Oldham 0 Pompey 2: The Final Verdict

Brett Pitman was among the goals at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman was among the goals at Oldham. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey writer Jordan Cross assesses the big talking points from Saturday’s 2-0 win at Boundary Park.

A Justified Decision

It was a big call for Kenny Jackett.

But the decision to axe Christian Burgess for the first time since he became Pompey manager proved entirely justified.

Burgess was taken out of the starting XI as the Blues returned to a back four in the snow at Oldham.

The 26-year-old saw Jackett make the call to partner fit-again Jack Whatmough in his place alongside Matt Clarke, after some indifferent form in recent weeks.

The outcome was Pompey’s first clean sheet in 16 games in what proved to be some very testing conditions for defenders.

Whatmough’s display on his second start in succession proved to be one of the big plus points in a much-needed morale-boosting success.

Not that there was anything particularly cultured about the Gosport lad’s performance, but the no-nonsense approach was exactly what was needed.

Another big plus point about the clean sheet was it arriving against one of the most dangerous strike partnerships in the division.

Eoin Doyle and Craig Davies have 29 goals between them with Richie Wellens sending on Duckens Nazon and Aaron Holloway as reinforcements.

But the quartet were made to feed on scraps by a Pompey back line in resilient mood.

Potent Pitman

He’s proved to be Pompey’s main supply of goals this season.

But there’s been a noticeable amount of griping from supporters over Brett Pitman’s form of late.

A barren period took him nine league games without a goal before bagging against Doncaster last month.

That was followed by three games on the sidelines after being forced off with a hamstring issue at Southend.

Pitman was back to his very best at Boundary Park, though, as he showcased the potency and cutting edge he offers when he’s on his game.

His goals highlighted the attributes he offers Kenny Jackett’s side in typical fashion.

There was so much to admire from his 29th-minute header which goes down as one of the finishes of the weekend.

The odds were against the 30-year-old as he leaped early to meet Connor Ronan’s cross, taking Oldham defender Brian Wilson out of the game in the process.

His connection was deft and delicate as he glanced his header over and beyond Johny Placide’s dive.

The keeper’s penchant for dallying on the ball had been highlighted before the game and was seized upon for the second, as the skipper intercepted his pass and stuck the ball beyond the Haiti international at the second attempt.

Pitman in this kind of form is one of the most dangerous players in the division.

Baltic Blues

The scenes at Boundary Park were unprecedented for many Pompey supporters.

Few of the 767 travelling fans had seen their team play in anything like the blizzard they faced at Oldham.

Pompey undoubtedly adapted to the spells of thick snow engulfing the stadium better than the home side - a fact acknowledged by Latics boss Richie Wellens after the game.

The fancy stuff was eschewed in favour of no-nonsense defending and an often direct approach to get in behind the home side’s defence.

Credit has to go to referee Seb Stockbridge, too, who came under intense pressure from Oldham to call the game off after the break with their side two goals down.

A nine-minute stoppage saw comical scenes played with the groundsman’s equipment to clear the snow from the pitch mysteriously absent, before he displayed a clear reticence to put his spade to work.

There was no obvious danger to the players, however, with Pompey facing much more worrying and dangerous conditions in the rain at Blackburn in October.

Wellens’ point about poor visibility melted away as the sunshine returned after the stoppage, with the game correctly being seen to a conclusion.