A Portsmouth career rejuevenated and clues to where move for Millwall's Ben Thompson now lies - what we learned from Carabao Cup clash
There was plenty to learn and see on and off the pitch from Pompey’s Carabao Cup clash at Millwall – here are the key take-homes from what took place at The Den.
Winger shows he can Hackett
It’s been a long time coming for Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.
In fact it’s been a whopping 20 months between league starts for the winger, after he arrived at Fratton Park from Bromley in January 2020.
Hackett-Fairchild was quickly given his debut at Walsall in the EFL Trophy, after being brought to the club by Kenny Jackett.
But the 23-year-old never felt close to the first team after that point, returning to his non-league side last term before an ill-fated loan stint with Southend as they were relegated to the National League.
So, hardly a recent CV which offered the Londoner much hope as he entered the final year of his existing deal.
Hackett-Fairchild has come back to PO4, got his head down in pre-season and managed to impress Danny Cowley, however.
After his performance at Millwall, the praise was fulsome from his manager branding his showing ‘Championship quality’.
There were plenty of examples of Hackett-Fairchild’s desire to engage opponents and put them on the back foot.
And it seems, after so long out in the cold, he may now have given himself a hope of being involved at Fratton Park this season.
Will Pompey 'sign him up?'
Ben Thompson had been presented with a dilemma as he warmed up at The Den.
How could the midfielder not knock Millwall noses out of joint, as 2,000 Pompey fans saluted a man they would dearly cherish back in their ranks again.
It was amusing to see the 25-year-old sheepishly raise a hand in acknowledgement of the calls to ‘sign him up’ from the away end.
Those fans are in no doubt about what they now want over the remainder of the transfer window.
The key issue, however, is does Danny Cowley agree?
After winning the race for his prime midfield summer target in Joe Morrell, the Blues head coach has to decide where he now focusses his attention over the remainder of the transfer window.
In terms of the middle of the park, Shaun Williams and Ryan Tunnicliffe were in the building at the start of the week, with Morrell arriving on Monday night before a deal for Louis Thompson was agreed.
With Cowley confirming in his post-match press conference Jay Mingi is still around, an agreement with the former Charlton and West Ham man would make him a fifth option in the middle of the park.
Michael Jacobs appears to be staying, lessening the need for a wide man unless Ronan Curtis departs.
With Ellis Harrison seemingly on the way, it appears it’s up front that may come under focus for remaining squad surgery.
And it could well be the need to look away from that midfield area, which puts to bed the notion of any further Pompey love-ins with Thompson in the immediate future.
Lower the heat on Gass
After the pre-season excitement, the first two games of the season have offered clear insight into the reasons for the calls to reign in expectations over Gassan Ahadme.
Eight goals in four games had raised hopes about the Morroccan shouldering the burden of being a regular supply of League One strikes this season.
Danny Cowley had been at pains to stress the 20-year-old is a work in progress, as Blues fans moved to check the odds on him winning the League One golden boot this season.
And a difficult first couple of outings have clearly underlined the case.
Ahadme got 68 minutes under his belt at Fleetwood on Saturday, and, as his team were under the cosh in the first half failed to influence.
There was one clear chance which Alex Cairns did well to save before his 68th-minute withdrawal.
At Millwall the shortfall was more stark, however, with the second striker looking like a boy among men.
It’s worth remembering the Lions are a powerful second-tier side, the kind Ahadme will not face every week this term.
But there were signs of a lack of concentration and lapses in movement, which allowed the home side to get their game flowing and set about Pompey.
There’s a confidence to the Norwich loanee’s game and finishing still, however, as shown with one seventh-minute drive just past the post.
Cowley believes there’s plenty to come from Ahadme, just the bar needs to be lowered a little. Those first two games have clearly shown why.
Raggs takes on Lions' power
You won’t find many more powerful sides than Millwall.
Gary Rowett’s side were stacked with players not just about 6ft last night - but well above 6ft.
Yet, Sean Raggett once more stood up to the physical challenge posed by the Championship side, as he delivered another forceful showing.
It’s been two man-of-the-match performances from two from the 27-year-old, as he continues to impressively put his body on the line for the Pompey cause.
Pompey will not be happy with the manner in which they conceded two goals in six minutes after taking the lead.
But Raggett was not culpable, and was in fact unlucky not to prevent the second with a typically whole-hearted block before George Saville ghosted home his finish.
It’s been evident at the back as much as anywhere this season, Pompey are a work in progress.
In Raggett, however, they’ve had a stoic presence who’s shown he can be relied on.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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