Same Old Story as Shrews Stall Stagnant Blues

By Mark Docherty

There is nothing better than entering a new football season and seeing your side begin with attacking intent.

This was exactly what Bristol Rovers fans got after they took the lead against Sunderland from the penalty spot.

Thanks to an iFollow malfunction, Pompey fans were forced to watch the opening twelve minutes at the Stadium of Light, rather than the Blues’ opener with Shrewsbury. Sadly, it was the only goal they would see all afternoon.

The goalless draw came as little surprise to many apathetic Blues fans, as the game played out in an all-too-familiar pattern.

After an erratic start, Pompey grew into the game without ever posing much of a threat.

By the end of the second half, the Blues were dominating possession but struggled to break down the ten men of the opposition.

Tom Naylor’s header clipped the bar and Lee Brown saw an audacious free kick tipped behind, while Craig MacGillivray made a reflex save to keep out the Shrews, who had previously struck the post.

Yet neither side deserved more than a point. It was a typical Kenny Jackett performance, who focused on building solid defensive foundations while relying on individual brilliance in attack.

Pompey fans were relieved not to see a Paul Downing and Sean Raggett centre-back partnership. Jack Whatmough was a commanding figure at the back, guiding a shaky Callum Johnson through his league debut. At last, the Blues looked like a solid defensive outfit.

Despite these positives, the team’s lack of creativity is just as prevalent as it was at the back-end of last season.

Pompey’s success under Jackett came when an in-form Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis consistently managed to grab decisive goals while their teammates did little more than keep out the opposition.

Curtis, John Marquis and Marcus Harness were unable to find the necessary creative spark on this occasion.

Two seasons ago, 14 victories came by one-goal margins, because the attack was consistently able to make something out of nothing.

Yet Pompey’s toothless nature towards the end of that season, and much of last term, coincided with Curtis and Lowe being burned out, before the latter left for the Championship.

This season’s curtain-raiser suggests that not a lot has changed.

When the game plan relies on both a water-tight defence and the attack feeding off scraps, there is little room for manoeuvre.

All it takes is for the strikers not to take their chances – or a few defensive lapses –  for Pompey to drop points.

Unfortunately, the Blues’ attacking trio got little service and failed to create much with what they got. It is a system which has earned Jackett success in the past, but if there are too many results like this, promotion will be an afterthought.

2 thoughts on “Same Old Story as Shrews Stall Stagnant Blues

  1. Game changing options off the bench are poor, understandably as Jackett is still in situ and responsible for making them. Why isn’t Hackett-Fairchild on the subs bench to potentially offer something different?
    KJ is so conservative and does not learn from his mistakes, as the play off performances once again proved. The squad quality is diminishing and unlikely to improve with the implementation of the new salary cap.
    This is the most demoralised I’ve been going into a new season in a long time, and there have been some nadirs!


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