Ones To Watch: Portsmouth
A name that might not be that familiar with most Argyle fans, Jamal Lowe joined Portsmouth last season from Hampton and Richmond Borough and immediately established himself as a fan favourite, injecting more speed into what was perceived to be a slow front three, despite failing to hold down a starting spot as they snatched the title.
With Jackett taking over from Cook, Pompey’s approach has become less technical and more physical which has enabled Lowe to claim a starting spot within the team and become one of Pompey’s key players this season. Only Christian Burgess and Luke McGee have played more minutes than the winger, who has amassed four goals and three assists in all competitions.
Only Brett Pitman has been involved in more goals for Pompey this season
Lowe is a more traditional winger who thrives off his physical attributes: he’s strong, quick and direct. Combining with the likely captain-on-the-day Gareth Evans, he will look to get himself involved from the early stages and establish himself as a threat to Argyle’s defence. As he pushed forward, he’ll create more room for Evans to support him on the right and will probably give Argyle a tough time down that side.
Stat: Lowe has faced Argyle twice before and is yet to be on the winning side. The winger came off the bench for the last 10 minutes of the draw at Fratton Park last season, and at a similar time for Barnet back in 2012 in a 4-1 win for Argyle at Underhill.
Kennedy should remain in every Argyle fan’s mind following a productive stint at Home Park last season, playing a key role as they made it over the line by providing five goals and three assists from the left wing. A return this season never looked on the cards after Argyle signed up a series of wingers early in the summer, but his deadline day move to Portsmouth left some fans at Home Park a little disappointed.
Six of Kennedy’s seven goals over the last two seasons have come against sides in the bottom five of their league
Kennedy has started well for Pompey, making the left wing spot his own early on. He scored the winner at Gillingham live on Sky and recently provided the game changing impetus to turn a draw into a win against Southend. In total he’s been invovled in seven goals since his move to Fratton Park. Though still fond of cutting inside, he’s continued to develop his game after his successful loan spell at PL2 and has proved to be a reliable operator on the left wing by holding his width and learning to resist the temptation to come inside with such frequency.
Pompey have struggled to replace their star left-back Enda Stevens since his switch to Sheffield United this summer – with Dion Donoghue, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Damien McCrory, Brandon Haunstrup and Matt Clark all lining up in the position this season – so it is unlikely that they will prove quite as dangerous on the left as the right. Despite this, Kennedy has the acceleration and agility to cause problems for any full-back in this league, though he might not find it as easy to cut inside the left-footed Sawyer, as opposed to his usual right-footed opponents.
It remains unlikely that Brett Pitman, Portsmouth’s leading goal scorer this season, will participate this weekend having missed their midweek defeat to Peterborough with a hamstring injury; Jackett confirmed on Thursday that Pitman would miss the game, but the striker has since said he believes he will be fit to play. Should he miss it, Pompey’s attack would be seriously weakened given that the 29-year-old has netted half of Pompey’s league goals this season, with the side sometimes appearing blunt in his absence.
With that possibility a likelihood, and Oliver Hawkins now converted from a striker into a centre-back, the two men who could fill Pitman’s boots are Curtis Main and Conor Chaplin. Main led the line for Portsmouth in midweek, but was replaced by Chaplin (who has played twice as many minutes this season) in the second half, with the youngster going on to score his third league goal of the season. The Pompey academy graduate has found starts hard to come by this season, with his appearances mainly coming off the bench, but he has still showed his usual eye for goal and is likely to cause problems if used on Saturday.
On average, Chaplin has scored a league goal every 157 minutes, and has scored 22 goals despite starting only 32 matches in his career
Standing at only 5ft8, Chaplin lacks the physical presence that Pitman, Main or Hawkins could provide, but his predatory instincts in the box combined with his quick feet make him a tricky player to handle. He has already scored some outstanding goals in his short career and, quite frankly, it’s surprising that he hasn’t been poached by a higher division club willing to give him even more game time. His technical ability fitted more naturally with Paul Cook’s style of play, that does not mean he cannot be a success in Jackett’s team.
Even if he doesn’t start on Saturday, expect him to cause problems no matter the scoreline should he inevitably come off the bench.
Stat: Brett Pitman has played in every tier of the football league during his career, but to this point he has not played a competitive fixture against Argyle. Chaplin meanwhile, has already racked up four appearances against Argyle, scoring in last season’s draw at Home Park, but has yet to be on the winning side.