Pompey: Extra-Time - Striker’s role Nai bother for Kal

Kal Naismith played a striking role. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith played a striking role. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey opened their League One account with a 2-0 win against Rochdale at Fratton Park Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey 2 Rochdale 0: Highlights

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Jordan Cross takes a look back at a striking role for Kal Naismith on Saturday...

Paul Cook dropped the hint in the build-up to the game.

But the suggestion of using Kal Naismith as a front man seemed more a case of putting Hartlepool off the scent than a realistic proposition.

Just how close it was to the forefront of Cook’s mind became apparent, however, when Noel Hunt was stretchered off just before the interval of Saturday’s 2-0 win.

It was Naismith who was shoved forward into the number nine role over Conor Chaplin and Nicke Kabamba on the bench.

And the mercurial Scottish talent flourished there.

The in phrase is ‘false nine’, popularised after Roma’s Francesco Totti first took on the role over a decade ago – and that’s how Naismith approached the job.

You could throw the 25-year-old between the sticks at present and he’d flourish there, though, such is his thriving confidence.

Naismith admitted after victory he’s in the kind of form presently which is unsurpassed in his career.

That was witnessed before he was thrust into his attacking role in Cook’s preferred 4-2-3-1 formation.

The manner in which he blitzed his 17-minute strike home from Enda Stevens’ inviting delivery was indicative of where his game stands right now.

That’s 11 goals for the season and 10 in his past 23 appearances for his side.

And he added to the assist count as he showed the foresight to put the killer second goal on a plate for Gary Roberts.

Naismith is happy to continue in the attacking role, and a man-of-the-match display gave a strong case for Cook to keep him there.