Jordan Cross looks back on Saturday’s 2-0 win against Rochdale and analyses the main talking points...
Harry Redknapp has the market cornered when it comes to shock Pompey comebacks.
But Drew Talbot’s unlikely return to action managed to raise a fair few eyebrows at the start of a new Pompey era.
August 27 would have marked a year since the full-back last started a game in royal blue on a Saturday.
That was the 1-0 league win at Exeter last term, while the unglamorous Checkatrade Trophy provided the 31-year-old’s last outing against Bristol Rovers nine months ago.
It’s been a hellish period for the low-maintenance lad from Barnsley, with no reason offered by Paul Cook for his lack of playing time.
Talbot was told to get his head down and graft by new manager Kenny Jackett, a demand he’s responded to.
That meant the manager had no hesitation turning to the defender as Milan Lalkovic’s mid-week ankle injury forced a selection reshuffle.
It was Lalkovic who was in line to start, until Gareth Evans was shifted forward and Talbot given the nod.
The result was a solid, dependable display, with the former Chesterfield man shifted to left-back – a position he’s comfortable in – after Tareiq Holmes-Dennis hobbled off.
After getting his foot in the door, Talbot doesn’t want a rest at Cardiff tomorrow. After his time in the wilderness, who can blame him?
There’s been few surprises in Pompey’s pre-season team selection.
Jackett had largely opted for a settled formula in the build-up to the Rochdale opener.
And the central-defensive pairing offered one of the debates ahead of the game, with it appearing Tom Davies had his nose in front of Jack Whatmough.
It was the latter who was given the nod, however, with the Gosport lad rewarding Jackett’s decision with a fine display.
There’s been one or two murmurs about the 20-year-old’s physical condition across pre-season, but there was only evidence of a player who could comfortably handle the game’s pace.
On occasions, Whatmough rescued his fellow defenders with some crucially-timed interceptions and blocks.
It was a display which justified his inclusion.
Two chances – two goals.
Brett Pitman showcased to his new fans exactly what he’s all about on his Pompey bow.
And it was the striker who was dominating post-match conversations among the Fratton faithful, after his man-of-the-match competitive debut.
It was Rochdale boss, Keith Hill, who succinctly summed up the damage his side had done in presenting the striker with his sights of goal.
‘You can’t give Pitman those type of opportunities,’ Hill insisted.
If you do, you get to witness the finishes in front of the Fratton End which got the marquee summer signing’s goal account up and running.
Pitman explained his team are a work in progress after the game – but, like his debut, the early signs are promising.