Hawks 0 Pompey 5: Neil Allen’s match report

Carl Baker fires home his first goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Carl Baker fires home his first goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Ruthless Pompey grabbed five goals as they inflicted a convincing defeat on the Hawks.

Last night’s occasion marked the first of their pre-season fixtures on English soil following the tour to the Emerald Isle.

And Paul Cook’s men turned on the style against the non-leaguers to triumph 5-0 at a packed Westleigh Park.

Carl Baker netted twice, while there were also goals for Gary Roberts, Curtis Main and triallist Noel Hunt in front of 2,300 fans.

It was an impressive showing from the visitors as they demonstrated a ruthlessness in attack so frustratingly missing on occasions last term.

That was epitomised by Baker, whose willingness to shoot from distance saw him rewarded with his stunning first goal on the stroke of half-time.

While Main opened his account four minutes into his debut, climbing off the bench to score and later striking a post.

It meant Pompey recorded successive pre-season victories, even if last night would certainly have been anticipated.

Triallist keeper Michael Crowe again featured for the Blues in a starting line-up containing at least seven players who can expect to begin the opening match of the league season.

He was joined by Christian Burgess, Enda Stevens, Drew Talbot, Danny Rose, Michael Doyle, Baker and Roberts.

With a number of knocks and niggles to contend with, the bench took on a very youthful look, with five of last year’s Pompey Academy squad present.

There was also Noel Hunt, the 33-year-old striker who spent last term with Southend United and is bidding to earn a Fratton Park deal.

Meanwhile, watching from the stands were Kyle Bennett, Ben Close, Paul Jones, Matt Clarke, Gareth Evans, Tom Davies and Adam May.

The Hawks included ex-Pompey players Bradley Tarbuck and Ryan Woodford in their starting line-up, with Alfie Rutherford and Harry Medway on the bench.

Also among the substitutes were Alfy Whittingham, whose dad, Guy, was watching from the Westleigh Park stands.

And ex-Blues midfielder Wes Fogden was unveiled as a new Hawks recruit before kick-off, signing on a two-year deal, yet not ready to feature.

Kick-off had to be delayed by 15 minutes to accommodate a bumper crowd but when action got under way it was the visitors with the first opportunity.

Roberts threaded a pass down the left for Stevens and his low cross found Rose charging in. He took a touch before firing a left-foot shot just over.

On five minutes, Crowe produced a stunning stop to prevent the Hawks from taking the lead.

It was Tarbuck who fired in a shot from outside the box and the triallist flung himself to his right to fingertip the ball away for a corner.

At the other end, Milan Lalkovic drilled in a cross from the left which was met with a first-time shot over the bar from Conor Chaplin.

The deadlock was broken on 12 minutes when Lalkovic slipped the ball through to Roberts, who calmly slotted it home.

A clever move down the right involving Talbot and Roberts then presented the ball to Baker, who surged forwards and drove a powerful left-foot effort over the bar.

Pompey continued to look dangerous as Lalkovic failed to get a meaningful touch to Chaplin’s low cross, while Baker’s half-volley was straight at Hawks keeper Ryan Young.

As the half drew to a close, Lalkovic saw a shot charged down as the urge to take too many touches in front of goal was again costly.

It became 2-0 on the stroke of half-time when Baker rifled in a shot from 30 yards which crashed against the underside of the bar as it found the net.

With no changes at the break, Lalkovic laid the ball into Chaplin and his shot was brilliantly blocked by the onrushing Young.

Baker grabbed his second on 56 minutes, tapping home when Lalkovic’s shot was saved and Roberts squared the ball across goal.

Substitute Hunt was the next to register, sliding home Stevens’ low cross from the left from point-blank range in the 69th minute.

The goals continued to flow, Main marking his fourth minute on the pitch by finishing after Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain’s shot had been saved.

The Doncaster Rovers recruit also struck the inside of the post with a ferocious effort from long range as Pompey ran out 5-0 winners.

Pompey: Crowe, Talbot (Sessegnon, 74min), Whatmough (Bradbury, 85min), Burgess (Barton, 78min), Stevens (Haunstrup, 76min), Rose (Widdrington, 74min), Doyle (Bedford, 74min), Baker (Oxlade-Chamberlain, 71min), Roberts (Main, 69min), Lalkovic (Tollitt, 60min), Chaplin (Hunt, 57min). Sub not used: Bass