Portsmouth's attacking spark missing once more with forward quality absent in Rochdale failure

Michael Jacobs remained sat on the Pompey bench for 66 minutes at Spotland.

Sunday, 20th September 2020, 5:35 pm

Kenny Jackett’s men were lacking in penetration and presence in the final third against opposition roundly touted for League One relegation this term.

And it’s that inability to find the right ingredients and combinations going forward which has been a theme of a season in its infancy, and, some would say, much of recent times under Jackett.

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For too long, bodies were lacking in forward areas with wrong decisions made or just poor quality in the execution.

The charge intensified as the afternoon wore on, as Pompey eventually found the tempo and intensity which was required from outset.

They gave their opponents a scoreline to hold on to, however, by not starting how they finished.

And when the opportunities did arrive they failed to take them - with John Marquis in particular guilty when missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities.

John Marquis is dejected after a missed chance at Rochdale (Photo by Daniel Chesterton/phcimages.com)

Jackett made three changes from the team who were ran into the ground against Brighton on Thursday night.

Cameron Pring, James Bolton and Ryan Williams were the players to make way as Andy Cannon, Callum Johnson and Lee Brown came in less than 72 hours on from the Amex Stadium battering.

For 45 minutes, John Marquis became an increasingly frustrated figure as he spent most of the half too isolated and lacking in support as Pompey failed to get enough bodies forward.

When they did get in advanced areas, largely through Ronan Curtis and Marcus Harness, the quality of the final ball was found wanting.

It was no surprise to see Marquis’ body language displaying frustrating and distress as the half wore on – but his day was to get much, much worse.

His sentiments were echoed for those viewing the Blues’ set-pieces.

The quality was dreadful at Brighton on Thursday and that pattern continued in the first 45 minutes.

Rochdale’s passing philosophy is a credit to their Irish manager Brian Barry-Murphy.

It’s a high press from his side, goal-kicks out from the back, centre-halves spread far apart and full-backs bombing on, in the kind of approach usually seen at the highest level.

It was a positive to see Pompey largely negate their expansive play with the back four mostly comfortable and shielded by Tom Naylor and Bryn Morris.

The stoic approach was at the expense of attacking verve, however, with the balance needing to be redressed at the break.

To Pompey’s credit they dominated after the restart, and the feeling was if they’d played that way from the outset their opponents would never have lived with them.

But poor finishing then conspired to deny them the win with 22 shots racked up.

The worst of it was Marquis rolling a first-time shot wide four minutes after the restart and a couple of late headers - the second he simply had to score from a couple of yards, as he gave Gavin Bazunu the chance to pull off a fine stop.

It’s evident Jacobs is not yet fit enough to feature from the outset.

The arrival from Wigan getting fit can’t come soon enough, as Pompey’s impotency saw them denied a win at the kind of venue you need to be victorious at to be promotion contenders.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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