Back To Square One

Last updated : 02 February 2014 By Jim Bonner

Pompey have been dragged right back into the relegation dogfight after a desperately disappointing defeat to fellow strugglers Torquay United at Fratton Park.

It was a terrible game which started very slowly, with neither side having anything to shout about although the visiting fans did cheer a free kick hitting the roof of the net when they thought they had scored.

If there was ever a moment to sum up the match it would have been when referee Dean Whitestone intercepted a Pompey attack from a short corner to incur the wrath of the home fans but that anger would be directed towards the players later in the game.

Torquay took the lead courtesy of some poor defending as Josh Labadie's cross found its way to an unmarked Billy Bodin who lashed the ball past Trevor Carson who could do nothing about it other than yell at his defenders for allowing the cross to happen in the first place.

Ricky Holmes came closest to scoring in the first half with his goalbound effort from outside the box being blocked by Dale Tonge but it was certainly a half to forget for the Blues.

The second half wasn't much better as although there was a definite improvement on Pompey's play, Torquay's defence were not being troubled.

There were a few moves down the wings which ended in the ball either being crossed too close to the goalkeeper or being blazed high or wide by a Pompey player in the box.

The substitutes in Patrick Agyemang, Wes Fogden and Andy Barcham couldn't change the game with the highlight of it being the fox that ran across the front of the Milton End, cue the predictable Ylvis quips about what the fox would have said about Pompey's turgid performance.

There were desperate shouts for a penalty at the death when Agyemang slammed the ball into the arm of a Torquay player but it could hardly have been ruled as deliberate.

The final whistle blew and the team were booed off again with a smattering of fans in the Fratton End singing "What a load of rubbish!" and "You're not fit to wear the shirt!" having witnessed another home defeat to a team struggling at the bottom of the league.

The match seemed to follow a pattern of many Fratton Park games this season where Pompey have been poor in the first half and improved to a degree in the second but not enough to win matches due to a lack of creativity in the side.

Some fans were quick to criticise Pompey's supposed lack of desire yesterday but in all honesty the effort is there but the quality is not. Torquay scored with their only decent chance of the whole match but it was still better than any of the chances created by the entire Pompey team.

People will be quick to point out that Torquay are a poor team, as highlighted by their terrible league position but virtually every opposition team has raised their game when they come to Fratton Park whilst our own players seem to buckle under the pressure of playing in front of 14,000 Pompey fans who are quick to get on their backs because the expectation is still ridiculously high. Add those two factors together and it's no wonder that Pompey are struggling to perform at home.

However, yesterday's showing was exactly the same type of performance as the win at Wycombe on Tuesday only without the good fortune and although Richie Barker's men will all graft, there simply isn't enough quality in this team at the moment to put together a winning run of matches.

Look at the players in our squad who should be capable of creating things. Jed Wallace is too inconsistent and was poor again yesterday, Romain Padovani is too sluggish, Andy Barcham looks a shadow of the player he did at the start of the season and Ricky Holmes isn't the player to produce a killer pass or score an important goal.

The only player Pompey had in that mould scored for Oxford United yesterday and you have to wonder how much Richie Barker is going to rue that decision come the end of the season.

The result now leaves Portsmouth in a perilous position; just three points above the relegation zone and every team below them with at least one game in hand. A trip to Exeter is next up so hopefully some more comfort can be found away from home as Richie Barker's team seems to be set up better for matches on the road.

Pompey Player Ratings

Trevor Carson: 6 - Little to do.

Daniel Alfei: 6 - Solid enough.

Joe Devera: 6 - Average.

Ben Chorley: 6 - Made some crucial blocks but might be blamed for goal.

Marcos Painter: 5 - Not so good going forward.

Ricky Holmes: 6 - Pompey's biggest threat.

Romain Padovani: 4 - Constantly gave the ball away.

Nicky Shorey: 5 - Struggled to keep up.

Jed Wallace: 5 - Frustrating.

Ryan Taylor: 6 - Worked hard.

Jake Jervis: 5 - No impact on the game.


Phil Smith

Sonny Bradley

Johnny Ertl

Thery Racon

Wes Fogden (Padovani 73): N/A - Why was he dropped?

Andy Barcham (Painter 79): N/A - Didn't change anything.

Patrick Agyemang (Jervis 63): 5 - Still doesn't look fully fit.