Rocks 0 Pompey 2 – Neil Allen’s match report

Pompey keeper Luke McGee. Picture: Joe Pepler

Keeper on Pompey’s hunt for a little extra

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The week began with the pursuit towards successful strengthening Pompey’s rearguard.

It culminated with the unveiling of a new goalscoring hero and team captain.

A clinical six days for Kenny Jackett in his Blues squad evolution which has been developing at an encouraging pace.

Brett Pitman’s arrival represented something of a transfer coup – and within 36 hours he had established himself as the fulcrum of the new Fratton Park era.

It took a mere five minutes into the striker’s Pompey presence to open his goal account at Nyewood Lane.

Handed the captain’s armband for the occasion, the former Bournemouth man wasted no time in leaving his imprint on his new surroundings.

Fittingly, Pitman would also have the final say, making it a double four minutes from time in an eye-catching bow.

In terms of a fixture, Saturday’s 2-0 victory over the Rocks generated little excitement, lacking goal-scoring incident at either end.

For a starting XI which will largely line up on August 5 against Rochdale in the League One opener, the output was rather underwhelming.

Not to diminish the crucial contribution of the two-goal Pitman, however, backed up by fellow new-boy Luke McGee’s clean sheet.

Their unveiling was always going to provide the chief talking points in the trip to Pompey’s National League South neighbours.

As it turned out, neither failed to disappoint, as Jackett’s Blues vision became a little clearer as the season’s curtain-raiser gallops closer.

For while Pitman swooped with two composed finishes, McGee also generated a moment of rich applause during an otherwise uneventful outing.

On 74 minutes, Tom Bird’s cross was flung in from the left and when Tom Davies slipped in his clearance attempt, the ball fell to substitute Tommy Scutt.

The midfielder, on Pompey’s boss through Academy years until this summer, pounced with a powerful shot which McGee brilliantly pushed away.

They’ll be other days when the Spurs arrival will endear himself to the Fratton faithful, yet that represented a tantalising glimpse.

Still, the occasion belonged to Pitman, asked to partner Conor Chaplin in a 4-4-1-1 system employed by Jackett.

Dropping behind last weekend’s chief destroyer of the Hawks, Pompey’s boss insisted the formation bore a similarity to the one so faithfully reproduced by Paul Cook last season.

Nonetheless, with a genuine striker close to the lone forward, it offered an intriguing strike pairing certain to face Rochdale in a few weeks time.

Their impact was immediate, Chaplin intercepting Sami El-Abd’s backpass to keeper Dan Lincoln before rolling it to the unmarked Pitman.

The skipper carried out his duty, placing a first-time right-foot finish into the net from eight yards.

With Pompey not electing to make substitutions, the side remained intact and Pitman struck again on 84 minutes.

Carl Baker produced a delightful clip over the Rocks defence and the striker beat the offside trap to take the ball on the chest before finishing left-footed.

Bognor: Lincoln, Whyte (46 mins Davies), Field (71 mins Block), El-Abd (46 mins Heath), Bird, Tuck, Lee (46 mins Beck), Parsons (46 mins Muitt), Suraci (63 mins Scutt), Pearce (82 mins Dolcetti), Wild (46 mins Rowlatt).

Pompey: McGee, Evans, Burgess, Davies, Holmes-Dennis, Baker, Rose, May, Bennett, Pitman, Chaplin. Subs Not Used: Bass, Talbot, Whatmough, Naismith, Lalkovic, Close, Main, Lowe, Kabamba.

Attendance 1,800 (estimated)