Promotion dream is real - Pompey haven't suddenly lost the plot

It's always easy to point fingers and apportion blame in the aftermath of a loss.

Sunday, 19th March 2017, 8:12 pm
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:11 am
David Forde shouts orders at Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle during Pompey's 3-0 loss to Stevenge: Joe Pepler

And with the ease in which Stevenage inflicted Pompey’s biggest defeat of the season, there’s plenty of ammunition for the disenchanted to launch an attack.

But what’s the point in kicking the Blues when they’re down? For rubbing salt into the wound?

Especially after a recent run that propelled the side into the automatic promotion places for the first time since September and provided us with so many highlights – no matter how brief.

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Paul Cook and his players all know the level of performance wasn’t acceptable on Saturday.

They recognise their deployment of a 3-5-2 formation for the visit to the Lamex Stadium didn’t work.

They don’t need reminding that a defeat of this size – particularly against a promotion rival – isn’t what is expected of a team with serious ambitions of going up.

Nor should we have to tell them that three league wins in the space of a week doesn’t define a season.

Cook & Co appreciate there’s still work to be done and nothing can be taken for granted.

Saturday’s defeat was so disappointing.

But it should be viewed no more than a blip, a setback, a bad day at the office, a lesson we can learn from.

Of course we would all love Pompey to be hurtling to the promotion finishing line like a juggernaut with added fuel-injection features.

Yet, as this season has proven, this is a division which is defined by inconsistencies.

The Blues are simply just fitting the profile of teams who operate at this level.

No side has escaped the scourge of League Two’s unpredictable nature – not even league leaders Doncaster Rovers or second-placed Plymouth, who have both encountered troubles along the way.

The key is how teams respond to these hitches.

The surprise defeat to Crewe on March 4 inspired a Blues run that jettisoned them back into the top three and had fans drooling.

And there’s no reason to suggest a similar run cannot be repeated with fixtures against Newport, Hartlepool and Yeovil on the horizon – regardless of the loss at Stevenage.

This team hasn’t all of a sudden hit a brick wall, Cook hasn’t finally lost the plot, the goals haven’t dried up, the defence isn’t broken.

Promotion is still in Pompey’s hands and the belief among the management and players remains.

Although, please let it be the last time we see a 3-5-2 formation this season!