Pompey 1 Scunthorpe United 1
Pompey earned a hard-fought point at Fratton Park yesterday afternoon in a 1-1 draw with high flying Scunny.
Kenny Jackett managed to name a strong side with all the threats about injuries but it was a change in the formation which fooled most fans. Kal Naismith and Brett Pitman came in for Adam May and Matt Kennedy in the side beaten by Chelsea in midweek but it was the fact that no formation was announced on the official site that made me suspicious.
The site in their match report suggested a 3-4-1-2 but once the game started to me it seemed more like 3-1-4-2 with Nathan Thompson sitting effectively in front of a back three of Oli Hawkins, Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke. Jamal Lowe and Dion Donohue played wide with Ben Close and Connor Ronan in the centre and Pitman and Naismith up top.
Whatever it was effective and caught Scunthorpe napping in the first period with Lowe robbing a defender and hitting his shot in off the far post. Pompey continued to dominate the rest of the first half but Scunny were always a danger on the break.
After the break the tables were turned and Pompey on the back foot and their second chance of the half saw them level. Hawkins lost a high ball in the air and the ball was crossed for van Veen to beat a hesitant Clarke to the ball and fire past Luke McGee.
This was a game that in the past Pompey would have lost but they battled away and with McGee making several smart interceptions they even created chances to win it.
So, the game ended in Pompey`s first league draw since Wigan (A) back in August and Pompey drop out of the top six for now. Connor Ronan looks a very good addition to the squad and certainly adds something that has been missing.
Pompey (3-4-1-2): McGee; Hawkins, Burgess, Clarke; Lowe, Close, Thompson, Donohue (May 71); Ronan (Kennedy 71); Pitman (c), Naismith
Goals: Lowe 15
Booked: Clarke, Hawkins
Subs not used: Bass, Casey, Deslandes, Bennett, Chaplin
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Attendance: 17,741 (386 away fans)
Afterwards Pompey`s assistant manager Joe Gallen told the official site “It was probably the old game of two halves because we played really well before the break. Jamal hadn`t found the net since the Fleetwood match in September and he fancies himself as a goalscorer. When you don`t do that your confidence can drop, but he took the ball in his stride really well and it was a clinical finish from him.
“Connor Ronan played very well in the middle of the pitch and that didn`t surprise me because he`s a natural footballer with a good brain. Another goal would have really helped us and perhaps our performance against a strong Scunthorpe side deserved that.
“We expected them to come at us in the second half and it was disappointing to concede early, but overall I felt it was a well-earned point for both teams. It should give everyone belief that we can go toe-to-toe with the best sides in this division and I feel we can beat anyone here.”
Personally, I believe that Oli Hawkins is a good emergency centre back but if anything he detracts from the strength of the Burgess and Clarke partnership. If Kenny wants to play a back three then he needs another central defender or wait for Jack to get fit.
Saturday Pompey travel to the New York Stadium for the first time to play Rotherham United. It is a fixture that dates back to 1959 when Pompey lost 2-1 at Millmoor with the late Harry Harris scoring the Pompey goal.
The last visit to United`s old stadium saw Pompey on their way to the to the Division One title with Vincent Pericard, Svetoslav Todorov and a Paul Merson penalty earned 3-2 win.
Breath of fresh air
Not too long ago the manager at Pompey would constantly refer to be ‘down to the bare bones` as an excuse for an upcoming poor performance. I think we all got fed up with it.
It was refreshing this week when the current incumbent of the managerial chair when faced with a mounting injury crisis simply told his squad to ‘get on with it`.
Well done Kenny!
Apologies no videos this week – have been struck down with the bug but will get on the case again really soon.