Jack Whatmough makes Pompey return in reserves triumph
Jack Whatmough was back in Pompey colours for the first time in almost a year to lead them to victory over Crawley Town.
The central defender was named as skipper for today’s reserve fixture at their Copnor Road training ground.
It represented a maiden match outing for the Blues since sustaining cruciate knee ligament damage almost a year to the day.
Whatmough recovered from that March 2015 bombshell against Cheltenham to turn out six times for the Hawks during a recent loan spell.
However, this afternoon he was a welcome sight back in the Pompey shirt as Ian Foster’s side clinched a 3-2 win over Crawley.
Featuring as part of a back three in a 3-5-2 system, it was another confident display from the 19-year-old, who also impressed during his time at Westleigh Park.
At the other end, substitute Michael Smith netted and laid on another for Adam May to turn the result in the Blues’ favour.
Earlier, Kal Naismith cancelled out a Roarie Deacon opener which had come completely against the run of play.
A triallist for the visitors reduced the deficit three minutes from time, yet there was to be no stopping Foster’s side claiming the triumph.
And for Whatmough it was another landmark in his recovery from a serious knee injury.
Foster had named a strong starting line-up for the visit of Crawley, although was without the presence of any recognised right-back following the recent injury to Kieron Freeman.
That forced the first-team coach to go with a 3-5-2 system, Whatmough joined in a back three by Adam Barton and Matt Clarke.
Brandon Haunstrup operated as left wing-back, Ben Tollitt asked to step in on the right, with May and Ben Close the two central midfielders.
There were also starts for Naismith and Conor Chaplin, who both appeared as substitutes in Saturday’s 3-0 home defeat to Newport County.
When the match kicked off, the Blues struck the bar three times within the opening 16 minutes as Crawley led a charmed life.
McGurk (twice) and Naismith were the unfortunates, while Chaplin also went close during some heavy pressure from the home side.
Yet against the run of play Crawley broke the deadlock, Deacon’s shot squirming through Alex Bass’ dive to enter the net in the 34th minute.
Barely four minutes later and Chaplin pulled the ball back, which Naismith seized hold of to lash home a leveller.
The scoreline remained level until the 68th minutes, when Tollitt crossed from the right and Smith turned in a smart first-time finish.
The big striker turned provider in the 78th minute, cutting the ball back from the byline for May to slot home a first-time shot.
Crawley picked up a consolation in the 87th minute with a close-range finish, yet it remained a win for Pompey.
POMPEY: Bass, Whatmough, Clarke, Barton, Tollitt (81 mins Haitham), Haunstrup, Close, May (81 mins Joseph-Buadi), Naismith (81 mins Oxlade-Chamberlain), Chaplin, McGurk (64 mins Smith)