Portsmouth v Colchester – The moral of the story

Written by Mark Docherty

As with any walk of life, the end of a football match is a chance for the participating teams to look back at their performances and try to draw positives where they can be found, and learn from mistakes made over the 90 minutes. When talking about League Two football, there is never a shortage of mistakes to learn from so there is plenty to digest every weekend!


Robbo on the spot
Gary Roberts marked his return to form with a brace, one of which was a penalty, maintaining his 100% record for Pompey.  Amid some calls for Roberts to be dropped, he put in a match-winning performance to silence his critics.  This has put paid to the claim from some that his legs have gone and that he is no longer capable of lasting the full 90 minutes.

Forde can handle the pressure
David Forde banished the theory that, at 36 years of age, he is too old to play in the Football League.  Forde kept the game comfortable for Pompey with three impressive saves, including one double save which proved his reflexes are still as sharp as ever.  Although he was merely a spectator for much of the game, he showed good concentration to stay alert and make some important saves.

Using a Main striker is not the only way to Hunt for goals
After about an hour of 4-2-3-1,  Paul Cook gave in to the clamour from the fans and changed to a 4-4-2 diamond system.  It is good to see that Cook is willing to use a plan B tactic when 4-2-3-1 isn’t working.  The introduction of Noel Hunt and Conor Chaplin undoubtedly changed the game, and I am encouraged by the way Cook is prepared to set aside his favoured system for the good of the team, even though he has reservations about using two strikers.


credit Ben Hardinge


Talbot needs to be on the right track
Although Pompey were rarely troubled by Colchester, on a couple of occasions Drew Talbot found himself being caught out of position.  It may simply be that Pompey fans are used to the ever-reliable Ben Davies in that position, but Talbot seemed to be a bit of a liability at times, forcing Michael Doyle to vacate his position to help out at right back on a couple of occasions.  Hopefully he just needs a bedding-in period.

Misses could hit Pompey hard
As has been seen in the first three matches of Pompey’s league campaign, the cliché: “you’ve got to take your chances” proves true more often than not.  Again yesterday, a few chances went begging, most notably when Curtis Main and Danny Rose were denied by a superb first half double save by Sam Walker, before Main fired over.  On this occasion the Blues went on to win despite the wasted chances, but Pompey have to start being more clinical or they will pay with points.

Blues yet to turn the corner
One of my pet hates – one that I share with many other fans – is short corners.  Paul Cook has tried to instill a philosophy of getting the ball down and passing it around from set pieces rather than the customary League Two punt into the area.  While it is commendable to try and “play the right way”, that has to come secondary to scoring goals and, especially with the taller players such as Baker, Burgess, and Barton in the box, there is probably a higher likelihood of scoring by just getting the ball in the area.

The verdict

All in all, it was a really positive performance from Pompey, and hopefully they have now put their poor start behind them for good.  However, there are a couple of points for Cook to mull over this week, including Pompey take their chances and preventing the team from becoming exposed down their right wing.  However, there were many encouraging signs, and if Pompey can right the wrongs of their performance, they could push on and achieve a high finish this year.

Pompey fans, do you agree? What are your thoughts on the season so far? Let us know in the comments below!

featured image by James Evans