Pompey secured another important three points earlier today when they defeated Leyton Orient at Fratton Park. The final score of 2-1 could easily have been more but, in the end, the win is all that matters. The win puts the Blues just two points off the automatic promotion places and gives them some breathing space above Wycombe in 5th place, so Paul Cook will be delighted with the good result.
- Cook not afraid to experiment
Despite almost always lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation during his time at Pompey, Paul Cook chose to start with a 4-4-2 system for today’s game. Fans regularly clamour for Cook to play two strikers, and those supporters were finally gratified when Conor Chaplin came into the team for Kyle Bennett. Not only that, but Pompey changed to a 3-4-3 system once Gareth Evans was forced off with injury at half-time. New boy, Jamal Lowe came on to replace the right-back, which saw Enda Stevens move to centre-back and Carl Baker and Kal Naismith deployed as wing-backs. The change seemed to pay off as Pompey dominated and won the match.
- Lack of ruthlessness could prove costly
The match stats from today’s game would suggest that more than one goal would separate the two sides, but Pompey’s lack of ruthlessness in front of goal meant that only two goals came from the Blues’ 18 shots. Conor Chaplin is a proven scorer, but the number of missed chances from the other attacking players such as Michael Smith, Carl Baker, and Kal Naismith was somewhat worrying. If Pompey can improve on their chances to goals ratio then they can certainly sneak into the top three in the coming weeks. However, when the Blues are playing as well as they did today they need to convert chances into goals or they will find themselves on the end of ‘smash and grab’ results.
- Misses aren’t being penalised
To my knowledge, Pompey have now missed all of their last three penalties and have missed four over the course of the season. Although the last three have all been missed, they have been missed by three different penalty takers. Kal Naismith, Gary Roberts, and Conor Chaplin have all now missed from the spot and, even more worryingly, only one of the three has hit his shot on target. However, remarkably, Pompey’s missed penalties haven’t cost them a single point this season. They have gone on to win against Barnet, Newport County, Luton, and now Leyton Orient despite missing penalties which is very fortunate and cannot go on forever. Therefore it is important that Pompey take their opportunities from the spot in future.
- Cook doesn’t pick favourites
One of the criticisms which is often leveled at the Pompey boss is that he is unwilling to drop his so-called favourites. He is accused of favouring the likes of Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett and refusing to drop them for the good of the team. Few would argue that they are poor players and most would want them in the team for most matches but it can sometimes be frustrating that Cook is so reluctant to drop his star men. However, neither Bennett nor Roberts started against Leyton Orient and, although Bennett came on for the last ten minutes, many fans will be relieved to see that the manager didn’t feel obliged to field his ‘favourites,’
- Lowe can play at a high level
Jamal Lowe made his long-awaited debut for the Blues today when he came off the bench at half-time in place of Gareth Evans. It signalled his first game back in the Football League since being let go by Barnet, and it is fair to say that he put in an encouraging performance. There were some concerns over whether he would be able to adapt to professional football after a great first half of the season at Hampton & Richmond Borough, but he gave a good first impression in front of his new fans.