Portsmouth manager delighted for Wembley Checkatrade Trophy penalty hero Oli Hawkins after he sinks Sunderland
Kenny Jackett lauded the impact of the substitute who fired Pompey to Checkatrade Trophy glory.
Oli Hawkins, penalty taker number five, safely converted to seal an eventful Wembley showpiece against Sunderland.
Extra-time couldn’t separate the sides, but spot-kicks did - with a player who has yet to convince some of the Fratton faithful emerging as the hero.
Hawkins appeared as a 69th-minute replacement for Omar Bogle and had an increasingly-influential presence for the Blues.
Then, following a 2-2 draw, the player recruited from non-league Dagenham & Redbridge, etched his name in Fratton folklore.
Jackett said: ‘I’m really delighted for Oli, he grew into the game and got the key goal which made it 5-4 on penalties.
‘Criticism is part of being this side of the fence. Whether you are a manager or a player, you have to accept it, handle it, fight back from it.
‘As the game wore on he got more into it and was an effective sub with his hold-up play and some of his lay-offs.
‘He’s a different type of player from Omar Bogle as well and I do think having the two of them gives me a little bit of a complement.
‘With Oli you know where he is and, in terms of his hold-up play, is very reliable. Omar is a little bit more unpredictable, but has more pace.
‘There are not many players like Oli, I do think he’s a good player, I’m pleased he’s in our group and in our squad.
‘He’s a very effective, big centre-forward, everybody is looking for them, there aren’t many around and he can continue to improve.
‘If you are looking at substitutions right the way through all leagues, generally the forwards positions are the ones are used, they have fresh energy and are a different type of player against defenders.
‘For Oli to be in the mix for us - and to have him available - is a big one.’
Man-of-the-match Gareth Evans, Brett Pitman, Lee Brown and Jamal Lowe netted the opening four penalties.
With Lee Cattermole’s attempt saved by Craig MacGillivray, it left Hawkins with the opportunity to be the winner.
Jackett added: ‘Evans and Pitman have been the players that have mainly taken many penalties this year, they were easy ones.
‘Jamal Lowe is very confident, although a bit younger than those two and cannot knock them out of the way, and so is Lee Brown.
‘Those four have been consistent all season in wanting to take them - then Oli was the first one to speak up and he backed it up with a terrific fifth penalty.
‘I feel comfortable with him doing it, your centre-forward should be able to take a penalty.’