Jackson: Pompey a Big Test For Us
Friday, 19th Mar 2021 11:21
Town striker Kayden Jackson has acknowledged the importance of tomorrow’s visit to play-off rivals Portsmouth, as well as the need to put in a performance that will erase memories of the midweek horror show in losing 2-0 at Fleetwood.
The Blues headed north on the back of a 1-0 win over Plymouth at Portman Road last weekend, but despite feeling confident about their task new boss Paul Cook witnessed what many regular observers believe was their worst 90 minutes of the season so far.
Jackson, who has been restored to the senior squad after he and Jon Nolan were exiled to train with the U23 group during the last few weeks of Paul Lambert’s time in charge, said: “Tomorrow’s game is huge but all the games we’ve got coming up are huge.
“Obviously, we want to be there and we want to not just maintain the gap between us and others below us but also extend it.
“We want to get back on track after Tuesday’s poor display, which is a massive must. At this stage of the season we need to be winning more games than we’re not, so it’s a huge game. It will be a very big test for us and hopefully one we can pass.”
Town have 12 games left to play in the coming weeks – four at home and eight away – and with Pompey having sacked manager Kenny Jackett this week, and replacing him with ex-Lincoln and Huddersfield boss Danny Cowley, they are also clearly determined to get their act together after a winless run of five league games reaped a mere two points.
Despite a glaring lack of consistency that has seen them win one, draw one and lose two of Cook’s first four games in charge, the opportunity remains for the seventh-placed Blues to seal a play-off place and then, potentially, a return to playing at Championship level next season.
Asked if it was a case of ‘no excuses’ for Jackson and his colleagues, he responded: “Yes, definitely. A lot of the teams in and around us are faltering. We’ve probably picked up in terms of momentum from where we were earlier on.
“We dropped away and it looked as if we might not get it back again but the lads have done extremely well to get back in this position. We just need to capitalise on that now and hopefully finish the season strongly. We’ll see where we are come the end of the season.”
Still mystified by the lacklustre display at Fleetwood three days ago, Jackson added: “It was extremely disappointing, just one of those nights in football where, for whatever reason, pretty much everyone was below par.
“Football can be tough because when you have a win on the Saturday, like we did against Plymouth, and you go into the Fleetwood game full of confidence, positive, but put in a performance like that, it is disappointing.
“Even now, three days later, we are still feeling the effects of it and hopefully we can put that right at Portsmouth tomorrow.
“Why does it happen? I can’t really put my finger on it to be honest. We prepared right and while it’s a long journey up north there’s not really any excuse for it.
“We were in a hotel, we had time to rest, we ate and drank well, so it’s just bizarre that we should go on to the pitch and perform like that. It’s disappointing to be a part of it and I can imagine it’s disappointing to watch.”
Jackson said new boss Cook, undoubtedly shocked by what he saw on the pitch, remained calm in addressing the players afterwards.
“The manager was composed and got his points across,” said the striker. “He’s not – well not at the minute anyway – one to lose his rag and be screaming and shouting.
“Obviously, every manager works differently, but he definitely got his points across and as a group we definitely took on board what he said.
With fit-again striker James Norwood returning to the squad bound for Fratton Park it will be interesting to see Cook’s starting line-up. If Norwood goes straight back into the side it could be at Jackson’s expense, although another possibility is that the pair form a double spearhead and Tottenham loanee Troy Parrott might be the one to make way.
Jackson said: “We showed on Saturday that if we play football in the right way, in the right manner, getting the ball on the floor and getting passes forward, I’m as happy as anyone to be playing up there.
“Tuesday night was disappointing and for whatever reason, if it was the ball not dropping for us or whether the service was slightly different to the Saturday, I don’t know, but I was certainly disappointed with my own performance as well.
“I let my frustration get the better of me, the way the game was going and stuff like that. It just depends on the way we play really as a team, but I am happy playing up there.
“I’ve seen a lot less of Troy than everybody else to be honest but even just playing with him in the last couple of games, Plymouth especially, you can see he picks up some good areas, he’s very good technically on the ball and overall a very good player. I’m sure he has a good career ahead of him.”
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