The key Charlton v Portsmouth questions answered: Marcus Harness, John Marquis, the defence, the Blues' performance, and the fans
Following Pompey’s 2-2 draw with Charlton on Saturday, there were a number of key talking points from the Valley up for discussion.
Despite taking the lead twice against the Addicks, the Blues’ winless run was extended to seven matches in all competitions as they were pegged back on each occasion.
Pompey were very much in the ascendency for the longs spells in south London, but lapses in defensive concentration cost them as they did four days prior in the 2-2 draw with Plymouth.
Here, we get chief sports writer Neil Allen’s final thoughts on the game and his verdict on some of the match’s key talking points...
Q: So what is your verdict on the draw with Charlton?
I really enjoyed that Pompey performance, just as I did with the Plymouth game.
The system that Danny Cowley has changed to has increased the tempo and attacking capabilities.
Saturday’s performance, for me, was the best first-half display I’ve seen from Pompey this season.
They should have been out of sight in the first half really. They played the ball around nicely, and Marcus Harness and Ronan Curtis were finally firing really.
There was so much to like about that performance.
Joe Morrell impressed once again, and we’ve seen the best of him across the past two games.
There was so much positivity to take from the game, despite the massive disappointment of a late equaliser, and only collecting a point.
Q: Will we begin to see the best of Marcus Harness after a great performance capped with a goal?
He’s a frustrating player because he has the ability.
He can score goals, and is a completely better player than Ryan Williams was last year as well, and they did alternate at times.
Previous managers have talked about how he has the ability to cross on the run, which not many players do.
It’s all there, but that’s what makes it frustrating as we don’t see it enough.
For me, that was by far his best performance of the season and you just hope Danny Cowley can somehow unlock that form.
Q: How does Danny Cowley tighten the defence?
He’s definitely waiting for Connor Ogilvie to come back as he’s played a lot of games at centre-half as well.
He’s not an attacking left-back, and he’s not really equipped to be a left-wing-back.
He’s more of a defensive player, so he will slot in nicely to that back three which is a natural fit.
Of course, Paul Downing’s on the bench but Cowley’s playing Kieron Freeman as a right-sided centre-half.
What Freeman does do is that he brings the ball out and he pops up in attacking positions rather than staying back like a conventional centre-half.
There’s definitely a lot to like about Pompey as an attacking force in this system, but as Cowley said himself, he doesn’t like how they are defensively.
Q: Over 3000 Pompey fans travelled to the Valley, how good was their support again?
It was quite amusing, because in comparison to the home fans whose side were 1-0 down inside six minutes, they were singing about the manager and the home fans were getting increasingly frustrated.
Had Marquis scored the chance he had in the 19th minute, the atmosphere would have turned toxic.
The Charlton fans were waiting to turn, and for all the stick that Pompey fans gave Nigel Adkins through his Southampton links, he was getting far worse from his own fans.
It made for a fascinating spectacle really.
Q: Will Danny Cowley continue to play John Marquis up front?
A: I think it’s telling that we’ve been talking about John Marquis and his goals for well over a year now.
He’s played 108 games, when is it going to happen? When is it going to click?
On the other hand, he is extremely effective for the team due to his work-rate and his pressing from the front.
Cowley values that very, very highly, and that’s a real strength for Pompey, but he just needs to score goals.
I believe his record is eight goals in his past 41 appearances and one goal in 10 this season.
Cowley likes what he brings in other areas so he’ll keep playing him, and sooner or later he will score as the law of averages state.
The sooner or later could happen because he may play every game, but how many games do you give someone to rediscover their form, or to convince you they’ve been a good signing for this football club?
Q: What challenges will Burton give Pompey tomorrow?
A: Jimmy Floyd-Hasslebaink has done a phenomenal job at that football club. He came back in January last season and rescued them completely and they were superb at Fratton Park that year, too.
It’s a tough, tough game and Pompey will need to tighten up defensively if they’re to win at the Pirelli Stadium - it’s as simple as that.
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