Familiar place but different Naismith excels for Pompey

Kal Naismith celebrates his goal on Boxing Day. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith celebrates his goal on Boxing Day. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Rodney Parade staged his full Pompey debut.

Yet the Newport County crowd witnessed a very different Kal Naismith upon his return.

Regardless of the penalty miss on Boxing Day, I felt a different player and it was good to come back and get another win

Kal Naismith

And how they suffered as the new-look Scot revelled on his comeback both into Paul Cook’s starting line-up and also to south Wales.

It has been more than 14 months since Naismith was granted a long-awaited Blues bow following an injury-interrupted start to the 2015-16 campaign.

Featuring for 59 minutes before he was replaced by Romy Boco, that October 2015 clash was settled by a Matt Tubbs strike.

In the current day, Naismith is in the form of his Pompey career, consistency which on Boxing Day earned him a first league start since Doncaster Rovers on October 1.

By his own admission, it was fitting his re-emergence arrived at Rodney Parade.

Likewise, the match-winner delivered when his inswinging free-kick capped a superb fightback from the Blues as they snatched a 3-2 victory.

And the former Rangers man considers himself a better performer than the one which last trod that awful Newport pitch.

He said: ‘My very first league start for Portsmouth was Newport away last year, Tubbsy got the goal and it was a Benno assist.

‘That was a tough day, so I knew going back on Boxing Day was going to be another tough match.

‘Despite winning that, personally this year’s game gave me a lot better feeling than last.

‘The other day I was actually watching highlights of that match from last year and I could see in my movements I was tense and uptight, I was so anxious and eager.

‘Regardless of the penalty miss on Boxing Day, I felt a different player and it was good to come back and get another win.

‘I didn’t realise it had been almost three months since my last league start and hopefully I can now keep my place for Yeovil.

‘If it’s someone else then I’ll get right behind them. If I am called upon again at Yeovil, I’ll try to do my best and help us to three points.

‘All the boys are working hard, it is a great squad, we are all fit and work hard, no-one sulks when out of the team. We are there for each other.’

Newport represented Naismith’s fourth goal in his last seven appearances – and a fifth for the campaign.

His delivery from dead balls is growing ever-more crucial, adding a different danger to Pompey’s armoury.

And in difficult pitch conditions at the Exiles, it was a moment of magic so vital.

He added: ‘You have to win ugly and, when you look at the pitch, it was a game to play the conditions. It wasn’t going to be pretty,

‘The ball was bouncing around and trying to get hold of it can make players look silly touch-wise but we played the conditions well.

‘I remember Michael Doyle saying “Don’t worry, we’ll get back in this”.

‘There was loads of positivity throughout the squad and it was great to see it through with a win.’