Jackett highlights role of Pompey’s key man

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Kenny Jackett saluted the injection of potency into his side following Brett Pitman’s return.

The captain’s two-goal salvo made the difference at Oldham after three games on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

That took his tally for the season to 17 goals, as he struck with a classy 29th-minute header.

That was followed up with a smart piece of opportunism three minutes before the break, as Pitman won the ball from keeper Johny Placide’s pass and dispatched a finish past the Haitian international.

Jackett lauded the impact of his skipper.

He said: ‘It’s a great header.

Brett Pitman. Picture: Joe Pepler

Brett Pitman. Picture: Joe Pepler

‘I didn’t necessarily think he was favourite, but we’ve seen him do that many times this season.

‘The second one was opportunist, but he made it look simple.

‘We knew that was something we might be able to take advantage of with the keeper. We’ve seen that before.

‘Brett was used in a slightly different role.

‘He was a bit further forward.

‘For him, he needs to be in the box when those crosses go in.

‘Playing 4-3-3 as we did, we did have the opportunity with two good left footers in Haunstrup and Naismith, and similarly with Walkes down the right, to get a lot of good balls into the box.

‘We supported him very well with Lowe, Naismith and particularly Connor Ronan. That helped us to get a foothold in the game.

‘We need to get our players back and try to finish strongly.’

The blizzard conditions proved the big talking point from the game, with referee Seb Stockbridge stopping the game for nine minutes in the second half.

With Oldham applying pressure to call the game off, Jackett was sure the game was in doubt.

The Pompey boss said: ‘I think what threw the referee was he couldn’t see the lines.

‘That was why he stopped the game and wanted it cleared.

‘There wasn’t anyone around or the equipment to clear the lines and make it visible.

‘In that time, though, things cleared up, the snow stopped and made it playable again.

‘So the break helped us get over the worst of the weather and we were able to see out the game.

‘I think the groundsman didn’t want to ruin his pitch, but you couldn’t help thinking the scoreline contributed to their viewpoint. They were trying to get the game off.

‘In those few minutes before the game stopped the conditions were unbelievable, no doubt about it.

‘It wasn’t the surface but the visibility of the lines.

‘It looked tough for a couple of minutes but we got the game played.’

Jackett was delighted to see Pompey pick up a win after four losses in five, along with a much-needed clean sheet.

He added: ‘It was a great win.

‘December 16 was the last clean sheet for us which was very poor.

‘If you keep giving soft goals away it eats your confidence away. That’s been the case too many times.

‘In November and December we were hard to score against and break down.

‘That’s been lacking since the turn of the year.’