Pompey's Home Discomforts Continue

Pompey's winless run at Fratton Park was extended to six games yesterday following a second half capitulation against Gillingham yesterday.

It had all been going so well before the break as the home side's first half performance was one of the better showings of the season, although attacks were limited early on.

Kal Naismith hammered a long range shot at goal which sailed narrowly wide and Jamal Lowe headed over from close range before giving Pompey the lead.

Naismith did well to keep an attacking move going by stretching for the ball outside the box and passing it to Lowe, who beat two Gills defenders before lashing the ball into the roof of the net.

The striker should have doubled Pompey's lead when he raced onto a long ball and found himself one-on-one with the keeper but took too much time and allowed Luke O'Neill to make a crucial block.

Gillingham had offered nothing going forward in the first half as Pompey went into the break with what looked to be a comfortable lead. The fans who attended must still be wondering what happened during half-time for such a turnaround to happen.

It took just three minutes for the visitors to equalise as ex-Pompey loanee Conor Wilkinson latched onto a long ball and managed to beat Christian Burgess, Matt Clarke and the returning Jack Whatmough before firing the ball past Luke McGee.

Pompey's best chance of getting a goal back came when Connor Ronan's free kick hit the post, but it was all downhill after that as a hopeful ball into the box from Lee Martin somehow managed to sail into the corner, with Burgess visibly agitated that he wasn't able to intercept it.

Martin was then given too much space as he curled the ball into the top corner from outside the box and that was enough as far as the fans were concerned, with many making for the exits early and those who remained booing the team off for the second successive game.

The fingers of blame were pointed in many directions following yet another defeat at Fratton Park.

Burgess had a mare once again and takes the majority of the responsibility for the first two goals conceded. Again, you have to ask if there is something going on behind the scenes as his dip in form has been alarming.

Clarke also had a poor game although Whatmough looked fairly solid on his return. Questions will again be asked if Ben Close has what it takes to be a consistent performer at this level whilst the attacking players (and some of the others) looked tired as the second half wore on.

Drew Talbot's comments in the local news highlighted that the players aren't forced to do fitness training and that could explain why the players fade in the second half and also why the squad has suffered so many injuries. The blame there lies with the management.

Of course, it might well just be bad luck and whilst Kenny Jackett can't be singled out for the amount of injuries his squad has suffered, he is still responsible for getting the best out of his players and that simply didn't happen in the second half yesterday.

The football is becoming an absolute chore to watch with predictable long ball tactics snuffed out and Jackett doesn't seem to have an answer when his opposite makes a change to swing a game in the opposition's favour.

That's not to say that Jackett should be sacked as his past record speaks for itself and when he had a full squad available to him, Pompey were sitting in sixth place but the injuries came, key players wern't replaced and that's where those at the top have to accept their share of the blame.

It's easy to say in hindsight, but a replacement for Danny Rose should have been sought much sooner and maybe some money should have been released for the manager to broaden his horizons when it came to January recruitment.

Instead, Tornante may well find themselves losing out on future income if this woeful run of form continues. Fans aren't exactly going to be thrilled at the prospect of renewing their season tickets if their team can't win a home game and are playing dull football to go with it.

As much as the owners say "trust the process" they need to understand that their statement of seemingly being happy in League One for now has arguably given the team a mentality that they don't need to be giving 100% as promotion isn't expected of them.

Football fans are fickle and Pompey fans are no exception to that. Hanging around in League One when this club is below its natural level won't wash and fans will want to see an improvement next season as the current one is now virtually dead with ten games remaining.

Four of those are at Fratton Park but it's feasible that Pompey won't win any of them. Oxford are up next in front of the Sky cameras and we all know how notoriously bad the Blues are when shown in front of an international audience. The same applies for when Wigan come to town on Easter Monday.

The final two games are against play-off chasing Charlton and Peterborough and on current form there is no way Pompey will be beating either of those teams.

The end of this campaign which promised so much at the end of 2017 now can't come quick enough.

Pompey Player Ratings

Luke McGee: 5 - Let down by his defenders.

Anton Walkes: 6 - Looked good going forward in the first half.

Christian Burgess: 4 - Having a miserable time.

Matt Clarke: 5 - Not up to his usual standards.

Jack Whatmough: 6 - Good to see him back.

Sylvain Deslandes: 6 - Looked solid enough until fatigue set in.

Ben Close: 5 - People will be wondering what he brings to the team.

Dion Donohue: 6 - Worked hard.

Connor Ronan: 5 - Doesn't have enough influence on the game.

Jamal Lowe: 6 - Scored but should have buried the second chance and that would have changed the game completely.

Kal Naismith: 5 - Shone at times in the first half but totally anonymous in the second.

Substitutes

Alex Bass

Brandan Haunstrup (Deslandes 65): 6 - Good to see him return.

Theo Widdrington

Adam May

Dan Smith

Matty Kennedy

Conor Chaplin (Whatmough 76): N/A - Couldn't make an impact.