to take from the loss at the Stadium of Light
In a performance in which Pompey edged Sunderland in general play, the reasons for their downfall were clear.
And one of the primary factors once again was the delivery from wide areas letting down Kenny Jackett’s side.
They got in countless good positions to hurt the home side down both flanks, but continually failed to find the quality of crossing required.
Too often balls either failed to beat the first man or were sent in with too much pace or air.
Then there was the quality from dead-ball situations, with the right ingredients once again missing from corners and free-kicks.
It’s the second time in four games such deficiencies have clearly afflicted Jackett’s side. And if the answers aren’t quickly found there’s a danger it will stop the season getting off the ground.
One world-class goal conceded in three games spoke of a defence starting the campaign in miserly form.
But Pompey will be disappointed with the manner in which both goals were conceded against Sunderland.
The first certainly should’ve been prevented on a couple of occasions.
Lee Brown has been excellent so far this term, but was culpable in conceding a corner which Christian Burgess couldn’t prevent.
Then Jordan Willis was allowed to rise unchallenged to head past the exposed Craig MacGillivray, with Burgess the closest in attendance.
Jackett felt Pompey’s zonal marking let them down, while the manner of the goal coming from an out-swinging corner frustrated.
‘That was really poor from our point of view,’ he said, ‘It’s really difficult to score from an out-swinger directly. He’s put it straight in, so from our marking and our zone men it’s a poor one.’
The ricochet off Aiden McGeady was unfortunate for the second, but the manner in which Anton Walkes went to ground was unnecessary, and put Burgess on the back foot. McGeady took full advantage to provide Chris Maguire a crucial tap-in.
The hope has to be it’s a costly but unfortunate blip.
The hysteria on social media was perfectly in keeping with the norm on those platforms.
But those who examined the loss at Sunderland in a more reasoned manner were reaching different conclusions.
As detailed here, lapses at the back and crossing issues were the significant factors in defeat.
Pompey, however, clocked up 58 per cent possession to the home side’s 42 per cent.
They also created more chances and arguably the better of them, certainly after the break when they got on top.
John Marquis, Gareth Evans and Ross McCorie’s wicked delivery almost being steered in by Grant Leadbitter were the best opportunities.
Pompey also restricted the home side’s sights of goals in their periods of pressure.
So, Jackett certainly has some food for thought in one or two areas. But he doesn’t look a distance from riding the right ingredients for success.
And if that means changes in personnel and tweaks in formation against Coventry, then so be it.