Pompey Bottle It

Apologies for the severe lack of updates recently. I've not been able to find the time to write much recently due to personal reasons, but yesterday's result is one that couldn't not be addressed.

Therefore, this is a slightly more personal blog post rather than the usual type of report. Yesterday's match at Roots Hall will be one that no Pompey fan is ever going to forget for all of the wrong reasons.

It all started so well, didn't it?

Southend's defence were all at sea with Omar Bogle and Jamal Lowe terrorising the back four and their shaky goalkeeper Nathan Bishop. When Bryn Morris collected the ball from the latter's spill and lashed it into the roof of the net there were signs that Pompey could score more.

That turned out to be the case the Shrimpers couldn't clear their lines and the impressive Ben Close scored on the volley. More woeful defending followed and Oli Hawkins was on hand to score and put Kenny Jackett's men in complete control of the game.

However, the visitors seemed to forget how to play once the third was scored and Southend got a cheap goal back when Sam Hart crossed for Simon Cox who beat Matt Clarke to the header as the ball sailed beyond Craig MacGillivray.

At half-time, I turned around to my Southend supporting friend who had been traumatised by the first half hour and advised him that 13/1 was great value for a draw and I wasn't even joking because despite Pompey's dominance, Chris Powell's men had plenty of chances themselves in the first half and Michael Turner curled his shot just wide before the half-time whistle blew.

My fears of a second half collapse were justified as Pompey simply didn't turn up and were dominated in midfield after a bright start which saw both Bogle and Lowe squander opportunities which surely would have finished the game.

Instead, Southend grew in confidence and when Jackett brought on Ronan Curtis and Gareth Evans for Bogle and Viv Solomon-Otabor to revert back to the 4-2-3-1 formation, it simply shifted the momentum even further in Southend's favour.

Despite that, there was a feeling that Pompey would hold on unless they gifted their opponents a goal. Morris decided to do that with 12 minutes to go by needlessly lunging late on Michael Kightly and conceding a penalty which Cox scored emphatically.

Let's be honest. I knew what was coming next, you knew what was coming next and everyone else knew what was coming next.

87 minutes on the clock and Southend's midfield waltzed through Pompey's as if it wasn't there and slipped in Cox who predictably completed his hat-trick.

The emotions I felt after the game were 50% anger, 40% shock and 10% relief that Southend didn't go and score a fourth goal. How the hell has that been allowed to happen!?

People can clutch at straws about how Bogle's goal was dubiously ruled out for offside (although Anton Walkes looked offside when receiving the ball before crossing it for Bogle anyway) or how the throw in that led to Southend's first should have been given to Pompey instead.

Other may moan that Southend got "lucky" that an enforced substitution meant their midfield got hold of the ball  and were no longer dominated or that there was a supposed handball in the box right at the death.

But the fact of the matter is that Pompey three-fucking-nil up and yet somehow managed to squander it. Roots Hall is well and truly cursed but how did it all go so terribly wrong?

Firstly, Tom Naylor was a huge miss in the middle of the park. Without him, the midfield offered the defence about as much protection as a shredded condom. It makes the decision to let Danny Rose leave for Swindon even more baffling.

Matt Clarke also picked the wrong match to have arguably his worst performance in a Pompey shirt. He was easily beaten for the opening goal and lacked the composure and quality we're used to seeing from him on a weekly basis.

There's no leadership in the side, either. Nobody in the team seems to have the stomach for a fight and were crying out for somebody of the late Mick Kennedy's character to ensure they were going to see the job through.

However, most of the blame solely lies at Kenny Jackett's feet. He seemingly can't motivate his players to keep hold of leads no matter how great they are and his tactical switches yesterday were dreadful.

If Curtis has been suffering with the flu, why put him on the pitch at all? If Bogle's tired, why not bring James Vaughan on sooner so he can work with Hawkins and stretch their defence when they're pushing for an equaliser?

For him to come out and say "That's football." after his team have surrendered a three goal lead is unacceptable and he needs to take responsibility for the defeat and how this season is falling apart with him at the helm. This is also whilst playing some awful football in the process and the fans are turning against him in numbers now.

Despite how horrendous yesterday was and the fact that Luton and Barnsley won again, there is still time to redeem this situation with 14 games still to play.

If (and it's a huge if) Pompey can recover from this and win their next two games at home to a woeful Bristol Rovers side and the big one against Barnsley then at worst they'll be two points behind the automatic promotion places and it's game on.

But could you back this current crop of players to deliver after the worst surrender of a three goal lead since the infamous costly collapse at Oxford back in 1993?

Roots Hall 2019 could be another infamous result that a new generation of fans will claim cost Pompey promotion when the recovery finally looked like it was happening.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 5 - No chance with the goals but still spilled a shot which could have led to one on the first half.

Anton Walkes: 6 - Worked well with the attack going forward.

Matt Clarke: 4 - Worst performance in a Pompey shirt.

Christian Burgess: 6 - Let down by those around him.

Lee Brown: 5 - Lacklustre.

Jamal Lowe: 6 - Bright first half but awful first touch in the second to surely put the game to bed. Faded afterwards.

Ben Close: 7 - The only positive to take from an awful afternoon.

Bryn Morris: 5 - Undid all of his good work in the first half with woeful second half showing.

Viv Solomon-Otabor: 6 - Like Lowe, bright early on but soon faded.

Omar Bogle: 7 - A real handful and should really have had at least one goal.

Oli Hawkins: 6 - Poached his goal well but offered little else.

Substitutes

Alex Bass

Matt Casey

Brandan Haunstrup

Adam May

Gareth Evans (Bogle 75): N/A - Brought on to settle the midfield. Didn't.

Ronan Curtis (Solomon-Otabor 71): N/A - Ineffective.

James Vaughan (Lowe 88): N/A - Last throw of the dice. Failed.