Guy’s lowest point since Pompey fortunes turned

John Sullivan uses a towel to hide his York disappointment Picture: Joe Pepler
John Sullivan uses a towel to hide his York disappointment Picture: Joe Pepler

For Guy Whittingham, the Bootham Crescent debacle was the lowest point since it all began at Hartlepool last season.

That mid-February goalless draw ended a run of nine straight defeats and launched an upturn in fortunes which would earn Whittingham the Pompey manager’s job on a permanent basis – as well as raise expectations heading into the current campaign.

A total of 23 matches have passed since that 0-0 Victoria Park result – then came the Blues’ abject York showing.

Emphatically the worst performance produced by Pompey’s players during that period – and loss number four out of nine during this League Two campaign.

Supporters would be hard-pressed to even recall witnessing such a shambolic display during any of the three relegation seasons in the past four years.

And Whittingham was at a loss to pinpoint why a visit to York, in particular, had thrown up such a gutless showing.

He said: ‘That was our worst display since that February time.

‘I think you can dismiss the period before that because of everything going on at the club. But, certainly, since we’ve had a settled side I don’t think we’ve had a performance like that.

‘That’s why you don’t see it coming because you don’t change anything, you don’t change your training routines or what you say to them or what they do.

‘Saturday wasn’t there and that is not good enough from all of us.

‘Again, we have come away from home and scored two goals but we have let four in because we didn’t have the desire to stand up to them and they worked harder than us. I haven’t seen it before.

‘You are thinking, perhaps it is a thing where everybody raises their game against Portsmouth – and it might be the case. But it just hasn’t happened before.

‘We have handled that pressure before but didn’t step up on Saturday.

‘We didn’t move the ball quick enough, we backed off, we went backwards too much, we went sideways too much.

‘Where we have been bright and lively before and shifting the ball quickly, we didn’t do that enough.

‘That is mental bravery as much as anything else.

‘I can’t believe I’ve witnessed a performance as lacklustre from a Portsmouth side for six or so months.’

Pompey’s game plan at York was knocked off course in the 16th minute when Simon Ferry was withdrawn from the action with a hamstring injury.

It was sustained in the warm-up and saw Johnny Ertl pair up with Romain Padovani in the centre of midfield.

Certainly, it was a partnership which didn’t shine and one that had an impact on the eventual result.

Then again, Pompey were already a goal down when Ferry limped off the field of play.

Whittingham added: ‘Simon felt his hamstring in the warm-up. It was just a twinge and didn’t get any better out there.

‘So for the sake of the team we had to bring him off.

‘We will now see whether they (Ertl and Padovani) can play together – although, hopefully, we have managed to stop it getting any worse with Simon.

‘But the creativity changed a little bit with him going off.

‘Roman was doing well in his first three games, he needs to step up to that mark now.’