Portsmouth 3 Sheffield United 0: Morgan fuming after unacceptable display against Portsmouth

Sheffield United manager Chris Morgan has warned his players they must improve if they want to win promotion via the play-offs.
Sheffield United's new manager Chris Morgan next to new assistant manager David Unsworth.Sheffield United's new manager Chris Morgan next to new assistant manager David Unsworth.
Sheffield United's new manager Chris Morgan next to new assistant manager David Unsworth.

Saturday’s humiliating defeat to already-relegated Portsmouth finally wiped out any lingering hopes the Blades had of clinching promotion automatically.

Three goals in 11 first-half minutes did the damage, and now United face the dreaded play-offs, with memories fresh from last season when they suffered heartbreak at Wembley in a penalty shoot-out against Huddersfield Town.

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“To be 3-0 down after 35 minutes is criminal at any level and we know we must improve to win promotion via the play-offs,” said Morgan.

It was the former centre-half’s first defeat as United manager in his third game in charge since replacing the sacked Danny Wilson.

“We lost the game between the ears, Portsmouth’s desire and application to their work was much higher than ours and that isn’t acceptable, I told the players as much,” he added.

“We showed tremendous character against both Swindon and Brentford, but ultimately we have paid the price for a sloppy performance today, although Portsmouth deserve a fair amount of credit.

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“The first-half performance in particular is very hard to take, it was a million miles off how we performed against Swindon and Brentford and it must be addressed.

“We weren’t at the races first-half and I will have a look at things in that respect, perhaps I should have freshened things up a bit.”

Pompey took the lead when Shaun Cooper headed in from Patrick Agyemang’s cross, before David Connolly doubled their advantage from close-range and Jed Wallace completed the scoring.

United have two games remaining, starting tomorrow night at Crewe, and Morgan is considering changes to freshen up the team and prepare them mentally for next month’s play-offs.

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“We need to look at possible changes to the team, but we won’t be making any kind of a knee-jerk reaction because we still have a very good group of players,” he said.

“Of course we are disappointed, even after we changed things at the break and got more balls into the Portsmouth box, we still didn’t get enough bodies in the box and put them under pressure.

“We have now got two fixtures remaining and it is imperative we finish strongly and get mentally prepared for the play-offs.”

Portsmouth: Eastwood, Moutaouakil, Sodje, Gyepes, Butler, Wallace (Maloney 88), Ertl (Awford 90), Racon, Cooper, Connolly, Agyemang (Harris 85). Unused substitutes: Smith, Walker, Akinde, Webster.

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Sheffield United: Long, McMahon (Westlake 59), Higginbotham, Collins, Hill, Flynn (Forte 46), Doyle, McDonald, Murphy, Porter, Kitson (Robson 46). Unused substitutes: Coyne, Ironside, McFadzean, Whitehouse.

Referee: L Collins (Surrey).

Blades man of the match: George Long.