John Marquis bagged two goals as Portsmouth strolled to a superb 4-0 win over Sunderland on Saturday – and it no doubt left Black Cats fans shellshocked as their hunt for a top two spot in League One hit a brick wall against Danny Cowley’s side.
Pompey had gone over a month and seven third tier games without a win until their emphatic victory at the weekend. Alternatively, Lee Johnson’s men hadn’t lost a league game since the 17th of August.
Yet when the two sides collided on Saturday, you’d have thought it was the other way round. The home side battered Sunderland’s goal and broke the deadlock within twenty minutes thanks to a Marcus Harness effort. Not content to sit back, they bagged another just over ten minutes later through Lee Brown.
They were 3-0 up just before half-time, Marquis bagging his first goal for Portsmouth since his team’s win over Crewe back in August. He added another to his tally in the second half to seal all three points for the Fratton Park outfit.
So, after such a stunning showing from Pompey, here are three things we learnt about the club after their 4-0 win.
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1. John Marquis is still a reliable goalscorer at League One level.
I’m not sure it was ever in doubt but after another solid showing on Saturday and a further two goals for John Marquis, there can be no question that a side with him in it can bag plenty of goals.
This year, he may only have a tally of three so far but there’s no doubt the 29-year old has an eye for a finish and can lead the line well regardless of what team he plays in. He was lauded by many during his time at Doncaster Rovers and many clubs in higher divisions were keeping tabs on him over a potential move. After over 60 goals in 153 appearances, that’s certainly not a surprise.
It was Pompey who eventually landed his signature and he’s so far repaid them with a total of 35 to date. That includes 16 last year (and seven assists) as the Fratton Park side only narrowly missed out on a play-off place.
This season he hasn’t started perhaps as quickly as he or fans of the club would have liked but he’s proven he hasn’t lost a step with two goals against a side who would consider themselves as title challengers. When he plays, he always puts in a shift and there’s no denying that the forward, on his day, is a nightmare for opposition League One defenders. If he keeps putting in the work, the goals will begin to flow again and he’ll be hoping that his two finishes against Sunderland are a sign of things to come.
2. Lee Brown is as reliable as ever.
Lee Brown will find himself in unfamiliar territory after this weekend, as another goal for the 31-year old makes him his side’s joint top-scorer with three! Irrespective of his newfound goalscoring ability though, the player has been solid for Danny Cowley’s team and put in another top performance against the Black Cats. He bagged himself a spot in the Team of the Week and his bombarding runs down the left and his exceptional vision has been pivotal to the way that his boss wants him to play.
With four chances created, he had more than any other player on the pitch and it seems that age is certainly not slowing the former Bristol Rovers man down. He’s been a mainstay in the side and has earned his starting spot over the duration of his ten games so far. He’s one of Portsmouth’s most important players right now and they need Brown to keep up this level of performance if they want to push for promotion again.
3. Danny Cowley’s tactics and vision may finally be coming to light at Fratton Park.
Danny Cowley is no stranger to success as a manager so far, having helped create and build one of the best Lincoln City sides in recent memory. Having guided them to a National League title win, he then went one better and got them into the third tier (via yet another title win) and established them as an EFL mainstay.
As if that wasn’t enough, he then managed to keep Huddersfield Town afloat in the Championship before being given the chop and landing at current side Portsmouth. Now, he’s been backed by the board and wants to work similar magic at Fratton Park.
Cowley always has a vision of how he wants his sides to play and it often has exactly the desired effect. So far though, his team have struggled to match the performances to results. They may have played some decent football in recent weeks but it’s only resulted in draws to Plymouth and Charlton and even a loss to Burton.
On Saturday though, things began to click into place. The performance matched the result and his team prevailed as 4-0 winners against a good team. Cowley will certainly be hoping this can be the start of his Pompey side picking up more and more wins and pushing further and further in the right direction in League One.