Checkatrade Trophy win against Sunderland will prove crucial if Portsmouth make play-off Wembley return – Kenny Jackett
Kenny Jackett pinpointed Pompey’s Wembley experience as potentially pivotal should fate dictate a play-off final return.
The Blues boss yesterday masterminded Checkatrade Trophy glory over Sunderland.
Victory was secured through a 5-4 penalty success, after the clash with the Black Cats finished deadlocked at 2-2 following extra-time.
Oli Hawkins was the hero, netting the decisive fifth spot-kick to defeat Pompey’s League One promotion rivals.
The sides could well meet in the play-off final should they fall short in pursuit of second-placed Barnsely.
And should that arise, Jackett believes yesterday’s outcome could be decisive.
He said: ‘Yesterday was a one-off and I do believe if there is another game in a couple of months that will be a separate day.
‘Similarly, the vast majority of my players haven’t played here and haven’t played in games of this magnitude.
‘So whether any play-off final is against Sunderland or anybody else, yesterday can only do them good. They found a way to win and put on a good performance.
‘I think it can prove important. If you are looking at our players, we have quite a number that have never even been to Wemble, let alone played there.
‘A couple of the lads, no disrespect to Omar Bogle and Lee Brown, but their experience of playing at Wembley has been in a Conference play-off final, not on a day like yesterday.
‘Then there’s the likes of Ronan Curtis, his first year over here after coming from the Irish league. It’s a good step up for everybody and a big team effort.
‘A fantastic day for us and something we hope by being involved in we can learn from and build confidence in a group that are pretty hungry.
‘In terms of the big games and higher divisions, we are quite inexperienced, but that is good, we have a lot of people that want to make their name.
‘Out of the starting XI, Pitman and Naylor are the two that have played in the Championship before, after that the Championship appearances are few and far between.
‘This is quite a new group - but hopefully something we can build on.’
Now attention turns to the League One promotion hunt.
Sunderland travel to Accrington on Wednesday evening for one of their two games in hand on Pompey.
As for the Blues, they visit out-of-sorts Wycombe on Saturday.
Jackett added: ‘We have always said that getting promoted is our priority, similarly we had a good FA Cup run.
‘But that’s eight games in the Checkatrade Trophy this season, resulting in a fantastic day for us and those scenes among the fans at the end.‘Hopefully one we can use it positively going forward towards what we would all consider to be the big prize - which is progression in the league.’