Comment: A sad - but understandable - Pompey ending for Smith

Michael Smith departed Pompey on loan for Northampton yesterday     Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith departed Pompey on loan for Northampton yesterday Picture: Joe Pepler
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Michael Smith cut in from the left-hand side and carved his way across the face of the penalty area.

His positivity and determination had levered open a tantalising glimpse of Leyton Orient’s goal.

Expectant Pompey fans waited and waited and waited. Yet no shot was forthcoming.

Instead, Smith slid the ball to his right where Carl Baker was positioned and the move fizzled out disappointingly.

Sapped of confidence and deprived of self-belief, during that first-half moment Pompey possessed a striker unwilling to shoot.

Granted, there was a header cleared off the line by Orient skipper Tom Parkes, but the reticence of Smith remained sobering.

The Blues’ following fixture saw Exeter last weekend visit Fratton Park, an encounter which yielded defeat and a morale-sapping home loss.

On 59 minutes, Smith was withdrawn for Jamal Lowe, a decision unmistakably attracting cheers.

Some may reason the disappointing reaction was prompted over the necessity for Lowe’s introduction to liven up a limp Pompey.

Yet clearly there was also a loud embracing at the removal of the faltering striker from the field of play.

In the short-term, Cook could no longer consider Smith for a starting XI spot, certainly at home.

It now remains doubtful whether he will also don Pompey colours in the future following a loan exit to Northampton.

Undoubtedly, Smith’s form had been a concern, his displays largely unconvincing, with no goal in eight matches weighing heavily.

The 25-year-old’s attitude, though, could never be questioned, neither a willingness to give his last breath for his employers.

Unselfish and wholehearted, there was once a time when players demonstrating 100 per cent commitment could do no wrong in supporters’ eyes.

The fact is Smith has struggled to win over the Fratton faithful since his permanent arrival in June.

Initially sidelined by injury during pre-season, displays never matched his on-loan tenure during the second half of the 2015-16 campaign.

There was a flutter of three goals in successive matches in November, earning Smith a starting line-up recall. There was also a Checkatrade Trophy hat-trick at Yeovil.

Yet, irrespective of any hostile crowd reaction, fans are correct to possess a certain amount of dissatisfaction over Smith’s overall performances. Much more was anticipated.

The transfer deadline day arrival of Eoin Doyle prompted Smith’s name to immediately be circulated.

Football’s response was a procession of clubs willing to take him on loan until the season’s end.

Many emanating from League One, there remain admirers of the striker’s talents.

Just not at Fratton Park and, for that, Smith must, sadly, take partial responsibilty.