While his opening goal in the League Two play-off semi-final first leg against Plymouth generated a spine-tingling Fratton Park roar still fondly recalled by supporters and players alike.
However, the Scottish striker’s career has dipped significantly since a July 2018 switch to Reading for a reported £1.2m.
And the 29-year-old is now without a club having been released following one goal and 17 appearances in four seasons at the Madejski Stadium.
McNulty plundered 28 goals, including two hat-tricks, for Coventry during the 2017-18 season as they won the League Two play-offs.
It was sparkling form which brought him to the attention of the Royals.
However, he fell out of favour after five months with the Championship club – and made just two further appearances after December 2018.
McNulty was subsequently loaned out to Hibernian (twice), Sunderland and Dundee United (twice) as his Reading days petered out.
Indeed, he would make 98 appearances and score 25 times away from the Madejski Stadium as he attempted to forge a career elsewhere.
Although this term’s loan at Dundee United yielded just three goals in 24 outings during an injury-hampered season which saw them finish fourth in the Scottish Premiership.
The startling decline is a far cry from a Pompey stay which saw the player nicknamed ‘Sparky’ establish himself as a fans’ favourite.
Having arrived from Sheffield United in November 2015 in Cook’s maiden Blues campaign, he formed a highly-effective double act with Caolan Lavery.
On McNulty’s second Pompey start, he bagged a magnificent 19-minute hat-trick in the 6-0 demolition of York at Fratton Park.
With Lavary returning to Sheffield Wednesday, Michael Smith was recruited on loan from Swindon to challenge the Scot for a starting spot for the remainder of the season.
However, the goals continued for McNulty and, with Smith ineligible for the play-offs, he lined-up against Plymouth in both legs.
Pompey, though, would be eliminated 3-2 on aggregate over two legs, with a heartbreaking last-gasp defeat at Home Park in May 2016 proving to be McNulty’s final outing
Overall, he netted 12 times in 34 appearances, finishing as leading scorer ahead of Conor Chaplin (11), Gareth Evans (10) and Gary Roberts (10).
Now McNulty is a free agent, seeking to reinvigorate a career which once promised so much more.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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