Unbeaten Start Over

Last updated : 07 October 2018 By Jim Bonner

Portsmouth's unbeaten start to the League One season was ended by Gillingham at Fratton Park yesterday courtesy of a dire first half performance from Kenny Jackett's men.

The visitors were much the better side in the opening period as Pompey struggled to get going and any attack that threatened to materialise was abruptly ended by either a poor delivery into the box or losing the ball cheaply.

Gillingham had a couple of pot shots early in the half but their opening goal was one of the greatest ever goals to be scored by an opposition team at Fratton Park.

Tom Eaves received the ball in the box and used both feet to turn and volley the ball past Craig MacGillivray. The goal was applauded by some of the home supporters due to it's sheer quality but there will be question marks over the marking of such a huge player whilst Jack Whatmough needlessly kept the ball in play in the build up to the goal.

The best chance for the Blues came when Ben Close has a shot from distance which was tipped over the bar by Thomas Holy but a half to forget soon got worse just before the break as Alex Lacey lashed the ball home from a corner just before the break despite numerous Pompey players in the box. It truly was dreadful defending.

Jackett's response in the second half was to haul off the lacklustre Close and Gareth Evans and replace them with Ben Thompson and David Wheeler as Pompey looked to try and preserve their unbeaten run.

Whilst the home side dominated possession, they simply couldn't find their way past a Gills side who had battened down the hatches. Shots were blocked, good deliveries into the box had nobody to get on the end of them and that resulted in a couple of desperate late attempts that flew off target.

Holy's only real save of the half came when he stopped Jamal Lowe's curler from finding the back of the net on an afternoon where Pompey fans had to accept that the unbeaten start to the season was coming to a frustrating end.

There can be no doubt that Gillingham deserved their win as they took their goals well and defended like lions in the second half when they needed to, and they may have even nicked a third on the break too.

Pompey were made to pay for a terrible first half showing as both Evans and Close were totally ineffective as driving forces going forward whilst the front three were kept quiet and couldn't influence the game.

The whole team which has been known for its organisation conceded a woeful second goal and there will be an inquisition as to how such a poor corner managed to avoid so many blue shirts and reach an opposition player at the far post.

As cliché as it sounds, the second half could still be going now and Pompey still wouldn't have scored but not for the lack of trying. Pitman must have been frustrated that there was nobody to win his knockdowns and it's clear that the front three still have some work to do to become a truly cohesive unit.

Whilst it was disappointing to lose the unbeaten run, Pompey remain top of the league as Peterborough were thrashed 4-0 at home by Barnsley on a day of really strange results.

Doncaster were also beaten 4-0 at home by Fleetwood, Watford also got beaten by the same scoreline by Bournemouth at Vicarage Road whilst Preston also picked up their first win of the season in emphatic fashion, beating Wigan 4-0.

Even Plymouth managed to pinch a win over Wimbledon and if you want to look further afield, Deportivo Alaves beat Real Madrid 1-0 and Bayern Munich were hammered at home 3-0 by Borussia Monchengladbach.

All of those aforementioned results puts a 2-0 home defeat to Gillingham into a little bit of perspective but the fact remains that the Gills are the third consecutive team in poor form to come to Fratton and deservedly get a result. Kenny simply has to fix the problem of not being able to perform at home as those seven extra points would see Pompey well clear at the top of the table.

For now, the Blues take on another struggling side when they go to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday and that will be a true test of this team's character as everyone will know if this team is able to bounce back from yesterday's setback.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 7 - No chance with either goal and made a couple of good saves.

Nathan Thompson: 5 - Not his finest game as he was caught out too often.

Matt Clarke: 6 - Solid but underwhelming.

Jack Whatmough: 6 - Got some crucial blocks in.

Lee Brown: 5 - Delivery was dreadful at times.

Tom Naylor: 6 - Workmanlike.

Ben Close: 4 - Didn't get a grip in the game.

Gareth Evans: 4 - Kept losing the ball.

Jamal Lowe: 5 - Kept running into trouble.

Ronan Curtis: 5 - Was well shackled.

Brett Pitman: 6 - Anonymous first half but a threat after the break.


Luke McGee

Anton Walkes

Christian Burgess

Ben Thompson (Close 46): 7 - Added some bite and energy into the midfield.

David Wheeler (Evans 46): 6 - Had some bright moments.

Joe Mason

Oli Hawkins (N. Thompson 74): N/A - Gamble didn't pay off.