Pompey 1 FC Utrecht 1 '“ Neil Allen's match report

For a fixture expected to provide selection answers, the visit of FC Utrecht also conjured up a fair few questions.

Sunday, 29th July 2018, 11:05 am
Updated Sunday, 29th July 2018, 12:14 pm
Pompey drew with Utrecht. Picture: Ben Queenborough

In the build-up to Saturday's encounter, Kenny Jackett spoke of how Pompey's line-up would bear a similarity to that facing Luton in the League One opener.

Yet irrespective of a fine result and encouraging display over the Dutch side, the Blues boss' chosen system and several personnel choices would have surprised many.

Certainly enough ponderables to raise quizzical glances among the Fratton faithful so close to the curtain raiser.

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The Blues rolled out the same side which faced Brighton in the week during a behind-closed-doors encounter.

In the process, by once again fielding a 4-4-2, it appears Jackett's favoured 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 from last term has now been shelved.

The new-look system involved Brandon Haunstrup pushed into a left-midfield role, while Ronan Curtis partnered Brett Pitman in a two-pronged attack.

Interestingly, Anton Walkes and Tom Naylor were the central-midfield pairing, while what has been the regular back four remained intact.

It was Walkes who weighed in with the equaliser on 44 minutes '“ and what a strike it was.

The lively Curtis clipped in a cross from the left, Pitman controlled on his chest and steered it into the path of the ex-Spurs man who crashed a stunning first-time right-footed shot from 25-yards into the top corner.

Yet that wasn't even the best goal of the game.

On 15-minutes, FC Utrecht right-back Sean Klaiber lashed a first-time effort from 30-yards which screamed into the far top corner, leaving Craig MacGillivray no chance.

Occasions dripping in quality during a match largely uneventful except for a disallowed goal for each side.

The energetic Curtis stole the show, while Tom Naylor's contribution drew several moments of admiring applause from the 4,299 crowd.

But whether this is Jackett's first-choice set-up, such questions still need answering.

Pompey: MacGillivray (McGee, 73min), Thompson (Close, 73min), Whatmough, Clarke (Burgess, 73min), Brown, Lowe (Evans, 62min), Walkes, Naylor (Rose, 73min), Haunstrup, Curtis (Hawkins, 73min), Pitman (Chaplin, 73min).

Subs Not Used: Dennis, May.

FC Utrecht: Jensen, Klaiber, Leeuwin, Janssen, van der Maarel (Guwara, 83min), Strieder (Troupee, 61min); van Overeem, Emanuelson, van de Streek (Boussaid, 83min); Gustafson (Joosten, 83min), Kerk (Dessers, 9min (Gortler, 73min)). Subs Not Used: de Keijzer, Paes, Memengi.

Attendance: 4,299 (144 away fans)