Swindon 0 Pompey 2 – Neil Allen’s match report

Oli Hawkins & Co did well at Swindon. Picture: Joe Pepler
Oli Hawkins & Co did well at Swindon. Picture: Joe Pepler
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In a fortnight dominated by Pompey’s striking saga, it was a forgotten contender who strode forward.

Uncertainty over Conor Chaplin’s future and the ongoing pursuit of Mo Eisa has occupied attention, albeit perhaps for far too long.

Nonetheless, there remain other goal-scoring options within the Blues’ ranks – as Oli Hawkins demonstrated on Saturday.

Kenny Jackett opted to hand the former Dagenham & Redbridge man a maiden pre-season start for the trip to League Two Swindon.

In the process, he dropped Brett Pitman to the bench and elected to introduce the in-demand Chaplin in the role operating behind.

Hawkins responded with his first Pompey goal at any level since February’s 2-1 league victory at Fleetwood.

Admittedly, there were other chances spurned by the towering striker, yet his powerful headed finish from Jamal Lowe’s right-wing cross represented a timely reminder.

That 58th minute opener set Jackett’s men on their way to a 2-0 success at the County Ground in a solid team display.

It was Lowe – celebrating his 24th birthday – who completed the scoreline on 72 minutes, converting Chaplin’s left-wing pass.

Chaplin had previously scored four goals in three matches during pre-season, yet on this occasion was a provider having been given a starting opportunity.

Both the 21-year-old and Hawkins were presented with the full 90 minutes to audition for regular first-team involvement, with the prolific Pitman remaining on the bench.

Certainly they can be pleased with their contributions, particularly Hawkins as he delivered a perfectly-placed memo of what he can offer.

At the other end, the visitors defended with heart and commitment, hurling themselves in front of shots to preserve the clean sheet.

Swindon’s best chance arrived on seven minutes when Kyle Knoyle’s cross was met by the head of Ellis Iandolo, with Craig MacGillivray throwing himself to the left to keep it out.

Otherwise the hosts, impressively skippered by former Fratton favourite Matt Taylor, could find no way past.

And for Hawkins, he will be hoping for his own Pompey breakthrough.

Pompey: MacGillivray, Thompson, Clarke, Whatmough, Brown, Walkes (46mins Rose), Naylor, Lowe, Curtis, Hawkins, Chaplin.

Subs Not Used: McGee, Haunstrup, Pitman, Dennis, Smith, May, Casey, Burgess, Evans