What we learnt from Pompey’s win at Blackpool

Pompey captain Brett Pitman scored twice in the Blues' 3-2 win at Blackpool Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey captain Brett Pitman scored twice in the Blues' 3-2 win at Blackpool Picture: Joe Pepler
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Will Rooney looks back on Pompey’s win at Blackpool and assesses the main talking points...

Pitman’s back with a bang

Prior to kick off at Bloomfield Road, Brett Pitman was suffering from his longest Pompey spell without a goal since his summer switch from Ipswich.

The forward had not hit the back of the net in his past three outings, after returning from injury at Blackburn last month.

Nevertheless, Pitman got back to what he does best against Blackpool and inspired the Blues to a welcome victory.

To rub salt into the wound of the hosts, it was against the side he snubbed in 2010 after the Tangerines agreed a fee with Bournemouth for his services.

The 29-year-old might not get two easier finishes this season than he did against Gary Bowyer’s troops.

Pitman’s opener on 52 minutes was a straightforward close-range strike, while his winner was laid on a plate for him by Christian Burgess’ towering header four minutes from time.

Yet the former Cherries striker’s goalscoring nous and spatial awareness have to be lauded, despite the simplicity of his goals.

He instinctively gambles on where the ball might land if it bounces free, and ensures he’s the first to react to anything that drops within his surroundings.

Pitman upped his tally to 11 league goals for the season.

He’s the second top goalscorer in League One and the 20-goal mark – often the barometer of a memorable season for a striker – looks inevitable.

Experience pays dividends

All season long, certain sections of the Fratton faithful have been begging for some remaining members of Pompey’s League Two title-winning side to be given their chance this season.

Gareth Evans, Danny Rose and Kal Naismith have found themselves on the periphery of things since Kenny Jackett’s appointment as boss in June.

But all three got their chance to prove themselves at Blackpool – and all gave the manager plenty to ponder.

The suspensions of Nathan Thompson and Stuart O’Keefe prompted Evans and Rose’s returns to the Blues’ starting line-up in League One, after Tuesday’s Checkatrade Trophy win at Charlton.

Meanwhile, striker Oli Hawkins dropped back into the defence, which saw Naismith keep his spot in his favoured No10 role after catching the eye at The Valley.

All three did themselves absolutely no harm in terms of selection.

In fact, it did prompt the question – why they haven’t feature more this term, particularly on the road?

Rose was so calm and collected on the ball in centre midfield, while Naismith’s work-rate was immense.

And Evans’ blistering pace and hunger to not just keep the ball in play, but deliver a sumptuous cross that eventually led to Ben Close’s maiden Pompey goal portrayed all of his qualities.

The trio have certainly given their manager food for thought and intensified the competition for places at Fratton Park.

Sympathy for versatile Hawkins

You had to sympathise with Oli Hawkins against the Tangerines.

After an otherwise impressive performance at centre-back, the 25-year-old front man inadvertently headed Jimmy Ryan’s free-kick into his own net in the 83rd minute.

One can only imagine how gutted Hawkins felt at the time, with his unintended intervention looking like it had cost Pompey two vital points.

So when he saw Brett Pitman nod home his dramatic winner minutes later, he must have felt a huge sense of relief.

Nevertheless, even if the game had ended in a draw, Hawkins could still have held his head high.

Purchased from Dagenham & Redbridge as a striker, he once more filled in more than adeptly in the centre of defence.

Hawkins made a key interception in the 20th minute to deny Danny Philliskirk a tap-in from Viv Solomon-Otobar’s cross, as well as winning everything that came his way aerially.

He will no doubt want to resume his striking role as soon as possible.

However, with Matt Clarke utilised in a left-back role at Bloomfield Road, Hawkins could feature more frequently in the rearguard before Kenny Jackett can strengthen in January.