John M̶a̶r̶q̶u̶i̶s Milton building goalscoring momentum as Portsmouth favourite makes dominant return against Scunthorpe
Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the talking points from Pompey's 2-1 EFL Trophy quarter-final win over Scunthorpe...
John M̶a̶r̶q̶u̶i̶s Milton gaining momentum
It was a finish of quality and composure.
John Marquis did superbly to kill Ryan Williams' cross-cum-shot before manoeuvring himself space inside the six-yard box to apply the finish and open the scoring for Pompey.
It took the striker’s tally to nine for the season – not a bad return considering he's not only been in and out of the starting line-up but had to adapt to the number-10 position.
But what still evades Marquis is a maiden goal in front of the Fratton End.
Of his nine strikes this campaign, four have arrived on home turf. Yet each of them came at the Milton End.
Even his two finishes when playing for Doncaster at PO4 were also at the opposite end of the famous stand.
It won’t be something the marksman is dwelling on too much, although it’s something he was aware of when signing in the summer.
Most importantly, however, is that the ex-Millwall man has started to build impetus he’d have liked to have openedhis Blues career with. He's bagged four times in his past five games now, with his latest effort the best of the lot.
That’ll give him plenty of confidence as he waits patiently for that elusive Fratton End goal.
A dominant return
With time on the ball, Jack Whatmough got his head up to pick out a sumptuous pass.
A raking cross-field ball found Brandon Haunstrup in all sorts of space, which rightly receiving warm round of applause from the crowd.
After 20 minutes, it was abundantly clear the Gosport lad was back like he’d never endured almost a year on the sidelines.
The feeling for Whatmough to complete 90 minutes was immense, the final box of his rehabilitation ticked.
Yes, he's been here before and yes, he’s recovered back to full fitness. But after his latest serious knee injury, there’s always that tiny bit of doubt that may creep in during the long road to recovery.
That was emphatically put paid to, however, with the centre-back getting the all clear from Pompey's medical team when inspecting his knee at full-time.
If Whatmough can stay fit for the remainder of the campaign, he gives the Blues’ promotion push an almighty fillip.
He's a Rolls Royce of a centre-half at this level – an area of the pitch that has come under scrutiny at times..
A massive opportunity
The calendars are being scanned, the holiday request forms as a precaution for a hungover Monday being filled in at work.
Not that fans need reminding, but Pompey are just one win away from returning to Wembley.
Last season provided a marvellous afternoon in the capital for the Fratton faithful.
Although the EFL Trophy is maligned by most, the final was still embraced by more than 40,000 Blues supporters who made the trip to the national stadium in their droves.
The fact the Blues met League One heavyweights Sunderland added to the occasion, with the game having more of a play-off final feeling to it.
Unfortunately, there’s no-one of the Black Cats’ ilk remaining in the competition that'd create a similar febrile atmosphere around Wembley Way.
And let's not forget Pompey still have to win their semi-final against either League Two high-flyers Exeter, big-spenders Salford, last season’s beaten play-off finalists Newport or Leicester under-21s.
The three remaining fourth-tier sides are all above Scunthorpe in the table and the Blues made hard work of their last-eight tie – which means reaching Wembley is no guarantee.
Nevertheless, Pompey aren’t going to have many better opportunities of reaching the national stadium in the near future.