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Pompey Flattened By Battering Rams
Derby County 3 Portsmouth 1
It seems like Halloween came early for Pompey as their shocking and horrific defending saw them lose 3-1 at Pride Park yesterday.
Derby ran riot due to one of the worst defensive performances I have ever seen from a Pompey back four that made schoolboys look like seasoned professionals.
It took just six minutes for the home side to go in front as nobody in a blue shirt tracked the run of Craig Bryson, who took the ball past a couple of woefully tentative challenges by Tal Ben-Haim and slotted it past Henderson.
Jason Shackell scythed down Greg Halford as he ran down the right wing and eventually he had to be replaced by Joel Ward as he couldn't continue, but not before he hit the crossbar with a header from Liam Lawrence's cross.
It didn't take long after that for Nigel Clough's men to double their advantage as Pompey played their way into trouble which meant Henderson had to save a shot from the onrushing Theo Robinson.
Unfortunately, there was no Pompey player there to clear the second ball and so Chris Maguire was there to force the ball into the back of the net.
Jamie Ward effectively put the game to bed before half-time as a defense-splitting ball wasn't picked up by either Pearce or Ward and so the Derby striker was allowed to run into the box and slot the ball into the far corner of the goal.
It might have been worse had Henderson not produced two fine saves to deny Maguire near the end of what was a torrid first half for Pompey.
The second half was much of a muchness with Derby taking their foot off the pedal and letting Pompey attack them with no end result.
The only real positive to come from the game was when Abdul Razak was introduced to the Pompey fans. He may have only been on the pitch for half an hour but you could see he was head and shoulders above everyone else on the pitch.
He possesses a huge amount of skill as he showed when he made a couple of Derby players look silly as he took the ball round them as if they weren't even there before producing a cheeky backheel for a team mate.
On the flip side, there was a point in the game where he attempted to play the ball out of defence in the box when he was harassed by a Derby player who almost made him pay for his dilly-dallying.
There was something to cheer when Pearce got the last touch on a Lawrence cross with 11 minutes to go but any hopes of a late comeback were stifled by a frustrating Lawrence who wasted any good opportunity to put the ball into or around the box with Pompey players piling forward.
45 minutes in this match highlighted all of Pompey's deficiencies. There was no organisation at the back, the midfield lacked any pace and the forwards could only chase shadows.
Compare that to Derby, a young team without any standout individuals yet they all worked extremely hard for each other and closed Pompey down, whilst there was always a defender there to clear the ball off the line and make a last-ditch challenge when necessary.
Their midfield also moved around and passed the ball well against a static Pompey team, with the physical prescence of Robinson up front just too much for the Portsmouth defenders to handle.
It seems like Sean O'Driscoll is going to be the man who has to sort this all out. Sky Sports are reporting that he was at the at the game yesterday and has impressed when he was interviewed.
Eddie Howe looked to have ruled himself out of the job by pledging his future to Burnley in a post-match interview on the BBC's Football League Show.
Whoever the new man is has a difficult task on hand, especially as Pompey may be even further down the table after a very difficult trip to Selhurst Park on Tuesday.
Pompey Player Ratings
Stephen Henderson: 7 - May have conceded three goals but can't be blamed for any of them and kept the score down with some good saves.
Greg Halford: N/A - Off early with injury.
Jason Pearce: 5 - Shoddy defensively, better on the attack.
Ricardo Rocha: 3 - Lethargic showing, not to be expected by someone who is usually reliable.
Tal Ben-Haim: 4 - Derby ran rings around him.
Liam Lawrence: 4 - Dead balls were good but otherwise extremely frustrating.
Hayden Mullins: 4 - Lost the ball far too often.
David Norris: 3 - Anonymous.
Erik Huseklepp: 5 - Tried in vain to make something happen.
Luke Varney: 6 - Got in behind the Derby defence a few times but there was little support for him.
Dave Kitson: 4 - No impact whatsoever.
Joel Ward (Halford 16): 4 - Looks a shadow of the player he was last season.
Abdul Razak (Norris 62): 6 - Bright spark in a dismal team performance.
Marko Futacs (Huseklepp 62): 5 - Lumbering.
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