Gallen: Portsmouth striker knows the score

Oli Hawkins has been challenged to ramp up his goal productivity and cement a Pompey starting spot.

Monday, 17th September 2018, 2:20 pm
Updated Monday, 17th September 2018, 3:28 pm
Pompey striker Oli Hawkins celebrates scoring his maiden goal of the season against Peterborough Picture: Joe Pepler

The striker opened his goal account for the season during Saturday's 2-1 victory at Peterborough, which fired the Blues to the top of League One.

It represented a seventh-successive league start for Hawkins as Kenny Jackett continues to prefer his presence to Brett Pitman.

But despite racking up four assists during that period, goals had continued to elude.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Pompey striker Oli Hawkins celebrates scoring his maiden goal of the season against Peterborough Picture: Joe Pepler

That finally altered at London Road, with Hawkins heading home Ronan Curtis' cross to break the deadlock.

And Joe Gallen has called on the Blues' number nine to improve his scoring credentials.

The assistant manager said: '˜It has been a long time coming, Oli had been a number nine who hadn't scored.

'˜Having said that, his contribution so far has been very, very good. Also, in terms of the defensive side. When he goes back he heads so many things out for us.

'˜But his job is to come up with some goals and we had been telling him that the week before Peterborough '“ and thankfully for him he scored.

'It will have played on Oli's mind because, no matter what club you're at, if you have the number nine shirt on your back then you need to get goals.

'˜Of course you are playing for the team, ball retention, winning headers, bringing other people into play, setting up goals, setting up chances '“ and he has been a real focal point for us.

'That's great, but deep inside he will be thinking: 'But I have to hit the net as well'.

'˜So Saturday was his moment and to score the first goal in a big game like that was very good for him.

'This is it, I hope we are not waiting that length of time for the next goal.

'˜We are waiting for him to kick on now and score some more.'

Hawkins has scored nine times in 44 appearances since joining from non-leaguers Dagenham & Redbridge.

Despite standing in as a centre-half last season, Kenny Jackett has now allocated him a striking role.

Gallen added: 'We are working with Oli and he has played his part in some wins. As long as some of the front four score we are happy.

'But, as a number nine, he will need to score some goals.

'On Saturday, Oli's confidence did jump up a notch, which you'd expect when you've been waiting for a goal and then one comes along.

'He contributed to the second goal as well.'