Oxford United 2 Pompey 1
Pompey slipped to consecutive defeats yesterday for the first time this season. Two down at the interval, sub Brett Pitman pulled one back but they lacked the teeth to threaten their hosts lead.
Jackett made three changes leaving out Dion Donohue, Pitman and Andre Green – who has returned to Villa and bringing back Lee Brown, David Wheeler and Andy Cannon. Jamal Lowe played as the front man. New arrival Bryn Morris had to be content with a place on the bench.
Pompey found themselves two down at the interval. Firstly Cameron Brannagan was allowed room to hit a twenty-five-yard shot passed MacGillivray and on the stroke of half time Jamie Mackie and James Henry were given an eternity in the box for the latter to fire home number two.
Jackett did change things on the hour sending on Pitman and Louis Dennis for Gareth Evans and David Wheeler and the two subs combined to allow Pitman to net with a superb overhead kick.
That gave Dennis an assist on his long overdue league debut but Pompey huffed and puffed and achieved nothing in the remaining thirty minutes.
With Luton thumping Peterborough the lead is now just one point.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Cannon (Donohue 76), Naylor; Wheeler (Pitman 59), Evans (c) (Dennis 59), Curtis; Lowe
Goals: Pitman 64
Booked: Lowe, Whatmough, Naylor
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, Morris
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 8,202 (1,803 Pompey fans)
The Blues boss told the club website: “But we’ve had games like that this season – particularly in the first half – and got to the break without conceding. Their first goal had some quality, but we had long enough to be able to clear the second and should have done better.
“We got one back following good work from Louis and Brett, but there was still a lack of clear-cut chances after that. I don’t think we really did enough with our possession and couldn’t quite find that incisive pass to trouble them.
“We haven’t had too many troubles defensively in the past two games, but our combinations up front are obviously something we need to work on. It was a defeat the previous week, so we changed it and tried to use the mobility of those guys in the front three. I can’t say that it particularly worked, but if we’d not given any goals away then we’d have had longer to look at it.”
Pompey left-back Lee Brown also told the official site: “Is it a crisis? No. It might feel like it now, but you have to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. We’ve won some very tight games this season and this just happens to be one of those times when we haven’t. It’s hard to put your finger on why you lose and you can over-analyse things. You’re going to get these matches. We don’t need to change too much because then you go away from what we’ve done so well in the first half of the season.
“Of course the boys are hurting and it’s frustrating, but that’s the first time this season we’ve lost back-to-back games. Even at the end, I thought we might be able to get something after we scored, but unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. We’ve done well to give ourselves a cushion, which meant we could lose a couple and still be top of the league.
“We’ll stay together and keep working – the fans know that this group of players aren’t going to roll over.”
Chimes comment – there is no need to panic but there is a need for action. Pompey have two cup games next week and that gives them a chance to experiment with different formations and personnel. The problem is quite a number of players are either cup-tied or in Lowe’s case suspended for the QPR match.
It is obvious that often maligned Oli Hawkins was the lynchpin of the side and he is sorely missed with no other member of the squad capable of filling his boots.
The transfer window is open and Pompey are actively seeking more forward power but then how many other sides are doing that at present?
Pompey completed the signing of Bryn Morris from Shrewsbury Town for a nominal fee and we anticipated last week. Craig MacGillivray his former teammate at the Shrews really rates Morris and feels he can replace departed loanee Ben Thompson.
Andre Green has been recalled by Aston Villa which is always the downside of the loan system. As with Ben Thompson Pompey are victims of their own success and that is why they have gone. If we were struggling then the chances are they would still be finishing the season at Fratton Park.
Jack Whatmough has signed a contract extension to finally put to bed those stupid rumours linking him with Rangers, Celtic and Aberdeen for a paltry £115,000.
Danny Rose has signed for Swindon Town until the end of the season. Good luck Danny and thanks for everything.
Not really a transfer but good to see that young Croatian keeper Petar Durin had received his FIFA clearance and made his debut for the Academy after a six-month wait. He saved a penalty too against Plymouth in a 1-0 win.
Who were Pompey watching when seen on a scouting mission in Portugal during the week?
Kenny has stated he wants two more players including a striker but no rumours yet of who is being considered. I expect it to come out of the blue as Pompey keep their cards close to the chest.
Who didn’t enjoy David Nugent’s penalty celebration on Wednesday night live on BBC1?
Portuguese Primeira Liga side Tondela are the stars of this week’s And finally… with four of the green and yellow striped knackers conspiring to miss an open goal against Chaves. The main culprit, however, has to be forward Cristian Arango with some very ropey finishing. Incidentally – they lost.
As always thanks to the FSF for that nugget.