Another three points picked up on the road, courtesy of a Jerry Yates goal in the final 10 minutes. The Seasiders will have one eye on the play-offs now with one, two or in some cases three games in hand to play in comparison to those teams that are currently above us.
The very very good
1. Jerry Bloody Yates
He’s scored some fantastic solo goals for us this season and this was one of his best after a direct mazy run in the box. A finish from a tight angle worthy of two thumbs up from me and an ecstatic shout as the tangerines went ahead. Scroll down for the fantastic finish!
I highlighted in my chat with the PO4cast that the first goal mattered and that proved to be the case here.
2. Versatility in Positions
We are finally seeing the careful planning by Neil Critchley and his backroom team come off in line with the squad and salary cap. We have a seriously strong defensive unit and that is shown by our ninth clean sheet so far this season. What’s even more impressive is the number of changes to the back four and the consistency we have managed to develop, showcasing how every player knows their role in our defensive structure. I also thought Demi Mitchell did very well in his supporting position when he came on and having that versatility allows us to change things up if things aren’t quite working.
3. Jimmy Husband’s Goal Line Clearance
Let’s give him the plaudits he deserves because his past two games have been outstanding. No longer is he the senseless, rash hothead that put his team at risk earlier in the season. He has learnt from the hard lessons and has been nothing short of outstanding in the recent games. Cool, calm and no-nonsense defending from Husband have contributed to the clean sheets we have kept. In my opinion, he single handedly won us the game from his careful positioning and even though the ball was hit directly at him and cannoned of his chest, it still ensured that Pompey didn’t get that first vital goal.
4. Game Management
Relaxed and in control as it was for the full 90 minutes. No sign of us losing our heads in the final few minutes like earlier in the season, we have grown. The defence had a fantastic game, kept the forward players of Portsmouth quiet all game and enabled us to nick a smash-and-grab win. Not many teams will take six points from Pompey, four from Hull and three already from Peterborough so we definitely have the quality. It’s encouraging that we are now doing it away from home too. We looked assured and I was never in doubt that we would get the three points after the late goal from Jez. We are riding that confidence now, and long may it continue into Tuesdays tough game against Donny.
5. Substitutions at the right time
Another one worthy of some plaudits is the main man Neil Critchley. He has had a lot of stick for the number of substitutions he has made and the timings of these in some games. So when he sees a young Ellis Simms pick up a yellow and substituted him at half time, and for it to pay off today, is smart. Against Rochdale he made subs that made an impact and it worked again today with Demi offering his pace as another outlet for attack. Well done Critch, keep the lads going and let’s continue this run.
Five that are not necessarily awful but still room for improvement
1. Ellis Simms’ learning curve
The young mancunian did superbly against Wigan but since then has struggled a little. He almost bagged himself a goal with a fantastic strike which was well saved and had me questioning how it didn’t go in, with Yates following up on the blocked rebound. For me, he is still learning and as he plays will be picking up the streetwise tactics he lacked, which saw him get booked for a nothing foul. Had he not been booked and not made a rash challenge moments later I think he would’ve played another half, but Critchley made the wise call to switch it up.
2. Isolated attacking threat
We’re learning to win ugly which is fantastic and three points is all I want so I won’t complain too much. However, we are missing Madine and that game was crying out for him. He adds a different dimension and bullies defenders. Luckily, we had Jackpot Jerry to come up with a solo bit of brilliance once again to smash it into the corner. Once we have Yorke and Cole together, with CJ returning too, I think we will have plenty to offer in the attacking department.
3. Linking up in the middle
It was better today, Dougall and Stewart were much further apart and they played well, passing into one another on many occasions. It does leave me questioning if we are too defensive minded here though? Perhaps with Keshi in the mix again it would be the perfect balance of attack/defence in the middle of the park. Currently, it just looks like we are slightly heavier on the defensive side. As long as we continue to battle like we did today and impose ourselves on the game then I’ll be more than happy.
4. iFollow or do I?
At times today we were reminded of how much we miss being inside a stadium. Usually, we miss a goal or chance due to us getting another pint in with our mates! In this case, it was some of the bizarre camera angles and repeated footage that prevented us from seeing some of the action happening in real time. Cheers EFL for you continued great service or lack of!
5. Officials’ inconsistency
The officiating was pretty dire today. So many yellows being branded for little reasons for Blackpool and fouls similar were let off for Portsmouth. There genuinely was too much talking to players after some had already been booked, but this worked for us too, as I think Simms was very fortunate to be on the field after his second challenge.
One positive that’s worth noting is how well the ref did to play advantage for the Jerry Yates goal. If you watch it back you’ll see the liner flagging for the foul and luckily he allowed Yates to drive on and back his 11th goal of the season. It was a nice surprise when he only added three minutes at the end too, allowing us to hold on for the win.
Pool looked in control and took three well-earned points off a terrific side. It’s great to hear Critchley highlight how this win needs to be backed up on Tuesday night against another good team. He is very aware how hard this league can be and I’m very pleased that a young English Manager has been given his chance and is starting to succeed. Now, let’s have another three points against those Yorkshire puds!
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Image Credit: Blackpool FC
In our most recent pod, we spoke to former Pool midfielder Keith Southern to get his view on the season in the Premier League and his ten years at Bloomfield Road.