LOWE TO CARRY ON SHINING
Jamal Lowe endured a difficult middle of the season.
After making an explosive start, with doubles against Fleetwood and Fulham under-21s, the former Hampton & Richmond talent’s form hit peaks and troughs as the campaign wore on.
He managed just a solitary goal in 30 appearances and didn’t offer the same attacking threat as previously – especially when deployed in a left-wing role.
Nevertheless, Lowe seems to have got all of his verve back judging by his past two performances.
The 23-year-old is at his zenith when he functions on the right flank – the position Kenny Jackett believes Lowe is at most effective.
His powerful drive yielded Gareth Evans’ goal in the defeat at Southend and he delivered a number of ferocious crosses that flashed across the box in the second half.
Lowe continued his impressive form in the midweek win at Fleetwood.
He crashed in a brilliant opener with his left foot after driving into the box from the right, while his cross from the byline, which was parried by the Cody Army keeper, left Oli Hawkins with a tap-in.
If the former non-league winger keeps on continuing to deliver flying displays, then Pompey’s play-off hopes should stay alive.
In the injury absences of Brett Pitman and Gareth Evans, and with Nathan Thompson suspended, Matt Clarke donned the captain’s armband at Fleetwood.
Given how youthful the Pompey side was at Highbury Stadium, the natural choice for many would have been Christian Burgess.
The former Peterborough man was many fans’ choice to take over the captaincy in the summer after Michael Doyle’s departure.
Nevertheless, Kenny Jackett selected a skipper at Fleetwood who, despite being 21, is a player many of his team-mates can look up to.
Clarke has continued his hurtling progression this season, which has led to him being linked to a move to the Premier League.
Nevertheless, that will likely come if Clarke is given a run of games with the armband.
His impressive performances are already something his young team-mates can aspire towards.
And the more he captains the side, the more he’ll feel obliged to dictate orders and motivate his team.
A FIRST HOME WIN OF 2018?
Not many could have expected Pompey’s home form to have jettisoned so rapidly before the new year.
Fortress Fratton was virtually unbreachable. The Blues’ 3-1 win over Northampton on December 30 was their sixth straight victory on their own patch.
Nevertheless, Kenny Jackett’s side have yet to clinch three points at PO4 in 2018.
They’ve recorded draws against Doncaster and Scunthorpe and have been beaten by Shrewsbury and Blackburn.
If Pompey want to clinch a play-off berth, making Fratton Park a place where teams again fear visiting will be imperative.
Blackpool’s trip to the south coat gives the Blues the opportunity for a platform to build on.
In terms of league position, they’ll be lowest-placed side to visit Fratton Park this year and it’s a chance to get back to winning ways on their own turf.