Portsmouth winger starting to hit heights of early season, while win over Fleetwood reaffirms League One conclusion

Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the talking points from Pompey’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Fleetwood...

Monday, 6th January 2020, 8:15 am
Updated Wednesday, 8th January 2020, 2:45 pm

Harness nearing his best

He was the player a large section of supporters were lauding at the beginning of the campaign.

Following his summer switch from Burton, Marcus Harness enjoyed a running start to his Pompey career.

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But, by his own admission, a thigh injury sustained at Blackpool killed his momentum – and he’s been searching to replicate that form ever since.

However, judging by his most recent performances – especially at Fleetwood – Harness is returning to the heights he reached in the formative stages of the season.

He was Pompey’s chief attacking threat at the Highbury Stadium, causing the hosts all sorts of problems, especially in the first half.

It was the winger who broke with velocity in the third minute from a corner, before his inch-perfect cross was headed just wide by James Bolton.

James Bolton celebrates his goal at Fleetwood. Picture: Paul Thompson

Then Harness did superbly to not just control Tom Naylor’s drilled pass but take it in his stride to beat a red shirt and have an effort saved.

That was shortly followed by a slalom run inside the Fleetwood area when he beat a cluster of defenders with his tight control before having a shot deflected wide.

On his day, Harness is undoubtedly up there with the best players in the division.

Should he do it on a consistent basis until May, then he’ll not only torment defences up and down the land, but put Pompey firmly in the promotion mix.

Marcus Harness was a constant Pompey threat against Fleetwood. Picture: Paul Thompson

Seddon impresses on bow

It was an eye-catching performance on his Blues bow.

But what made Steve Seddon’s debut more impressive was that he hadn’t even trained with his new team-mates properly following his arrival from Birmingham on Thursday.

The left-back was a constant outlet down the wing and always looked to support Ronan Curtis when Pompey ventured forward.

Steve Seddon caught the eye on his Pompey debut. Picture: Paul Thompson

There was one moment from Seddon when he created himself a yard of space before flighting in a cross that caused panic in the Fleetwood box.

He also underlined his dead-ball prowess, with the Blues missing a left-footer because of respective injuries to Lee Brown and Brandon Haunstrup.

Sean Raggett perhaps should have done better shortly before half-time when he headed Seddon’s free-kick wide.

But it was from the ex-AFC Wimbledon man’s corner which yielded the match-winner, with his in-swinger being headed back across goal by Christian Burgess for John Marquis to bundle home.

Certainly, it was an encouraging maiden outing.

And when Seddon works with his team-mates every day on the training ground, that immediate rapport is only going to get even stronger.

The conclusion everyone already come to

Pompey had played every side in League One bar Fleetwood before Saturday.

Granted, it was an FA Cup tie rather than a third-tier fixture, but both managers named near full-strength starting line-ups and a barometer was able to be gauged.

The general consensus is there’s no stand-out side in the division.

Like the Blues, Joey Barton’s side harbour their own aspirations of promotion and sit three places and a point above Kenny Jackett’s men in the table.

Yet Pompey deservedly defeated the Cod Army on their own patch and handed them just a second home loss of the season.

More importantly, it again highlighted how open League One is for any team who puts together a string of results.