Hawks 1 Portsmouth 2: Neil Allen's verdict - Jamal Lowe's golden halo dulled in messy finale to Blues career

On the 10th anniversary of Eugen Bopp barging his way into Pompey consciousness, Jamal Lowe could well have diminished his own presence in Fratton folklore.

Sunday, 14th July 2019, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 15th July 2019, 8:56 pm
Ellis Harrison rises highest during Saturday's 2-1 victory at the Hawks. Picture: Dave Haines/Portsmouth News

Bopp, of course, materialised a decade ago during a pre-season friendly against the Hawks, netting twice in a 2-2 draw.

A former Nottingham Forest companion of then-Blues manager Paul Hart, the midfielder remained for almost the entire season, yet never playing a competitive match.

A curious entry in the annals of Pompey history – as is the Lowe episode which unfolded on Saturday.

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Kenny Jackett’s side produced a lacklustre and largely unconvincing display in a 2-1 victory, a scoreline secured late on through substitute Brett Pitman.

However, the occasion was overshadowed by the non-appearance of last season’s leading scorer.

Lowe is agitating for a move to the Championship, with Wigan the likely destination, unless there is a late entrant to the summer transfer saga.

Regardless, he was named in the starting XI at Westleigh Park for Pompey’s second friendly of the pre-season.

More than an hour later, his name was pulled, with Gareth Evans ushered from the bench to take his right-wing spot and handed the captain’s armband.

According to Jackett, the confusion stemmed from an unfortunate team sheet error, with the Wigan target actually having been granted a weekend ‘breather’.

Such reasoning all felt rather convoluted, certainly unconvincingly rolled out to justify the noticeable absence of a player unsettled at Fratton Park.

Regardless, if Saturday provided the final act of a pivotal player in Pompey’s modern achievements, it has significantly dulled the golden halo.

Chiselling on his brave face, Jackett admirably stood by Lowe, claiming the player was not AWOL, unquestionably fighting back his own frustration with the summer-long saga.

Truth or not, many of the Fratton faithful won’t have been persuaded by the seemingly far-fetched nature of these latest developments.

The former Hampton & Richmond player wasn’t the sole absentee handed permission to miss the Hawks encounter, loanee Ross McCrorie had been allowed to return to Glasgow to tie up loose ends.

If this indeed is the beginning of life after Lowe, how the Blues missed his talented presence at Westleigh Park.

Jackett’s men finally broke the deadlock in the 44th minute, Evans dispatching a penalty after Dean Beckwith had tangled with Ellis Harrison inside the box.

On 56 minutes, the scores were level, emanating from what Pompey claimed to be a foul on Tom Naylor by Chris Paul.

The Blues midfielder was dispossessed approaching the halfway line and, in the breakaway, Roarie Deacon was fed the opportunity for an angled finish.

Jackett's men barely suggested they could snatch a winner, but it arrived 10 minutes from time.

Brandon Haunstrup pulled the ball back from the byline and fellow substitute Pitman netted with a first-time left-footed shot.

Victory for Pompey, yet Jamal Lowe developments ensured little to cheer about.

Pompey: MacGillivray, Walkes (73 mins Burgess), Downing, Raggett, Brown (70 mins Haunstrup), Naylor (70 mins Morris), Close, Evans (84 mins Hancott), Dennis (70 mins Pitman), Curtis (70 mins Cannon), Harrison.

Subs Not Used: Bass, Casey, Mnoga, Dandy, Teggart, Bridgman, Stanley.

Attendance; 3,500