Portsmouth in seventh heaven while big decisions making no difference to results

Sports writer Will Rooney assesses the talking points from Pompey’s 2-0 win over Walsall...

SEVENTH HEAVEN

Oli Hawkins  celebrates his seventh goal of the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

Oli Hawkins celebrates his seventh goal of the season. Picture: Joe Pepler

With the way things are going, Pompey’s golden boot will be perched on a different mantelpiece come May.

But the race for the accolade is still finely poised.

Brett Pitman is looking likely to relinquish the prize he clinched so emphatically with 25 goals last season. 

The skipper has netted four times this term – a decent total considering the amount he has featured. 

Pitman is becoming more and more a bit-part player as the campaign wears on, however, after being an unused substitute in the Blues’ past three League One games.

Meanwhile, Ronan Curtis, Oli Hawkins, Gareth Evans and Jamal Lowe continue to pull away and are engaged in a four-way battle for the crown.

Evans’ strike against Scunthorpe on Saturday ensured he joined Lowe at the top of the scoring charts on seven.

But Hawkins and Curtis refused to lose any ground, with their efforts against Walsall moving them level with their team-mates.

The former tucked home a smart first-half header in the 25th minute, while Curtis doubled Kenny Jackett’s side’s lead four minutes into the second period with a decent finish on the swivel. 

The quartet all look set to hit double figures this term.

But who finishes as top scorer could well be decided by potential injuries, suspensions and international call-ups.

RARELY TROUBLED

Walsall likely arrived at Fratton Park buoyed they could put the brakes on Pompey’s title charge.

Three days beforehand, Dean Keates' men did the Blues a favour by holding second-placed Sunderland to a 2-2 draw.

And earlier this season, the Saddlers also grabbed a point off promotion-chasing Barnsley at Oakwell.

But, in truth, they hardly troubled Pompey’s rearguard at Fratton Park.

The visitors conjured up just one golden opportunity when Josh Ginnelly missed the target two minutes into the second half.

Craig MacGillivray had a quiet evening in goal, only called into action to astutely claim several crosses. 

Jack Whatmough and Matt Clarke’s outstanding central-defensive partnership continues to flourish. The former, in particular, made a number of outstanding blocks to blunt any danger in the first half.

Luke Leahy created few chances for Walsall, despite being one of his side’s main attacking outlets. That’s because Nathan Thompson nullified the left-back’s threat. 

On the opposite wing, Lee Brown also delivered another rock-solid performance.

Pompey’s clean sheet against Walsall was their 10th of the campaign and doubling that tally looks a realistic target. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

NO PENALTY, NO WORRIES

For a second successive game, Pompey felt weren’t awarded a penalty when one was deserved.

At Scunthorpe on Saturday, Oli Hawkins was bundled over inside the box, yet the referee refused to point to the spot.

It was Gareth Evans who was fouled in the area against Walsall, nudged in the back by Nicky Devlin when he was about to pull the trigger in the 17th minute. 

However, again the official waved play on – much to the frustration of the skipper and the Fratton faithful. 

It’ll certainly be irritating for Kenny Jackett that potentially key decisions aren’t going the way of his side.

The Blues boss isn’t one to bemoan referees’ performances, though.

Jackett insists it’s up to his side to create their own luck by taking their chances and defending well enough to ensure those decisions don’t have an impact on results.

That’s something that has happened in Pompey’s past two games, which will delight him.