Business As Usual

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 20 November 2011

There might have been a new manager in charge but yesterday was a case of "same old story" as Pompey were once again beaten at Vicarage Road following a truly dire performance.

The optimism of over 1,700 travelling fans was crushed within 75 seconds as Michael Kightly's long range shot was deflected into the back of the net, leaving Stephen Henderson stranded.

Although there were 88 minutes to get back into the game, it never looked likely as Watford continued to open up a disorganised Pompey defence. It was only down to the poor accuracy of their forwards that Appleton's men weren't further behindduring the first half.

Luke Varney came closest to scoring for the visitors in the first half. He struck a tame shot directly at Scott Loach and then was denied a clear run at goal by a last-ditch challenge from Nyron Nosworthy after Kitson played him through.

Other than that, it was a lot of huff-and-puff from a poor Pompey team and the task of getting anything from the game became much harder on the stroke of half-time when Marvin Sordell volleyed in Mark Yeates' corner, with nobody in a black shirt anywhere near him.

The second half was better only because Watford didn't score again. The only bright spot for the Pompey fans was when Abdul Razak was introduced late on and showed some of our more experienced players how to pass a ball properly.

Loach was only tested very late into the game as Erik Huseklepp's free kick had to be palmed away but the Hornets were barely troubled and Pompey fans left Vicarage Road cursing yet another dismal performance away from home.

So, whilst Pompey have a new man at the helm it seems like the hallmarks of Cotterill's management still linger on given the dreadful first half of this match followed by a slightly improved second half showing.

The defence had no cohesion whatsoever and to be opened up as many times as they were by what was a mediocre Watford team will send alarm bells ringing in the ears of Michael Appleton.

The midfield were arguably worse, as the likes of Mullins and Ward constantly gave the ball away and I'm struggling to see what value David Norris adds to the team. If it's to score goals from midfield then he is doing a very poor job of it as he wasn't at all threatening yesterday.

The forwards also take their share of the blame as Varney lacked any sort of drive whilst Kitson missed an easy header late on. Benjani did nothing but get caught offside constantly when he was introduced at half-time.

This performance has given our new manager plenty of food for thought and he has said so in what was a refreshingly honest post-match interview.

Normally, it would be considered dangerous to criticise your players publicly when you haven't been in the job for a fortnight but the level of that performance yesterday was unacceptable.

It seems like this season may well be about "home comforts" as Pompey raise their game at Fratton Park but can't repeat the feat away from home.

But with Leicester up next, it might be an uncomfortable start for 'Appy's new managerial career.

Pompey Player Ratings

Stephen Henderson: 5 - Lacked communication with his defence, there was one moment where he left his goal completely exposed.

Greg Halford: 5 - One of Pompey's better performers, which isn't saying much.

Jason Pearce: 5 - Some crucial blocks but lacked his usual organisational skills.

Ricardo Rocha: 4 - Struggled with Watford's long balls.

Tal Ben-Haim: 4 - Gave Watford's players far too much space.

Joel Ward: 4 - Given the runaround.

Hayden Mullins: 3 - Passing was woeful.

David Norris: 3 - May as well not have turned up.

Erik Huseklepp: 5 - There were some Norwegian's in the Pompey end who turned up just to watch him. They would have been disappointed.

Luke Varney: 4 - No drive and little conviction.

Dave Kitson: 5 - Ineffective.

Substitutes

Jamie Ashdown

Aaron Mokoena

Abdul Razak (Norris 72): N/A - Bright spark who set an example to his team-mates.

Kanu

Benjani (Ben-Haim 45): 4 - Constantly offside, offered very little.

Portsmouth Match Reports


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