DAN BRETT: Pompey need to be bold to survive
By Dan Brett
Monday 10 Mar 2014 08:08:00
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If Pompey are to improve in League Two, the side will need to find more lions and less church mice among the starters.


Saturday's 0-0 draw with Cheltenham highlighted an abundance of quality through Wes Fogden, Ricky Holmes and Toumani 'Dave' Diagouraga.

However, it also became clear that the squad are littered with players that buckle under the pressure of playing at Fratton Park, as big-crowd expectancy takes its toll.

The Blues' defence looked a more reassured, confident and able set-up since arrivals of Ben Chorley and Nicky Shorey, with Bondz N'Gala's return to action adding to Pompey's back line presence.

And Wes Fogden's energy through midfield has proved the perfect complement to Ricky Holmes' forward-thinking play, with the ex-Bournemouth man adding necessary steel into the heart of midfield.

But it's the mentality of Pompey's stars that seem to be curtailing their chances to see out victories at home - with many of the current crop seeming to struggle in front of larger crowds.

Diagouraga's instant impact into the side has shown that picking players from a higher level can boost your side; with a man who is used to big crowds after last year's title run with Brentford.

So, too, with former Cherries man Fogden, who knows the effort that Pompey fans come to expect with their stars, and will give everything for the cause, as proven against Cheltenham.

Far too many high, lingering balls and misplaced passes on show in the scoreless draw, with a match that saw Michael Drennan largely isolated, despite being pitted alongside Jake Jervis.

Perhaps Patrick Agyemang's presence would have been best suited, with Pompey seeming to lack a target man, as Jervis and Drennan struggled to bring their attacking team-mates into the fold.

Stark contrast to the midweek draw with Chesterfield, the side struggled to grow into the slick, passing style of attacking football that fans saw at the Proact Stadium.

Siting 19th-placed in League Two and seven points above the drop zone, there's still plenty for Richie Barker's side to do to secure fourth division football next term, with many of Blues' divisional rivals holding a game in hand.

Pompey will have to raise their game as title-chasing Burton Albion travel to Fratton Park on Tuesday night, with the visitors unlikely to show the hosts any respect as they sit just two points outside of the automatic promotion places.

If Pompey can muster the type of effort and endeavour as seen against the Spireites, they may have a chance of snatching a much-needed, confidence-boosting win.

But with more church mice than men in the starting XI, Pompey need to stand up and be counted if the club are to survive and, more importantly for these stars, they wish to remain in the first-team set-up next season.

For visiting sides, it seems to be less of a 'Fortress Fratton' and more of a 'feel free to come and express yourselves Fratton'.

That needs to change. And only those on the pitch can do it.

Dan Brett is a freelance News and Sport journalist. You can follow him @DanBrett90


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