Pompey Edge Hatters In Opener

Last updated : 05 August 2018 By Jim Bonner

Pompey can count themselves fortunate to have won their opening day fixture over Luton at Fratton Park yesterday as the visitors dominated much of the match but paid for an early defensive lapse.

The goal was scored by Jamal Lowe, a man supposedly ruled out for a few weeks with an ankle injury. Kenny "don't believe what you read in the papers" Jackett's misleading information to the public turned out to be an ingenious stroke of deception.

The impressive Ronan Curtis was the one to do the hard work in the box before squaring the ball to the unmarked Lowe who slotted home the only goal of the game.

Earlier, Curtis had gone down under a challenge with fans baying for a red card, but the protests on the pitch were minimal and no action was taken.

Pompey settled for a period after taking the lead but the midfield that performed well against Utrecht looked disjointed and continued to give the ball away as the Hatters took control of the game.

Nathan Thompson's crucial interception denied James Collins an equaliser whilst Pelly Ruddock Mpenzu fired narrowly wide and Alan Sheehan's free kick struck the woodwork.

Brett Pitman was withdrawn for Oli Hawkins in a tactical switch but that didn't work as Luton dominated the majority of the second half with Pompey thankful to Craig MacGillivray and the post for preventing an equaliser.

The new Pompey keeper did well to stop Harry Cornick's shot going in from a tight angle and he also did well to save Sheehan's free kick that bent around the wall.

On the rare occasions the hosts had to break, they couldn't take advantage due to poor passing or some weak hold-up play from Hawkins.

Losing possession so cheaply meant a nervy end to the match for the home fans as Nathan Jones chucked on Pompey rejects Jake Jervis and Sonny Bradley on in search of what would have been a deserved late equaliser, but thankfully it never came and Pompey took the points.

Most Pompey fans acknowledged that Kenny Jackett's men rode their luck massively yesterday but at the same time, some stellar defensive work from the back five ensured that most of the threatening balls into the box were either cleared or covered.

The glaring problem was the midfield as Anton Walkes looked uncomfortable and Tom Naylor beside him seemed sluggish. Brandan Haunstrup is not a left winger based on this evidence whilst Jamal Lowe scored but did little else.

Pitman may have been subbed at half-time but he had no service as the players behind him, whether it was because of the aimless hoofs from the back or the misplaced passes in midfield. Hawkins certainly proved he was no substitute after the break.

Still, despite the poor performance, it was still a victory and there is plenty of time for Jackett and his staff to work on improving the midfield and attacking play. At least he knows that as disjointed as the team were going forward, the defence look solid and alert.

The transfer window shuts before Pompey's next league game at Blackpool and hopefully one or two deals can be done to strengthen the squad before then.

But for now, it's three points in the bag by crook rather than hook and sometimes those types of wins are more satisfactory than the inevitable better performances Pompey will be capable of this season.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 7 - Distribution needs work, but made some key saves in the second half.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Crucial block in the first half and got stuck in. Hopefully his injury isn't too serious.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Typical strong performance.

Jack Whatmough: 8 - Won virtually everything in the air and a clam influence at the back.

Lee Brown: 6 - Solid if unspectacular debut. Looks like he'll pick up a fair few cards this season!

Jamal Lowe: 6 - Scored but wasn't given the opportunity to do much else.

Anton Walkes: 4 - Did not look at all comfortable at centre midfield. Could be given his chance at right back if Thompson's injury is serious.

Tom Naylor: 5 - Surprisingly lacklustre debut. Will be expecting better from him.

Brandan Haunstrup: 5 - Not build for a role so far up the pitch.

Ronan Curtis: 7 - Looks good with the ball at his feet and physical strength means he can win the ball high up the pitch. Should be an asset this season.

Brett Pitman: 5 - Virtually anonymous but knowing him will probably return and score at Blackpool. Not helped by sloppy service.


Luke McGee

Christian Burgess (Thompson 71): 6 - Slotted in a right back and did a job, though he actually looked fairly good when supporting the attack.

Dion Donahue

Ben Close (Walkes 60): 6 - An improvement on Walkes.

Gareth Evans

Conor Chaplin

Oli Hawkins (Pitman 46): 5 - Not the focal point of the attack or outlet that Jackett would have been hoping for.