Pathetic Pompey Swept Away By Pilgrims

Another away game brought another terrible performance from Portsmouth as they were easily beaten at Home Park by Plymouth yesterday.

Argyle made a mockery of Andy Awford's men with the game over as a contest on the half-hour mark which now leaves serious questions about the manager's future and Pompey's prospects for the rest of the season.

Prior to the match, many fans had bemoaned Awford's decision to play a 4-1-4-1 formation with Nick Awford being handed his first start in the league and Miles Storey playing up front on his own. The supporters questioned whether the former was ready for such a tough game and if the latter should have been replaced by Ryan Taylor, the only man in the squad capable of playing that role.

However, as poor as the team selection was, bad defending both individually and as a unit cannot be vouched for and that is exactly what Pompey were guilty of right from the start.

There was only six minutes on the clock when Lewis Allesandra fell under Nicky Shorey's challenge in the box. It may have been a soft decision but a man of Shorey's experience had no need to stick his leg out and give the Plymouth striker the chance to be fouled.

Reuben Reid made no mistake from the spot to give the home side the lead but Pompey did muster a response with Ricky Holmes sending a dangerous ball into the box and then testing Luke McCormick in the Plymouth goal.

That was as good as it got, however, as some criminal defending gifted Plymouth a second goal. Kelvin Mellor was allowed to get to the byline and square the ball for an unmarked Allesandra to calmly finish the move with the Pompey defence all at sea.

The third goal was almost a carbon copy of the second, only this time it was Reid who converted Mellor's cross after he had beaten Shorey for the umpteenth time.

Pompey gifted Plymouth more chances as the half wore on as some amateur defending could have seen them go into the break with an even more embarrassing deficit.

Fans were angry to see that Awford hadn't made any changes for the second half but there was an improvement in the performance with Argyle playing in first gear and still not being troubled.

The visitors were probably thankful that it was only a 3-0 defeat in the end given that Lee Cox and Deane Smalley hit the woodwork before the referee finally put Pompey out of their misery.

The defeat sees more Portsmouth supporters calling for Awford's head and he doesn't do himself any favours with silly post-match comments where he claims that Pompey matched Plymouth in midfield and that Argyle took their opportunities when they presented themselves, although had they taken all their opportunities they were gifted then we'd be looking at a much heavier defeat.

And Pompey's midfield certainly did not match Plymouth's, either. They offered an already brittle back line no protection and, Holmes aside, created nothing.

As for the defenders, I'll be happy if Nicky Shorey and Ben Chorley never played for this club again. The former is on a retirement package and can't even go through the motions now whilst the latter got ripped apart yesterday is not fit for league football.

Tactically this team are poor and that lies with a manager who still doesn't know his best formation or his best eleven and now he has the "Harry Redknapp hoodoo" on his back where his team perform terribly away from Fratton Park.

Does that mean he should be sacked? No, because he has plenty of time to turn this around and proved he is capable after sorting out the shambles Richie Barker left for him last season.

However, a defeat at Aldershot may well change the opinion of those fans currently on his side. The Plymouth performance was totally unacceptable but being knocked out of the FA Cup by a non-league club would be a disaster and those trigger fingers will itch just a little bit more.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 6 - Let down by the players in font of him.

Alex Wynter: 5 - Never looked comfortable.

Joe Devera: 5 - The best of a very bad bunch.

Ben Chorley: 3 - An embarrassment.

Nicky Shorey: 2 - Should simply retire after that shocking showing.

Jack Whatmough: 5 - Good to see him back, but out of sorts.

Ricky Holmes: 6 - At least tried to create something.

Danny Hollands: 4 - Didn't do his defensive duties at all.

Nick Awford: 4 - Doesn't look good enough for league level yet.

Jed Wallace: 4 - Touch was appaling and was never in the game.

Miles Storey: 4 - Anonymous.


Michael Poke

Dan Butler (Shorey 60): 6 - Must be brought into the first team permanently now.

Ben Close

Nigel Atangana (Whatmough 72): N/A - Wasn't expected to influence things so late on.

Bradley Tarbuck

Craig Westcarr

Ryan Taylor (Awford 60): 5 - Wasn't involved.

On a final note which put yesterday's match into perspective, it was shocking and saddening to see that former Pompey midfielder Valery Mezague, who spent the 2004/2005 on loan from Montpelier, has died at the age of 30.

His latest club, Sporting Toulon Var of the French fifth tier confirmed his death yesterday although the cause is still unknown. Mezague joined former manager Alain Perrin at Sochaux when he left Pompey and also played for Bury last year too. Condolences to his family.