Hawks Hold Pompey

Last updated : 11 July 2015 By Jim Bonner

Pompey got their pre-season campaign underway today with a 1-1 draw with Havant & Waterlooville at Westleigh Park.

Two virtually different teams played each half with a number of trialists including ex-Fleetwood winger Gareth Evans, ex-Derby right back Ben Davies, ex-Doncaster striker Theo Robinson and right back Connor Randall formerly of the Liverpool youth system. Academy graduates Brandon Launstraup and Snorre Nilsen were also given a run out.

Notable absentees from the match were Adam McGurk and Adam Barton who were left out as a precaution due to injuries whilst Johnny Ertl and James Dunne were also nowhere to be found.

The first half didn't contain many chances as both Evans and Randall on the right couldn't produce a decent cross despite their ability to get forward although Matt Tubbs almost found the net with a header when a quality ball was eventually delivered into the box.

Centre back Christian Burgess then almost broke the deadlock with a brilliant skilful run through the Havant defence only for his shot to lack power and drift harmlessly to the goalkeeper.

The Hawks then took the lead as Adrian Clifton was left practically unmarked from a free kick to head the ball past Michael Poke. The quality of defending that particular set-piece was as if last season hadn't ended.

Pompey's lack of match sharpness continued to be conveyed with passes not reaching their targets or promising moves breaking down, although Tubbs did force a save from Ryan Young late on. However, a team containing the likes of Paul Robinson, Danny Hollands and Jayden Stockley went into the break a goal down.

The second half saw the likes of Gary Roberts, Kyle Bennett and Enda Stevens make their Pompey bows and the result was a far more energetic performance that saw the visitors dominate the majority of the second half.

Michael Doyle introduced himself to the crowd by blasting in the equaliser from the edge of the box just three minutes into the half although his shot did take a deflection.

That was after Roberts had forced an excellent save from Young and his quality was clear to see as another run had the Hawks defenders bamboozled but unfortunately it ended with a blatant dive from the former Chesterfield man.

Bennett then forced another excellent save from Young who tipped a point blank header onto the crossbar and had the new team not been guilty of over-playing then they would have created even more chances, although it was better to watch than some of your usual pre-season fare.

Two more trialists in former Harrogate Town striker Callum Hassan and Ben Tollitt (released from Everton) were introduced late on, with the latter looking good in the few minutes he was given to make an impression.

The match ended 1-1 and although some fans may be disappointed with the result, it really doesn't mean anything given the structure of the match and the lack of match practice of the players.

A few notes from the afternoon if you want to judge players on one friendly match:

- Looking at the team the majority of the players are big units. The average height of the squad must be close to six feet tall and they certainly look like they could handle themselves in games against "rough" opposition this season.

- Out of the trialists who played, Ben Davies probably stood out the most. He looked solid and got forward well despite his age of 34. Theo Robinson lacked a decent first touch and accurate shot, two qualities you really need to be a good striker.

- None of those who played for Pompey in the first half really shone. Kal Naismith's corners were terrible, Jayden Stockley needs to be sharper and the other two trialists need more time to make an impression.

- Gary Roberts clearly has the ability to make an impact this season. He can whip in a good cross and run at defenders. Needs to cut the diving out of his game, though.

- Kyle Bennett is extremely quick and will be a handful for defenders on the wing. He was not so effective when he moved into the middle later in the match.

That's it for now. Pompey's next friendly is on Friday night when they take on Bognor Regis.