ironically, Pompey's best period was the five or ten minutes after Curtis was brought on when he brought energy, imagination and drive to the left side of the field and then Pompey had an outlet and a talisman who was driving the team forward into dangerous places and suddenly the crowd came alive and the game seem there for the taking .....only for Wimbledon to win their game through their plan A. Cross the ball into the box from wide positions and look to hit no.39 who was proving a handful in the air.
Just a world on Wimbledon. organised, strong in defence but nothing to write home about. Their CF was fouling nearly all night and the ref let him get away with it. Whenever he was jumping to head the ball he was using a straightened arm to create space and to push defenders away (stiff arming) and was not using naturally for balance. Dirty player but canny in deploying the tactics subtlety. Burgess complained to the ref about it once in the first half and he took notice for about 5mins and then reverted to deploying a blind eye. Wimbledon's tactics was to get the ball crossed in for him to compete for it in the box and a long cross evaded everyone to give him a headed goal for the equaliser from about 6 yards. McGee did not come for the ball and had no chance from that range with a downward header. Equally Wimbledon had all day to cross in from the right for the winner and again a deep high cross was watched all the way by McGee before it hit Walkes (on his thigh or upper knee) and cannoned into the net. I had to think that it was a night for a keeper who would come and help his defenders getting mugged by their CF and catch a few crosses wherever possible.
Clarke was superb on the night and was head and shoulders the best player on the pitch. The back four had a decent game as a unit but Walkes and Haunstrupp offer very little going forward. Naylor aids, well, nails in midfield and he is a strong disruptive force shielding the back four. The central midfield two of Evans and Close were poor I thought. offered industry but nothing in terms of creativity, Close in particular seemed hesitant and seemed to favour the simple sideways pass rather than having the confidence or desire to show vision and imagination with the ball. Timid.
Lowe offered some attacking intent from the left wide in the first half and the right wing in the second half when he switched with Wheeler. Ah Wheeler. Maybe he gets a pass because he only joined the team a week or so ago but he was very disappointing. He missed an open header towards the end of the first half from a cross that should have been a goal but he missed the target but aside from that I saw nothing from him. no pace, guile, drive, creativity, shooting. He looked like the game was taking place several post codes over from his location. He was equally ineffective on both wings and his performance was only made worse by the stark contrast made by Curtis when he came on.
Pittman looked interested but did not threaten. I didn't see him have an attempt on goal and he does not look capable of creating a chance on his own. When he was substituted and had left the field he was handed a training top and he threw it away in anger behind him ......and towards it seemed Kenny Jackett. I think there is something brewing behind the scenes and it would not surprise me if he left before the month is out.
Chaplin looked dull when he came on. Not on form and not much interested perhaps. Hawkins was trying to lead the line and win headers from the wrong side of the centre half. Strange, very strange and not surprisingly it didn't work.
Poor fare to be honest, it can get better but Pompey need someone in central midfield alongside Naylor who is willing to play a pass and see a run and the supporting players need to be making runs and showing for the ball. Curtis and Lowe look like they have something but the strikers are blunt and pace less. There was nothing threatening or exciting or pacey on show from Pompey in the final third tonight. Solid but unspectacular. Early days though - hopefully!