Portsmouth hitman’s evolving into the complete striking package

Pompey striker Oli Hawkins celebrates his side's opener against Southend. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey striker Oli Hawkins celebrates his side's opener against Southend. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey writer Jordan Cross delivers the final verdict on the weekend win over Southend which extends their lead at the top of League One.

Transformation Continues

The metamorphosis of Oli Hawkins into the complete striker continues.

The man leading the line as Pompey continued their winning form against Southend is unrecognisable from the front man who’s foundered at times in his Fratton career.

There was no goal to continue the run of six finishes from nine outings going into the game, and maybe he should have done better with a first-half header.

But the manner in which the 26-year-old led the line in excellent fashion was one of the obvious big plus points to take from victory.

Whenever the ball was played up to Hawkins, it stuck. His touch was sound and he provided a focal point to play off.

Arguably the clearest evidence the former non-league hitman’s confidence is thriving was in the manner he is now carrying himself.

The body language was forceful, the shoulders were back and there is now a swagger to Hawkins which is good news for Kenny Jackett.

Certainties of Life

The sun rising, Brexit dominating the headlines and Pompey keeping clean sheets.

These are the certainties of life as we arrive at the end of 2018.

There are certain qualities you expect of Kenny Jackett’s side, with their identity now defined.

You know Ronan Curtis is going deliver match-changing moments of quality, and you know Jamal Lowe is going to strike fear into teams with his ability to run with the ball at pace.

And you also now know, this Pompey team will keep clean sheets.

Although not impenetrable, the Blues don’t look like an outfit to ship soft goals.

And so it proved against Southend, as a 12th clean sheet of the campaign was duly recorded.

There was an early flourish from the Shrimpers and Stephen McLaughlin fired well wide after the break.

But Craig MacGillivray didn’t really look like being beaten for a second, as yet another side were snuffed out.

Trio in Tune

The midfield balance of Pompey is evolving into a key feature of the side’s success.

And the understanding of Ben Thompson, Tom Naylor and Gareth Evans was once again evident in the Southend success.

The formation has been billed as a 4-2-3-1, but it appeared Thompson was afforded a role further forward against Chris Powell’s men.

It was one holding and two joining with Naylor affording the cover to the back four.

The former Burton man was destructive in his play and ruthless in breaking up any sniffs of Southend building an opportunity.

Thompson’s standing is in place after a campaign in which he has built himself in a fans’ favourite.

But Evans, like Hawkins, is now exuding confidence in his position in Jackett’s set-up.

His dynamism was there to be seen against Southend, and the benefit of his defensive proficiencies in an attacking role affords an extra shield for his side.

The manner in which the trio have becomes a cohesive unit shone in the Fratton rain at the weekend.