What we learnt from Pompey’s draw with Walsall

Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey midfielder Carl Baker Picture: Joe Pepler
Brandon Haunstrup in action against Bury. Picture: Joe Pepler

Local lad after Pompey starting role for keeps

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Will Rooney looks back on the Walsall draw and talks us through the main talking points...

JACKETT NOT AFRAID TO MAKE BIG DECISIONS

It was a bold decision from Kenny Jackett to leave Carl Baker out of his match-day squad.

After the summer departures of the likes of Michael Doyle and David Forde, the former MK Dons man is now the elder statesman in a youthful-looking Fratton Park first team.

Having played in League One for the majority of his career, Baker gives Jackett immense experience and know-how in the side’s current surroundings.

His maiden Pompey season yielded nine goals from the right wing and he played an instrumental part on the way to League Two glory.

And despite being linked with a move to Coventry, the manager has previously indicated Baker has a role to play.

But Jackett opted to go with Ben Close as his midfield back-up to starting duo Adam May and Danny Rose on Saturday, prefering the youngster to the 34-year-old.

Meanwhile, the boss also regarded Nicke Kabamba and Curtis Main as bigger threats off the bench.

It was a brave move by Jackett and it came as a shock to the majority.

After also giving the instruction for Gary Roberts to leave the club, it shows Pompey’s manager has every faith in his youthful side in League One.

UNPROFESSIONAL DECISION – BUT A SIGN BAKER STILL HAS HUNGER

Nobody likes to be left out of a starting XI – never mind the match-day squad.

So looking up and not seeing his name etched on to the team sheet is something Baker will have been seldom used to.

No doubt the 34-year-old was filled with emotion at the time he saw his omission from the squad to face Walsall.

And to see the likes of Ben Close and Curtis Main – players not in and around the team last season as the League Two title was secured – picked ahead of him would have hurt him deeply.

Subsequently, it led to Baker leaving Fratton Park and undertaking a gym session at Pompey’s Roko training base.

Was it an unprofessional thing to do? Undoubtedly from someone of his experience. He should have accepted it and sat in the stands with the rest of his team-mates not involved.

However, it portrays Baker still has a hunger and desire to feature for Pompey.

Amid rumours of a move to the Ricoh Stadium, he has fully co=operated with his manager and is still committed to the team.

Baker wants to make a success of himself at whichever club he is.

He desires to feature in every minute possible and be an asset to the team he represents

If he does remain on the south coast, Baker will be desperate to snatch his place back in the starting XI and prove the manager wrong.

KABAMBA WILL PLAY HIS PART

Since his move from Hampton & Richmond, Nicke Kabamba has been a fringe player at Fratton Park.

The striker made just four appearances in League Two and was an unused sub in Wednesday’s Checkatrade Trophy draw with Fulham.

However, manager Kenny Jackett sent Kabamba on against Walsall in an attempt to salvage a point as the Blues trailed the Saddlers following Luke Leahy’s 47th-minute opener.

The 24-year-old was given the nod over Conor Chaplin – a change which brought mixed reactions from the Fratton faithful.

Jackett clearly wanted a physical presence up top and Kabamba gave him exactly that.

He held the ball up well and brought Brett Pitman and Kyle Bennett into the game more frequently.

Christian Burgess’ long ball picked out the run of Kabamba in the 73rd minute.

The Londoner easily shook off the attempted challenge from Walsall defender James Wilson, before goalkeeper Mark Gillespie brought Kabamba down in the box.

Brett Pitman fired home the penalty to equalise.

It’s not pretty football, but Pompey will need to pick up ugly results at times this season – and Kabamba offers them the chance to do that.