Following the euphoria of winning our first home game in front of our new owners and manager last Saturday, today we were served up a harsh dose of reality!
The game was a scrappy affair to start, with neither team really taking control. However, as the half continued I’d say Pompey were the better team, looking the more likely in the final third.
In fact, Kyle Bennett could easily have put us 1-0 up after about 20 minutes following one of his trademark mazey runs and a shot that the keeper did well to put beyond the upright with a great save.
The Pompey pressure continued and I believe we’d forced 2 or 3 corners before they even got one. The defining moment of the first half came when following some great play down the left we crossed the ball to Pitman who headed home.
A great goal that was about to be disallowed as Pitman was alleged to have illegally pushed his opposite number as he went up for the header. I’ve seen more given than not.
Our players left the field at half time to a rousing applause, and most of us blue tinted spectacled wearing supporters thought we would only push on.
Unfortunately, within a couple of minutes of the second half kick-off Oxford did to us what we did to Rochdale last Saturday, and scored.
Even though I was at the other end of the ground it was obvious that our keeper had spilled a fierce shot that Wes Thomas was there to fire home (what is it about ex-Pompey players?!).
Jackett almost immediately, and very un-Cook like, made a change, bringing on Chaplin for Naismith. Whilst the ‘One of our own’ chants were still ringing in my ears I was wondering why he’d made this move.
For me, Naismith looked our most creative source and, added to that, my lads and I had already talked about this game not being suited to Chaplin. Once we’d made this change, we never looked like getting back into the game, and certainly showed no attacking intent.
I actually commented to my sons that this would end up 2 or 3 nil, which as we all now know, it did. And let’s be straight about this, Oxford more than deserved to win. If it hadn’t been for our best player by a country mile, Christian Burgess, it could have been 5 or 6.
Anyway, today really highlighted how lacking in depth our squad is, especially in midfield where we were overrun today. If ever there was a game where we could have done with Michael Doyle, or even someone like one of our released midfielders, Stanley Aborah, today was it.
We’ve been taught a bit of a lesson today that hopefully Kenny Jackett and his players can and will learn from, and whilst there’s a very long way to go, based on today’s performance we will not be challenging for promotion!
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[Photo: Official PFC]