Poor Pompey Felled By Unfortunate Own Goal
Portsmouth 0 Fleetwood Town 1
A Sonny Bradley own goal saw Portsmouth slip to their third home defeat in four games at Fratton Park after their worst performance of the season against Fleetwood Town.
It was a poor game that the visitors edged as Pompey continue to learn the harsh lessons of League Two football after the more physical side triumphed. Guy Whittingham was also in for more criticism for his questionable team selection and tactical decisions.
The match, despite both teams wanting to attack, was a dire spectacle with the midfield battle getting very scrappy and neither goalkeeper having too much to do. Johnny Ertl's injury after a blow to the head summed up the first half, although John Sullivan was forced to make a couple of saves and an unmarked Junior Brown missed a great chance when he volleyed the ball over the bar and into the Fratton End.
Pompey started the second half brightly but the Cod Army soon took control and Sullivan did well to tip Antoni Sarcevic's long range shot over the bar. Pompey's only decent attempt of the half (and the match) came following a quick short corner which saw David Connolly's goalbound effort blocked.
That was as good as it got for the Blues as Fleetwood took the lead on 67 minutes in fortunate circumstances.
Jamille Matt beat Sonny Bradley to the ball and although Sullivan came rushing out to block the shot, the ball ricocheted off Bradley and into the net despite his best attempt to clear the ball off the line. Some Pompey players were claiming a foul on Bradley whilst some fans believe that Matt was offside but the goal stood.
The most disappointing thing is that there was hardly any response to that goal but that was partly down to Fleetwood knowing how to close the game down and not give Pompey any room to pass the ball around, meaning the home side ended up having to hoof the ball aimlessly upfield, much to the Fratton faithful's frustration.
The final whistle blew to end a poor game that Pompey deserved nothing from. To not work the opposition goalkeeper in 90 minutes at home is completely unacceptable and only a couple of players could have walked off the pitch yesterday knowing they'd done their best.
As for the management, one of the golden rules of football is "don't change a winning team" but Whittingham not only dropped one of Pompey's best performers in the last couple of games to bring Connolly back in, he also changed the formation back to a 4-4-2 which played straight into Fleetwood's hands as they flooded the midfield and pressed Pompey at every opportunity.
In hindsight, Connolly shouldn't have been able to walk straight back into the team and he was disappointing yesterday whereas Jed Wallace has had a hand in most of Pompey's recent goals and didn't deserve to be dropped. What will that do for the young lad's confidence?
There could also be sympathy for Danny East too who was dropped for Marcos Painter and wasn't selected play at his favoured position of right back. Instead, Shaun Cooper played there and his Fratton return wasn't one to remember.
Also, what is the point in signing John Marquis if you're not going to bring him on? It would have been the perfect opportunity for the young lad looking to impress to have an impact on a poor game of football.
There are some serious questions to answer for Whittingham and co. because if they can't get a grip on aspects of League Two football and learn from their mistakes quickly then this season will be a write off and that just simply isn't good enough after all everyone has had to fight for to keep Portsmouth FC alive.
Pompey Player Ratings
John Sullivan: 7 - Saved everything and was unlucky to concede.
Shaun Cooper: 5 - Poor under pressure.
Sonny Bradley: 5 - Unfortunate own goal but Matt had the better of him.
Bondz N'Gala: 6 - Solid enough.
Marcos Painter: 6 - Did a job.
Ricky Holmes: 6 - Pompey's biggest threat, which isn't saying much in truth.
Simon Ferry: 8 - Held everything together in midfield and won most challenges.
Johnny Ertl: 5 - Well off the pace.
Andy Barcham: 5 - Wasn't in the game.
Patrick Agyemang: 6 - Not his usual influential self.
David Connolly: 5 - Poor return to the side.
Romain Padovani (Ertl 72): N/A - Should be given his chance ahead of the captain now.
Jed Wallace (Barcham 75): N/A - Shouldn't have been dropped.
Tom Craddock (Agyemang 79): N/A - Never looked like scoring.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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