Jack Marriott makes first pre-season appearance as sloppy Posh beaten 2-0 at Portsmouth
The first appearance of the new campaign for Marriott was one of the few positives for Posh as they slumped to a disappointing defeat at Fratton Park.
It was a performance charactarised by sloppy mistakes in possession, particularly at the back, which cost Posh time and time again. If not for some good last ditch defending then the scoreline could have been more.
In part, the problems can be traced to Jonson Clarke Harris’s continued absence, meaning there was little point in sending the ball long but the likes of Mark Beevers, Frankie Kent and Christy Pym will need to shoulder some personal responsibility for surrendering possession far too easily in their own third.
Pym and Beevers were both guilty of getting the ball stuck under their feet for Pompey’s opener, gifting Ryan Tunnicliffe a goal against his old side, before Pym was closed down by Marcus Harness in the lead up to Portsmouth’s second; a fine finish into the bottom corner from Ronan Curtis.
It nearly got worse before half-time when Posh were robbed again and only a Nathan Thompson tackle prevented a second Portsmouth player, John Marquis, scoring into an open goal.
Thompson himself had a torrid second half, incurring the wrath of his once home crowd after a wrestling match with Marquis. A mixture of that and a second pull back would certainly have seen him sent off in a competitive fixture.
Posh huffed and puffed in the second half to and reduce the deficit but rarely came close in what was not the preparation for next week’s trip to Luton Darren Ferguson was looking for.
Portsmouth had the better of the early possession and had the first shot, with in the first few minutes when Pym comfortably saved Reeco Hackett-Fairchid’s low effort.
That seemed to spring Posh into life, who nearly got Marriott in behind on a counter-attack, before Grant saw a shot deflected just wide of Bass’s near-post. Grant took the resulting corner, picking out Kent and from his knock-down Posh almost lead to Thompson getting a chance to score against his former club.
Pompey got straight back on the front foot though, and nearly made the breakthrough after 15 minutes when Curtis’s shot from the edge of the box found it’s way through a number of bodies and forced Pym to get down low again, before the ball was hacked clear.
Chants of “Championship you’re having a laugh” were ringing around Fratton Park and it’s true Posh were certainly giving their hosts plenty of encouragement with sloppy passes and switching off in possession.
The worst of this gave Pompey the lead, when Beevers was caught dwelling in the ball in his own box, Pym had been guilty of the same moments before. He gifted possession to Portsmouth’s forwards, who laid off a neat pass to Tunnicliffe to slot into an empty net in the 25th minute.
They nearly doubled their lead soon after when Marcus Harness was left unmarked in the box, but he headed just over.
They did just that in the 40th minute when Pym was again put under pressure by Harness, his kick deflected off the forward and Pompey picked up possession, gave the ball to Curtis and he ripped in a curling effort into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Just before that, Posh had come close twice through Szmodics, arriving late to first a Ward and then a Butler cross, both times he was unable to find the target.
To round off their first half dominance, Portsmouth nearly made it three when Posh gave the ball away yet again in their own third but the hosts were denied this time by a combination of a Pym save and a diving tackle from Thompson as Marquis looked to get their second tap-in.
To makes matters worse, Bass, in the Portsmouth goal, gifted the ball to Burrows right at the end of the half but he scuffed a long range effort wide as Marriott was begging for a pass.
Posh started the second half in a similar fashion when Kent’s back pass slipped in Marquis but Thompson was able to get back and was grateful to see Curtis put the header wide from Harness’s eventual cross.
Posh began to grow increasingly frustrated and that boiled over when Thompson and Marquis became involved in a wrestling match, which ended with them both on the floor shouting in each other’s faces. Both received yellows but the punishment would likely have been more severe in a league match.
Fergie took the decision to spare Thompson from anymore from the crowd soon after and replaced him with young midfielder Kellan Hickinson. in the 73rd minute.
Fellow young midfielder Harry Titchmarsh also got onto the pitch in the closing stages as Jack Taylor limped off after treatment, another headache Posh did not need.
Posh: Pym, Butler, Beevers, Kent, Thompson (Hickinson 73), Ward, Taylor (Titchmarsh), Grant, Burrows, Szmodics, Marriott (Kanu 46 mins)
Portsmouth- Tunnicliffe (14 mins), Curtis (40 mins)
Posh - Thompson (60 mins)
Pompey- Marquis (60 mins)