A needless reminder of Brett Pitman's class as Leon Maloney marvels on full Portsmouth debut
Sports writer Will Rooney assesses the talking points from Pompey’s 1-0 EFL Trophy victory over Crawley on Tuesday night...
A REMINDER FROM PITMAN – NOT THAT IT WAS NEEDED
Brett Pitman knows the quality he possesses.
It wouldn’t be balderdash to say he believes he’d boost Pompey’s chances of promotion if he played on a regular basis.
That's a sentiment sections of the Fratton faithful would also agree with.
Nevertheless, his performance off the bench against Crawley at least franked his case.
Quite rightly, the ex-AFC Bournemouth man pinpointed not many players at Fratton Park could have scored the goal he did.
Pitman gambled to get in front of his man from a corner before nonchalantly hooking the ball that was behind him inside the post.
It wasn't just his strike that underlined what the 31-year-old can bring to the table, though.
From the restart after replacing Gareth Evans, Pitman played positively, with one superb pass picking out the run of Ellis Harrison down the right flank early on.
Not all of his attempts found their intended target, but Pitman’s vision on the front foot is something the Blues haven’t quite had during the formative stage of the campaign.
The energy Andy Cannon and Gareth Evans offer is why they’ve been ahead in the skipper in the number-10 role so far.
But if it's an inventive forwar playing off the striker Jackett seeks in certain games then Pitman’s the candidate.
But 24 hours later, the youngster was making his full Pompey debut.
After being an unused substitute against QPR and Blackpool, Isle of Wight-born winger got his reward for his patience with a start against Crawley.
And didn’t the lad impress.
Maloney grew into the first half as it wore on. One penetrating run caused him to be felled by Tarryn Allarakhia, with the Reds player picking up a booking.
A half-volley didn't quite drop right for the third-year scholar moments later and his effort at the back post was saved before a fizzing ball he delivered across the face of goal was almost met by Ellis Harrison.
It was in the second period, though, when Maloney really shone following a switch to the left flank.
Shortly after the restart, he did superbly to open up space on the edge of the box. A Fratton Park goal proved to tempting as he tried to pick the top corner but shot wide when there were four blue shirts queuing up.
Nevertheless, he learnt from that and later in the half it was from his centre that John Marquis’ header won the Blues a corner and Brett Pitman did the damage.
In the closing stages, Maloney burst into the area and should have shot but instead played a ball back to Ben Close. He should have been selfish.
After netting 16 goals for Mark Kelly’s academy side last season, Maloney gave a tantalising glimpse of the attributes and will be hoping more come.
Pompey’s crossing has been found wanting on occasions this season.
In League One defeats away at Shrewsbury and Sunderland, the Blues got into several good positions down the flanks but were unable to deliver the right balls into the mixer.
With Dion Donohue departing, the Blues have been short of a set-piece specialist.
Brandon Haunstrup, however, showed he can take up that mantle.
In the second half, he put in two wicked corner that went begging before Brett Pitman eventually met the third.
The Waterlooville ace’s crossing from open play was also top-drawer, with a ball picking out Ellis Harrison at the back post which forced a fine stop out of visiting keeper Michael Luyambula.
It'd be doing Haunstrup a disservice to say it was his deliveries were the only thing that impressed, though.
He consistently looked to overlap down the wing, first linking well with Gareth Evans and then Leon Maloney.
With Lee Brown out injured, Haunstrup is taking his opportunity.