The striker who bounced back Portsmouth hoodoo to plunder 75 goals in four seasons for Bolton, Oldham, Swindon and Bradford
There has long been lingering Fratton Park suspicion that Pompey have a penchant for ruining free-scoring strikers.
Certainly, the accusations have become increasingly prevalent during the on-going Championship exile.
The theory has often been rolled out to defend John Marquis, while John Akinde, Michael Smith and Eoin Doyle have been afflicted with similar fates.
In particular the latter, who since an uninspiring Pompey stint has plundered 75 goals in 181 matches, while claiming two League Two promotions.
In comparison, the Irishman netted twice in 12 Blues outings before returning to parent club Preston in the summer of 2017 at the end of his loan.
The euphoria of the League Two title cannot mask a disappointing spell for Doyle in a personal campaign cut short by injury.
Still, he went on to represent Oldham, Swindon, Bradford and now, Saturday’s opposition, Bolton, with each stop signifying a prolific period.
The Fratton faithful, however, never glimpsed the true goal-scoring talent of the now 33-year-old, despite collecting promotion in his presence.
There was great excitement when Doyle was reunited with former Chesterfield boss Paul Cook in January 2017, a transfer designed to bolster the Blues’ aspirations of reaching League One.
Cook jettisoned Michael Smith to Northampton, previously a regular starter, to create room both in his squad and budget to accommodate the incoming Irishman.
Interest in the Preston man had long been mooted and there was genuine excitement among Blues followers upon the Championship forward’s loan capture for the remainder of the season.
However, during his two campaigns at Fratton Park, Cook often struggled to identify an effective lone striker in his 4-2-3-1 system, despite the quality of results.
Doyle was another example.
Hard-working and full of commitment, he netted on his third outing, registering in the fifth minute of stoppage time against Blackpool to add to Gareth Evans’ opener.
However, by the time of the March 2017 trip to Crawley, some fans were calling for Cook’s head, the team had held crisis talks, and their striking figurehead had scored once in seven matches.
What unfolded at the Broadfield Stadium represented the turning point in a campaign which would yield the League Two title.
And it emanated from Doyle, albeit unintentionally.
How the Blues required victory following the Crewe debacle, with the supporter base starting to turn, yet, after 53 minutes, the scoreline was goalless.
Then Enda Stevens was felled and Eoin Doyle handed penalty duties. However, his right-footed shot was saved by the keeper low to his left, with a terrific block preventing him then successfully following up.
From the resulting corner, delivered by Kal Naismith, Christian Burgess headed home from inside the six-yard box to break the deadlock.
Cook’s men went on to triumph 2-0 and the march to the title was underway.
A groin injury deprived the Blues of Doyle for the final seven matches, yet he did score his second – and last – goal for the club in the 4-0 rout of Colchester in March 2017.
Now he’s back at Fratton Park with Bolton – parading 75 goals from more than four prolific seasons since he left.
A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron
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