Chaplin ready to exit Pompey stage – but Curtis is a new star

Conor Chaplin scored again. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin scored again. Picture: Joe Pepler
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CONOR CHAPLIN’S farewell continues to grow longer, while some fans’ resolve to retain his talents strengthen by the pre-season goal.

Nonetheless, the striker is in the twilight of his Pompey career.

And amid the fazing out of his Fratton love affair has emerged a player possessing a bright Blues future.

Ronan Curtis chose Saturday to produce his most eye-catching outing yet for Kenny Jackett’s side following a summer arrival.

Granted, Pompey slipped to a 3-2 defeat to the League Two side, a maiden loss during the pre-season schedule.

Nonetheless, the display of Curtis upon his third friendly appearance was highly encouraging, demonstrating an outstanding attacking display down the left.

Dovetailing impressively with left-back Lee Brown, the Irishman’s direct style and willingness to force his way to the byeline was a constant source of Blues attacks.

Likewise Jamal Lowe on the right and, had it not been for the profligacy of Brett Pitman and then substitute Oli Hawkins, Jackett’s men may have snatched a Lamex Stadium triumph.

As it was, when Conor Chaplin finally converted yet another Curtis cross from the left, there was 89 minutes gone and the scoreline would remain fixed at 3-2.

Not that the outcome should detract from Curtis’ showing – and neither Chaplin’s fourth goal in three friendly appearances.

He remains set for Coventry, while two bids rejected by Cheltenham for Mo Eisa establishes who Pompey have identified as his replacement.

As it was, the visitors broke the deadlock on 20 minutes when Evans curled a right-footed shot home from inside the box.

Yet, on 30 minutes, Matt Clarke couldn’t deal with an aerial ball and Ben Kennedy rattled off a crisp first-time finish for the equaliser.

The introduction of Emmanuel Sonupe at the interval then changed the destiny of the match.

His 56th minute run opened it up for Andronicos Georgiou to net with a wicked deflection of Tom Naylor.

Then Sonupe’s left-wing cross was met with a fierce close-range header from Georgiou to make it 3-1 on 70 minutes.

And there was to be no coming back for Pompey.

Pompey: MacGillivray, Thompson, Whatmough (62 mins Burgess), Clarke, Brown, May (62 mins Rose), Naylor (84 mins Haunstrup), Evans (62 mins Chaplin), Lowe, Curtis, Pitman (62 mins Hawkins).

Subs Not Used: McGee, Dennis, Smith, Casey.