Solution needed for Portsmouth's late goal woes - but positives to take from Oxford draw

Sports writer Lewis Mason picks out the main talking points from Pompey’s 1-1 League One draw against Oxford at Fratton Park…

Monday, 4th November 2019, 11:59 am
Lee Brown shows his frustration at the final whistle Picture: Joe Pepler

More late goal woes

It’s becoming the tale of Pompey’s stuttering season.

And lighting struck yet again as the Blues were held at home by in-form Oxford on Saturday.

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Matty Taylor headed home on 90 minutes to add to the growing list of teams Kenny Jackett’s men have conceded costly goals against in the closing stages this term.

Prior to Oxford salvaging a late point at Fratton Park, Pompey’s back-line had been breached in the final 10 minutes against nine-man Coventry, Wycombe, AFC Wimbledon and Bristol Rovers to lead to dropped points.

And it’s something the Blues must go about addressing quickly if they are to start climbing the table.

Jackett’s troops have now dropped eight points after conceding goals in the final 10 minutes this campaign.

If you add that tally to 16th-placed Pompey’s current haul of 18 points, the table would make for much more pleasant viewing for the Fratton faithful.

In fact, the Blues would be up in seventh place with the same points return as sixth-placed Coventry, Fleetwood and Oxford – all teams in the play-off places.

It’s difficult to understand why the worrying trend is continuing.

Whether it’s a case of scars from conceding late on now weighing on the players’ minds could be a factor.

The fact the Blues seem unable to find that clinical edge in front of goal could also be a subsequent issue.

But it’s something Jackett will be keen for his side to cut out as they aim to start climbing the table.


Lack of confidence

For all of Pompey’s good attacking play against Oxford, a lack of confidence in front of goal still exists.

There were a number of chances and good openings created by the fluid-looking Blues.

But Gareth Evans’ 58th-minute penalty was the only time former Blues goalkeeper Simon Eastwood was breached.

In the first half against the U’s, Gareth Evans drilled the ball into John Marquis, who found himself in the area.

But instead of attempting to turn and have a go at goal himself, he opted to lay the ball off to Ronan Curtis, whose goalbound effort was blocked by John Mousinho.

You feel that if the former Doncaster man, who bagged 26 goals last season, was full of confidence he would have opted to take it on himself.

The Blues were dominant after the restart as well, but still failed to net from open play.

Republic of Ireland international Curtis struck the crossbar, while Evans and Ryan Williams both spurned good chances.

You feel the opportunities will continue to arrive if the Blues replicate a strong second-half showing against the U’s.

But Pompey must start becoming more clinical and rediscover their confidence if they are to improve a scoring record of 16 goals in 14 League One matches this term.


Positive signs

Reflecting on Pompey’s draw with Oxford on post-match press duties, Gareth Evans said: ‘I think it's more alarming and more worrying if you're not getting the chances.

And there was plenty to be positive about on the back of what turned out to be another disappointing afternoon at Fratton Park.

The Blues were dominant for the majority and could have easily been out of sight prior to Taylor dealing the hosts a late blow.

Jackett went with the same team that started the draw with Bristol Rovers last time out.

And the signs point to Pompey’s attackers starting to become a force in the division.

There were some good moves between the Blues’ front men against the U’s and the chances arrived.

It came on the back of what was another positive attacking display at Bristol Rovers.

You feel, should the good attacking play continue, it’s only a matter of time before Pompey start finding their scoring touch.