Portsmouth look ready for next level – although Championship is a different entity 

Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler
Jamal Lowe. Picture: Joe Pepler
0
Have your say

Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the main talking points from Pompey’s 1-0 victory at Norwich in the FA Cup third round...

READY FOR THE NEXT LEVEL

Matt Clarke goes on one of his forays against Norwich. Picture: Joe Pepler

Matt Clarke goes on one of his forays against Norwich. Picture: Joe Pepler

Out of Pompey’s starting line-up at Carrow Road, only four players had featured in the Championship previously.

And, in truth, only Brett Pitman and Tom Naylor seriously know what it takes to cut it in the second tier.

Matt Clarke and Ben Thompson have made just seven appearances between them at the higher level in their respective careers. 

Even despite Norwich boss Daniel Farke ringing the changes, his side was still filled with names who have proven themselves in the division.

Striker Jordan Rhodes has been an assassin in front of goal in the Championship throughout his career – but he was nullified with ease. 

It was a test that the Blues certainly stood up to and revelled in.

From Craig MacGillivray exemplifying his usual astuteness in goal to Jamal Lowe and Ronan Curtis providing potent threats on each flank – Kenny Jackett has a core of players who look capable of operating in the second tier if Pompey continue their trajectory out of League One.

Matt Clarke and Jack Whatmough were both impregnable, with the former still having the confidence to go on his trademark forays forward from the back. He didn’t lose possession, either. 

Anton Walkes and the returning Dion Donohue also delivered eye-catching displays at full-back.

So if there were any fears Jackett would have to bring in a high volume of new faces in the summer if the Blues clinch promotion this term, then surely they can be allayed. 

DIFFERENT GRADE

With that being said, if Pompey are to go up, they’ll be entering a completely different entity next term.

What was glaring about the way Norwich played was their composure on the ball and how fluid their moves flowed. 

Despite being down to 10 men following Grant Hanley’s 15th-minute dismissal, there were few occasions when the Blues noticeably had a numerical advantage. 

In fact, it was the Canaries who had the better of the possession, with the visitors forced to remain patient and wait for an opportunity to counter-attack. 

Playing out from the back never daunted Norwich, even coming under pressure from a swarm of pressing white shirts. 

And although they had a man fewer, full-backs Felix Passlack and Ben Godfrey continued to press high up the pitch and get involved in attacks.

Of course, not all Championship sides roll out similar tactics as Daniel Farke.

But it was abundantly clear that the top sides in the second tier have the mantra to get the ball on the floor and look to cut their way through opponents.

GREEN MACHINE

As Andre Green readied himself to enter the fray, he'd have been dreaming of another FA Cup match-winner.

The Aston Villa loanee sent Pompey into the third round by snatching a late goal at Rochdale in the previous stage of the competition. 

And Green again cropped up with another strike at the death to send the Blues through.

Dion Donohue’s ball to pick out the winger was sublime – the raking cross-field pass pinpointed his team-mate to perfection.

And when Green charged into the penalty area, you always fancied him to go on and bury the ball into the back of the net.

Granted, the 20-year-old needed a second bite at the cherry. But he displayed excellent composure to stab his shot into the right-hand corner – sending Pompey and the Fratton faithful into raptures. 

It’s a luxury for Kenny Jackett to have a player the calibre of Green on the bench.

After replacing Gareth Evans, the England under-20 international buzzed around in the number-10 role.

He got himself into pockets of space that conjured up a number of chances for the away side.

Having been limited mainly to substitute appearances at Fratton Park, Green will surely be thinking now is his time to nail down a starting spot.

And playing in the hole behind the striker looks a viable option as well as out wide.