Macca demands Pompey goal bravery

James Dunne celebrates his goal against Dagenham & Redbridge. Picture: Joe Pepler
James Dunne celebrates his goal against Dagenham & Redbridge. Picture: Joe Pepler

Alan McLoughlin has called on the Blues’ midfielders to display the bravery required to add goals to their game.

Pompey have found scoring difficult in League Two this season and presently have the joint-third lowest return.

Although Andy Awford has deployed a number of strike partnerships to resolve the problem, the lack of goals from midfield is also a concern.

In terms of those in central positions, James Dunne, Danny Hollands and Nigel Atangana have netted just once between them during the campaign.

Winger Ricky Holmes has drawn a blank from his 11 matches, while regular substitute Andy Barcham has one.

Johnny Ertl did net against Wycombe, although he has largely operated as a central defender this season.

That leaves Jed Wallace – top scorer with seven, and whose penalty against Shrewsbury last weekend ended 463 minutes without a league goal on their travels.

Clearly Wallace represents the likely goal threat among his midfield colleagues and McLoughlin wants a change of culture among the department.

Joint first-team coach said: ‘In the first half of the reserves on Tuesday I was disappointed our good play didn’t result in a finish, there were not enough men flooding into the box.

‘It is something we are trying to address at the first-team level as well.

‘Once you have played it wide, there is no point admiring your pass thinking “that is a lovely pass I have played there”.

‘Have a bit of something about you, get in, get a tap in from eight yards out. We just need to do that a little bit more.

‘Our approach play is good, it’s just that final bit where they don’t believe. It’s not like we don’t do enough in training about putting the ball back and getting in there, you have to take it into match situations.

‘When I used to play, I would want three chances each half and you keep going, you have to be brave to go in there and keep missing.

‘If you miss the target then people slate you from the sidelines but you have got to be brave enough and strong enough to pick yourself up and go again.

‘Against Bournemouth reserves, Ben Close scored after getting into the box and Nick Awford has also gone into the box on occasions.

‘We just now need to see some of the pros getting into the box, going in where it hurts and not being afraid to miss.’

The lack of goals from midfield is nothing new, there was also a problem last year.

Simon Ferry netted once in 22 appearances before his summer switch to Dundee, while player-of-the-year Holmes scored twice in 45 matches.

Barcham chalked up three goals in 31 appearances, with Romain Padovani – who departed this summer – registering once in 22 outings.

Wes Fogden, who has yet to play this season after damaging knee ligaments during pre-season training, bagged twice in 19 games.

Wallace again was the chief goal threat, with seven in his 48 appearances, all from open play.

But Pompey require goals from other sources if they are to achieve their ambitions this season.