Bognor 2 Pompey 4

Patrick Agyemang on the attack at Bognor
Patrick Agyemang on the attack at Bognor
Wes Thomas netted for Oxford against Plymouth

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Cameos are all Pompey fans have to go on at present.

Such has been Guy Whittingham’s pre-season selection policy, a 45-minute star turn is all they have to gauge an opinion.

With so many new faces having so few minutes on the pitch, instant impressions are telling.

Against the Hawks it was Ryan Bird and Romain Padovani whose effective performances caught the eye.

On Saturday it was Ricky Holmes – and surrounding him was Whittingham’s first selection dilemma.

Nyewood Lane was the Blues’ second setting of the friendly fixture calendar, played on the hottest day of the year so far.

During the searing second-half heat, the former Barnet man scored one and contributed to two more in the 4-2 victory.

Occupying the right wing, he was involved in all three of the Blues goals in that time.

A favourable impact then from Holmes, who before the Hawks game had not played in a match since February.

The wide man’s quick feet, pace and skill suggest even at this early stage the new recruit can develop into a high-quality signing for Whittingham.

Then again, many can still recall John Utaka’s first fleet-footed Pompey steps, only to slow to walking pace.

Holmes had entered the field of play with his 10 team-mates with the scoreline 1-0 at the start of the second half.

In a comfortable opening 45 minutes for the visitors, David Connolly struck in the 35th minute to break the deadlock.

The goal was conjured up by Wallace, who whipped an excellent ball into the near post where Connolly popped up to finish smartly.

The teenager was, of course, featuring in the right-midfield role he performed so admirably in last season.

Quite a day then for the two players who occupied the right flank against Bognor.

It is certainly boiling up to be quite a contest as the duo go head to head for the position in the forthcoming campaign.

Wallace was among a strong first-half line-up which arguably included seven starters for the league opener against Oxford.

John Sullivan, Sonny Bradley, Joe Devera, Johnny Ertl, Andy Barcham, Patrick Agyemang and David Connolly can expect to make it on August 3.

That is providing Whittingham maintains the 4-4-2 system which served him so well at the end of last season.

Of the others starting against the Rocks, Liam Triggs will be replaced by Dan Butler at left-back and Nick Awford will move out of the centre of midfield.

An interesting battle is also developing between Danny East and Yassin Moutaouakil at right-back.

Then there is the right-hand side of midfield.

Wallace’s breakthrough season was breathtaking at times, culminating in an England under-19 call up.

His drive, enthusiasm, energy and goals have catapulted him into unquestionably the club’s most-prized asset.

Now, judging from 45 minutes on Saturday when Holmes bared his teeth, Wallace faces a fight for his first-team spot.

That’s competition, as Whittingham so regularly refers to it, even if his squad does remain small and still in need of strengthening.

However, it promises to be a fascinating battle between the midfield pair between now and the visit of Oxford.

Not that it was completely the Ricky Holmes show at Nyewood Lane, although he did his best to dominate.

Others also got their opportunity to impress as Whittingham ditched his triallists.

Bondz N’Gala was told on Tuesday night there was nothing going, while Arnaud Mendy and Shaun Cooper were also waved off in the build-up to Saturday.

Meanwhile, Bird continues to holiday in Spain before his return at the end of the week.

That left all 17 of the Blues boss’ first-team squad, plus the five-man development group, of which only Triggs had appeared in pre-season.

Josh Warren, Jack Maloney and George Branford all played for 45 minutes in the second half, getting their first involvement in the friendly programme.

They were joined in that period by Phil Smith, Moutaouakil, Adam Webster, Ashley Harris, Tom Craddock, Butler and Padovani.

Contrasting personnel and definitely contrasting halves.

The visitors were entirely comfortable in the first 45 minutes, but Connolly’s goal, created by Wallace, was all they had to show for it.

Early on, Patrick Agyemang headed wide, then prodded the ball over the bar from close range as the keeper raced off his line.

Bognor hit back on 11 minutes when Aaron Hopkinson cut in from the right and fired a left-foot shot which John Sullivan gathered at his second attempt.

In the 17th minute, Johnny Ertl clipped a cross in from the left and Danny East ghosted in to plant a header into the side netting.

After the break, Craddock sent a looping first-time shot over the keeper and off the top of the bar.

Pompey did extend their lead in the 63rd minute when Holmes crossed from the right and Padovani rifled home a shot from the edge of the box.

Barely a minute later and it was 3-0, Craddock fed Holmes to finish with his left foot.

Terry Dodd’s smart finish in the 75th minute saw the Rocks register, only for Craddock to convert Holmes’ cross from close range.

In the 89th minute, Bognor grabbed another when Harvey Whyte netted after Smith failed to clear and it finished 4-2.

Successive pre-season wins then against non-league opposition for Pompey before tomorrow’s visit to Braintree.

No doubt more food for thought will be provided for Whittingham as pre-season develops in terms of his line-up.

It remains no secret he is already on the trail of a central midfielder to recruit to his squad.

Regardless, there will be big calls to make on the right flank, approaching that Oxford curtain-raiser.