Ebbsfleet 3 Pompey 0

Ryan Bird battles for possession in Pompey's 3-0 loss at Ebbsfleet on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler
Ryan Bird battles for possession in Pompey's 3-0 loss at Ebbsfleet on Saturday Picture: Joe Pepler
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So Pompey slumped to a friendly defeat against a non-league side.

So what.

A highly-encouraging pre-season programme careered off the track with a 3-0 loss at Ebbsfleet on Saturday.

Andy Awford’s men were poor in many disciplines and ran out fully-deserved losers against the Conference South outfit.

Nothing fortuitous about this result, Steve Brown’s men were worthy victors in what has been an impressive summer for them up to this point.

Nonetheless, as most can appreciate, the outcome of a single pre-season friendly in relation to the campaign ahead is irrelevant.

It would have been folly tipping Pompey for League Two title success on the back of handsome victories over the Hawks and Bognor.

Similarly, they are not now destined for another campaign of relegation struggle following defeat at Ebbsfleet.

Summer friendlies hardly have a direct correlation to a forthcoming season.

Papa Bouba Diop once scored in a 2-1 win at Oxford and boldly predicted he would get 10 in the campaign ahead.

In his 72 appearances for the club he never netted, barely mustering even a shot on target.

Franck Songo’o scored three in the 2007 programme, Berlin netted at Torquay, while Danijel Subotic registered in a 3-1 success at Swindon.

Such goal feats hardly ensured they were destined for blossoming careers in the Football League let alone Pompey.

Loanee Ben Sahar registered twice in a 4-0 victory over the Hawks – never to appear for the first-team in competitive football.

Harry Redknapp’s men staggered to a 1-0 win over Eastleigh in July 2007, his side including Sylvain Distin, Sulley Muntari, Niko Kranjcar, Asmir Begovic, Benjani, Lauren, Hermann Hreidarsson and Pedro Mendes.

The campaign which followed was the Blues’ highest league finish in half a century, culminating in lifting the FA Cup.

While in July 2006, Pompey slumped to a 3-1 defeat at the Hawks in front of a crowd of 3,707.

That squad subsequently went on to finish ninth in the Premier League in the 2006/07 campaign.

Such is the breath-taking irrelevance of friendly scorelines when pinpointing success.

Let rivals mock and the doom mongers despair following the outcome of a single 90 minutes. It means nothing.

Regardless, there can be no ignoring Pompey were below-par on Saturday, particularly in comparison to their previous three pre-season fixtures.

They were dominant against the Hawks, fluent albeit wasteful in front of goal against Bognor, patient and controlled against Thurrock.

That was 12 goals from three matches with nine different scorers – they barely dragged up a shot on target against Ebbsfleet.

Such can be the mis-leading trait of pre-season encounters.

Awford and his players can point to the importance of building fitness as of primary importance on such occasions.

It is difficult to disagree as nearly all who started featured for 62 minutes, breaking the hour-barrier for the first time this summer.

Certainly it was a relaxed scene as manager and players granted interviews before many departed cradling Domino’s pizza boxes on their way to the team bus.

A total of 21 players used, no serious injuries collected, job done for the management.

Disappointingly, though, for those eager to assess the quality of the playing squad rather than fitness levels, few shone.

The combative James Dunne once more showed what he can offer, at one point sparking a melee following a full-blooded – but fair – challenge.

Paul Jones, largely untested from previous matches, produced several decent stops and it is certain he will start the season in goal.

As for the others, Jed Wallace sprang to life when moved to a more central role behind lone striker Ryan Taylor, while the industrious Nick Awford caught the eye.

Other than that, it was a largely unimpressive showing from the visitors, against a team which has also beaten Charlton and Dagenham & Redbridge during the current pre-season.

In fairness, the Blues were better in the first-half, creating several chances without managing to test Preston Edwards in goal.

Twice Wallace drove wide past the far post when in a promising position from the right, a trick repeated by Adam Webster.

Regardless, the Fleet were 1-0 up at the break when Charlie Sheringham turned home Billy Bricknell’s cross.

Worse was to come early in the second half when the unmarked Bricknell neatly glanced home a cross and then Sheringham slotted home following an initial Jones stop.

A deserved win for the hosts but an irrelevant outcome for Pompey.