Portsmouth 0-1 Rotherham Five Things: disjointed Pompey

Taylor netted the winner – bbc.co.uk

Jon Taylor’s first half goal gave Rotherham their second win of the season, a 1-0 triumph at Fratton Park. Here’s five key talking points from the game.

Pompey out of sync

Kenny Jackett introduced a three-at-the-back system and the players didn’t adjust. Of the attacking trio of Brett Pitman, Oliver Hawkins and Conor Chaplin, only the latter was capable of providing much pace and he had a quiet first half. A lot of hopeful long balls were played to Hawkins, but the target man was dominated by Richard Wood and midfielders didn’t pick up the second balls. Brett Pitman meanwhile was hoped to be the creative fulcrum but his deeper role meant he couldn’t get into goalscoring areas, where he has thrived throughout his career.

Rotherham’s organization

Paul Warne took a risk in changing three of the back-four that lost 2-0 to Charlton the week before but it worked. Michael Ihiekwe was the one survivor from that defence and justified his retention with an aerially commanding display, he and Wood well-protected by the disciplined Darren Potter and the dynamic Will Vaulks.

No Proctor? No problem.

Striker Jamie Proctor’s injury forced Warne to start with Kieffer Moore as the lone front man, which benefited the tactical make-up of the team in the first half. Lee Frecklington, Ryan Williams and Jon Taylor might have had to perform more circumspect roles in a 4-4-2, but with extra freedom the latter two combined for the opener. Williams played through Taylor, who had roamed into a central area before firing the ball into the top right-hand corner.

Subs boosted Pompey

Jackett changed to 4-4-2 at half-time and made a double-substitution, with Matty Kennedy and Nathan Thompson entering the fray to lift the home side’s performance. They attacked largely down the left in the second half with a host of players, including at times centre-back Matt Clarke, looking to provide overloads and create space for Kennedy. The winger put in a series of crosses and Jamal Lowe managed to get to the back-post ahead of Ben Purrington on numerous occasions, seeing his 49 minute effort deflected wide. Half an hour later the marauding Clarke crossed for Lowe but he couldn’t quite make contact, so Rotherham held on for victory.

In summary

Despite their second half surges, Portsmouth lacked a degree of quality in the final third. They still had the feel of a side still getting to grips with a new system and a less possession-based approach. The Millers deserved the victory based on their first half display and even though they had to dig in more after the break, the positive is that they did. After last season’s gutless displays, Rotherham at least have 11 players who are fighting for the shirt.