Portsmouth can ill-afford to lose Nathan Thompson on a free after another magnificent display against Coventry

Sports writer Will Rooney picks out the talking points from Easter Monday’s 2-1 win over Coventry...

Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 12:08 pm
Updated Tuesday, 23rd April 2019, 12:13 pm
Nathan Thompson. Picture: Joe Pepler

Blues can ill-afford to lose Thompson

It was a block that proved just as crucial as Brett Pitman’s match-winner.

When Luke Thomas rounded Craig MacGillivray in the 19th minute, he looked odds-on to double Coventry’s lead.

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Nathan Thompson. Picture: Joe Pepler

But with the goal at his mercy, Nathan Thompson tracked back and made an unbelievable block to thwart the Sky Blues winger’s shot on the line. 

The Pompey right-back had no right whatsoever to make such an intervention – but he did so impeccably.

Thompson’s block underlined the sort of form he’s been in of late. 

After a man-of-the-match display in the 2-1 win at Burton on Good Friday, playing his part in both goals, he again took The News’ award against Mark Robins’ men.

Brett Pitman celebrates his winner with Lee Brown. Picture: Joe Pepler

His wholehearted performances embody the sort of commitment that has been displayed over and over from Kenny Jackett’s men this term.

Since returning from a hamstring injury in February, he’s been one of Pompey’s stand-out performers.

Out of contract at the end of the season, it really would be a significant blow if Thompson didn’t sign a new deal and departed Fratton Park on a free transfer.

Now 28, he firmly harbours ambitions of playing in the Championship.

And after two magnificent performances in front of the Sky Sports cameras, there’d likely be no shortage of potential suitors looking to snap up his services. 

In truth, the Blues can ill-afford lose him whichever division they’re in next season.

 

Changes again work

Kenny Jackett hasn’t been afraid to make substitutions when things haven’t been going right for his side.

At Burton, Omar Bogle and Bryn Morris were brought on midway through the second half, while Ronan Curtis came on a few minutes later.

And we all know what happened there.

Yesterday, after a frustrating first half against Coventry, Jackett opted for Curtis and James Vaughan to change the dynamic of the game.

The changes certainly pepped Pompey up.

Vaughan’s energy end experience gave the visiting defence plenty to think about.

After being omitted from the past three squads, he had the bit between his teeth and wanted to underline the quality he’s rarely had a chance to demonstrate since arriving on loan from Wigan in January. 

And after whipping in the cross which lead to Clarke’s winner at Burton, Curtis again was at the centre of the Blues clinching all three points.

The Irishman’s delivery ran all the way to Pitman at the back stick in the 83rd minute and he crashed home his volley.

Certainly, Jackett will be slightly frustrated his XI from the outset didn’t get on top.

But when he’s got such options off the bench, he can also be confident he has the armoury at his disposal to change things.

 

Pitman eyeing a retain of his title

When the loose ball came to a blue shirt in the 83rd minute, the Fratton faithful only wanted it to drop to one man.

And that it did.

Coventry's failure to deal with Curtis’ cross gave Pitman the opportunity to fire Pompey ahead. 

On his weaker left foot, with the pressure on, the skipper did what he does best. 

He got over the ball and smashed it home to ensure automatic promotion now rests firmly in the Blues’ hands. 

That took Pitman's tally to six in his past seven games and 13 for the season.

It's a remarkable return given he was a bit-part player during the opening half of the campaign and has been left out of numerous match-day squads.

Pompey hold their awards dinner on Wednesday – but one prize won’t be given out.

Jamal Lowe tops the scoring charts with 16. With three games remaining, however, Pitman will be aiming to retain the gong he won so emphatically last term.