Patrick Agyemang has called on faltering Pompey to up their game and resurrect early-season form.
It was another below-par display from Andy Awford’s men during a 2-0 defeat at Southend on Saturday.
The hosts were only marginally better in a poor match, yet crucially came away with the victory.
Pompey’s failure to maintain possession was an obvious concern to visiting fans present at Roots Hall.
Watching from the substitutes’ bench, the manner of the performance also alarmed Agyemang.
The powerful striker entered the pitch in the 79th minute for calf-injury victim Jed Wallace, but was unable to affect the outcome.
And he admitted the display was not good enough from Awford’s side, who have now chalked up three successive defeats.
He said: ‘It was a poor, poor performance, we can do a lot better.
‘We set our standards early and are falling short at the moment and need to pick it back up.
‘It was even. I don’t think they played particularly well either and we didn’t really stand out, we definitely have more gears to go.
‘When I was watching I was thinking Southend were poor in the first half and kept giving the ball away – and we did the same.
‘We only needed to lift it a little bit to cause them problems and for some reason that didn’t happen.
‘The pressure kept on coming and coming and eventually they got their goal.
‘The second goal was a breakaway goal, a great finish, and then after 2-0, the heads are down and it’s hard to come back from that.’
Awford opted for a 4-3-3 formation, with Craig Westcarr as the central striker in the absence of the injured Ryan Taylor.
Off him on the flanks were Miles Storey and Ricky Holmes, yet a feature of Pompey’s game was their failure to retain the ball in the Shrimpers’ half.
And for Agyemang, that particular aspect to the Blues’ make-up was crucial.
He added: ‘If you are playing with one down the middle he needs to hold the ball so that the rest of the players can come through.
‘The person up top has to hold the ball, with runners off them so chances can be created, the ball can go wide and shots can be got off.
‘It is very crucial we keep the ball because we have good footballers in the team.
‘We gave it away too often and it was sloppy at times.
‘There are decent players who have played at a higher level, players in training who never lose the ball then losing it too much on Saturday.
‘That is the difference between training and games.’
– NEIL ALLEN