Louis Dennis shows his Portsmouth threat as new boys lead Burgess in race to start at Shrewsbury
Pompey writer Jordan Cross looks back at the pre-season warm-up at Hawks, looks at what we learnt and any clues from Kenny Jackett ahead of the new campaign.
When a 2-0 win is better than 11-0
Pompey’s 11-0 thrashing of League of Ireland side UCD may have looked impressive on paper, and had the stattos dusting off their reference books to see where it stood in the history of the club’s biggest wins.
But the victory in Ireland perhaps wasn’t so useful as a challenge and indicator of where Kenny Jackett’s stand in pre-season.
In a nip-and-tuck first half, the home side had their moments of pressure including a quick-fire succession of corners.
Jonah Ayunga’s 20-yard effort after the restart and Wes Fogden’s jinking run into the box also caught the eye.
So it’s no surprise to see the likes of Paul Downing and Sean Raggett reference the strength of the task they faced from the National League South side with appreciative words after the game.
Louis Dennis didn’t appear to have a foot out of the Pompey door a couple of months ago - it was both feet, his body and most of his personal belongings.
Everything strongly pointed to the arrival from Bromley last summer moving on after being left out in the cold for most of last term, including his own feelings.
But Dennis has shone bright in pre-season training and shown Kenny Jackett something which has clearly made him have second thoughts about the 26-year-old’s role within his squad
And for the second time in warm-up games supporters were given a glimpse of his potential against Hawks.
Against UCD last week he scored two and set a couple of goals up in a forthright 45-minute showing.
On Saturday, the rumoured Leyton Orient target was at the heart of much of Pompey’s creative work on the front foot.
New boys central to defence
Kenny Jackett has dropped enough hints his starting XI in pre-season games will be closer to what he believes is his strongest side.
So it appears new boys Sean Raggett and Paul Downing are the players currently at the head of the pecking order to begin the campaign in the middle of defence.
For the second game on the bounce now, Jackett has paired the summer recruits together from the outset.
They looked solid enough against Hawks with Raggett showing his threat from set-pieces on a couple of occasions.
It means Christian Burgess finds himself in the position of playing catch-up in the race to start at Shrewsbury on August 3.
It won’t be the first time one of the club’s stalwarts has found himself in such position, however, and recent history suggests you write Burgess off at your peril.