The truth behind set-piece failings responsible for 46 per cent of Portsmouth goals conceded

Of the goals shipped by Pompey this season, 46 per cent have arrived through set-piece situations.

Wednesday, 13th November 2019, 5:00 pm
A dejected Tom Naylor contemplates conceding from another set-piece in Monday night's 2-1 victory at Harrogate Town. Pixture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep

That is the sobering statistic which continues to apply the handbrake to the Blues’ promotion ambition.

A total of 24 goals have been let in during 22 fixtures in all competitions.

However, it is the manner in which they have occurred which is hugely alarming – with 11 of the 24 stemming from dead-ball moments.

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Penalties aside, Kenny Jackett’s side have conceded following free-kicks, short free-kicks, throw-ins and corners.

It’s a disturbing weakness the manager has referred to as the ‘Achilles heel’ in this desperately-disappointing campaign to date.

The latest troubling example was during Monday night’s 2-1 FA Cup victory at Harrogate Town.

In the seventh minute, following George Smith’s free-kick, three Harrogate players headed the ball before it entered the net. Not one Pompey player managed a touch.

It represents the fifth set-piece goal let in during Pompey’s last eight matches alone, yet this is far from a recent issue.

The League One curtain raiser saw Ryan Giles win it for Shrewsbury, although, despite the quality of his left-footed strike, it arrived following a short free-kick, the midfielder allowed two touches unhindered before crashing home from 30 yards.

At Sunderland, Jordan Willis levelled with a header from Grant Leadbitter’s right-wing corner, the hosts going on to win 2-1.

In the 3-3 draw with Coventry, the visitors grabbed their second from the penalty spot after Ben Close’s foul following a corner, while Michael Rose’s leveller emanated from a long throw down the right.

Another throw-in forced Sean Raggett into a

mistake for Norwich under-21s’ consolation in their 4-1 defeat, while Tom Naylor handled a corner to gift Wycombe a decisive penalty.

At Oxford United in the Trophy, Rob Dickie controlled a free-kick on his chest before swivelling with right-footed finish.

Meanwhile, AFC Wimbledon’s Terell Thomas headed home Max Sanders’ free-kick to win at the death.

Finally, late drama saw Bristol Rovers fight back to earn a 2-2 draw – one arriving from a free-kick, the other a corner, both down the left.

This is Pompey set-piece fragility which is not so much a lapse in concentration, but a crippling malaise.