Pompey 4 Oxford United 1
Pompey maintained their 100% record with a convincing win over pointless Oxford United at Fratton Park yesterday afternoon.
Kenny made changes from the Carabao cup defeat in the week switching to 4-3-3 with loanee Ben Thompson making his debut. There was no return to the Park for United’s Ricky Holmes and Simon Eastwood both injured.
After a slow start Pompey took firm control and on twenty-five minutes were awarded a penalty when Oli Hawkins was scythed down after stealing possession. Sadly, Gareth Evans saw his kick well saved by keeper Jonathan Mitchell low to his left. The other memory of the half was referee Swabey handing out cards to visiting players like Clintons, even Oxford coach Shaun Derry received one.
After the interval, Pompey proceeded to cut Oxford to ribbons with some beautiful flowing football. On 48 minutes Jamal Lowe crossed and Hawkins set up Evans to make amends for his earlier miss with the opener.
Eight minutes later Lowe created havoc again and his cross was arrowing towards Evans before defender Dickie threw himself at the ball and diverted it into his own net. Ten minutes later after United boss, Karl Robinson had made a triple substitution Evans sent in a corner which was flicked on by Matt Clarke and Hawkins for Lowe to apply the finishing touch.
Pompey smelt blood and went for the kill but in doing so left the back door open and were lucky to only to concede just once after a brilliant save from Craig MacGillivray and the left-hand post twice denied the suddenly awoken visitors. That goal came off the unfortunate Jack Whatmough.
With six minutes added the few Oxford fans left in the ground saw a chance but that soon extinguished by Lowe. He started the move himself by controlling the ball on his shoulder and was then set free by Naylor. Lowe ran on to the edge of the box turned back inside his marker and bent a beautiful over and around Mitchell. A truly excellent strike.
So it was a convincing Pompey win but they MUST cut out the errors that affected their play later on with players caught out of position or ball watching but no doubt that will come with familiarity and Jackett will be working on that before the two Rovers’ trips this week – Bristol and Doncaster.
Ben Thompson proved what Millwall fans had said of him was true and his performance won over his new fans immediately. He was given the man of the match by the sponsors. I would have plumped for Gareth Evans despite his failure from twelve yards.
Up to second place with something to build on. Pompey are not yet the finished article but Kenny has shopped well and they are moving in the right direction. Hawkins does give Pompey a presence up front and works harder than Brett Pitman but is nothing like as good a finisher. I read in the press in the week that Pompey fans were expecting a hard winter, not near me they weren’t.
There are harder tests ahead but a good start is something we are not used to (see below) so why not be optimistic Pompey are on the rise and getting to the Championship is what we all want. But we do not want to blow the bank in trying to do it. Will Kenny get a striker on loan and let Conor Chaplin go in the other direction? We will see in the next few days. There is also the question mark on the future of Danny Rose who did not make the bench yesterday.
Pompey (4-3-3): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Evans (c), B.Thompson; Lowe, Hawkins, Curtis (Wheeler 80)
Goals: Evans 48, Dickie 56 (og), Lowe 65, 90+2
Booked: Naylor, Thompson B
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Haunstrup, Close, Chaplin, Pitman
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 18,093 (1,312 away fans)
Not too often have Pompey started the season with back to back wins, in fact, most will know that the last time was in 1988/89 after relegation from the top flight when three wins on the trot saw the season off to a great start.
There are in fact five other cases of consecutive wins since the last war and most of them ended up with a successful season. Seasons 1954/55, 1961/62 and 1982/83 saw two wins and the latter two of those ended in title wins and the first saw Pompey finish third in Division One.
1980/81 was a promoted Blues start with four wins but an inconsistent term saw Pompey finish sixth. But the best start was the previous season when five back to back wins were strung together before defeat at Tranmere. They then won five more before the season began to stumble along ending in promotion just on the final day at Northampton. I those ten wins Pompey scored thirty-one goals.
And finally… dummheit
Bayern Munich put five past Frankfurt this week in a one-sided affair. Amidst the pummelling, however, was this gem of a miss from Sandro Wagner. Somehow skewing it wide from two yards… Watch it here