Big performance needed after Stanley debacle, says Curtis

RONAN CURTIS has admitted the players need to ‘repay the fans’ when high-flying Ipswich Town head to Fratton Park on Saturday.

Pompey produced their worst performance of the season last weekend in a dismal 4-1 defeat at Accrington Stanley, ending a run of ten games undefeated in all competitions for Kenny Jackett’s side.

Despite employing a makeshift defence at the Crown Ground with midfielder Tom Naylor dropping in to the back four, there was no excuse for the lacklustre performance, and in-form Curtis knows they must bounce back for the visit of the second-top Tractor Boys before league leaders Wycombe arrive on the south coast on Boxing Day.

“We want to repay the fans for the performance at Accrington last week and do all we can to try to get the win,” said Curtis, whose goal last Saturday made it five in his last six appearances.

“There have been a good few days in training and now we’re looking forward to facing the top two sides in the division.

“We know just how good we can be when we’re at home and the fans at Fratton Park are cheering us on.”

There was no indication that a performance as inept as the one produced at Accrington was on the horizon, and Jackett is hoping it proves to be a one-off. Pompey had built up a degree of momentum before the Stanley defeat, pushing themselves to the fringes of the play-off places.

They face a tough few days with back-to-back games against the top two in League One, and if they are still unbeaten at home in the league at 5pm on Boxing Day they will have put the Accrington defeat firmly behind them.

Jackett said: “We need to learn from last week’s performance and try to shore things up because we were far too open.

“That has to be addressed – whether it’s tactical or with personnel – and try to bounce back on Saturday. We don’t want a repeat of how we played there (at Accrington) – particularly defensively – but the emphasis in training has been on Ipswich.

“Before last Saturday at Accrington we’d built up some real momentum and so we can’t let that one game stop us.”

Christian Burgess is available after serving a one-game ban with Oli Hawkins returning to the squad following the birth of his first child. Lee Brown is out after undergoing an Achilles operation with Jack Whatmough playing in a training ground friendly as he moves closer to a first-team return.

• There will be tributes to D-Day veteran and boardroom steward John Jenkins, former manager Jim Smith, and former player Ron Saunders at Fratton Park on Saturday. Chief executive Mark Catlin said: “We have recently lost Ron, Jim and now John. We are working on fitting ways to pay tribute to all of them at Saturday’s game.”