Ronan: Kal’s crowing about vital Pompey save

Kal Naismith went in goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith went in goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Sol Campbell on his return to Fratton Park in December. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey’s unlikely goalkeeping hero came to the rescue to secure a Fratton Park point against Doncaster.

And according to Connor Ronan, Kal Naismith couldn’t resist reminding the Blues’ dressing room of his key contribution.

That’s the first thing that came into my mind when the keeper went down – who would it be?

Connor Ronan

With debutant Stephen Henderson forced off the field through injury on 85 minutes, Kenny Jackett required a replacement keeper.

However, his three allotted substitutions had already been used, meaning Luke McGee remained on the bench.

So up stepped Naismith, a 72nd-minute substitute for Matty Kennedy, to take over from the Forest loanee.

It was the first time since February 1999 that Pompey had fielded a non-goalkeeper, on that occasion Russell Perrett replacing the injured Aaron Flahavan against Swindon.

And Naismith responded to his challenge by producing a save with his legs from Ben Whiteman during seven minutes of time added on.

Ronan said: ‘Kal didn’t stop going on about that save he made, but fair play to him.

‘He wanted to go in goal and stepped up and made a decent save to keep us in it. It takes a lot of guts for somebody to put their hand up and go into nets.

‘That’s the first thing that came into my mind when the keeper went down – who would it be?

‘If it was serious we didn’t have any more subs left. I definitely wasn’t going to go in, one of the taller lads maybe.

‘But you have to balance it. Perhaps you can’t put a defender in goal because you need to stabilise the defence, it has to be the right player at the right time and organise the team to try to go on and win the game.

‘I think it fitted well with Kal going in – and he did well.’

Pompey fell behind on four minutes to James Coppinger, before Anton Walkes netted on his debut.

John Marquis restored Rovers’ lead, only for substitute Brett Pitman to level.

Then came the Henderson injury, with the Blues reduced to nine man in stoppage time after Christian Burgess received a second yellow.

But they held on.

Ronan added: When Burge went off we had nine men and it was non-stop pressure, but we held on for life.

‘The fans were getting behind us so much when we were down to nine men, we were holding on, but they kept us going and we did it.

‘I think if we’d finished the game with 11 men and got the point then maybe we would have been a bit disappointed by the way we played – but considering how the game went it’s a good point.’

– NEIL ALLEN