Having started the season with an unexpected and unwanted 1-0 defeat away to Shrewsbury Town on the opening day of the campaign, Portsmouth got their latest push for promotion from League One well underway on Saturday, with a 2-0 win over newly-promoted Tranmere Rovers at Fratton Park.
Goals in either half from Ben Close and Tom Naylor were enough to secure a first three points of the season for Kenny Jackett’s side, as they look to make up for the disappointment of their play-off semi-final defeat last summer.
One man who it seems could be crucial to them doing that following his performance against Tranmere is Marcus Harness. The winger joined Pompey from Burton Albion during the summer transfer window, seemingly to replace the departing Jamal Lowe after he made the step up to the Championship with Wigan Athletic, and will look to fill the role in Pompey’s attack left by the 25-year-old.
So is Harness starting to look like a decent replacement for Lowe at Fratton Park?
Here, we put the spotlight on his performance against Tranmere to find out.
Throughout the course of the 90 minutes plus stoppages that he was on the pitch on Saturday, it certainly appears as though Harness put in the sort of performance that will give plenty of sides, such as Tranmere, problems throughout the course of the season.
Although not directly involved in either of the goals himself, that didn’t stop Harness from having plenty of influence during his time on the Fratton Park pitch, with the striker still creating the opportunity for his teammates to take shots at Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies on two more occasions.
With Harness also successfully completing seven dribbles throughout the course of the match, and making three progressive runs, it does seem as though he will be a threat to defenders throughout the course of the campaign.
What these stats in particular seem to show, is that the 23-year-old is capable of getting himself into the sort of positions from which he can cause trouble for the opposition – be that with the ball or with a view to receiving a pass from a teammate – and then put it into an area from which his fellow attackers can look to put the ball in the back of the net.
Considering he is making those sort of moves, Harness is clearly confident in his ability to help lead Portsmouth back to the second-tier, and considering the winger came out on top in no fewer than eight offensive duels against Tranmere, you can certainly see why.
That ability to both take on and beat defenders is only going to serve Harness well throughout this season and beyond, and it does seem to suggest that those runs and dribbles he is making will continue to cause trouble throughout the course of the campaign.
It also appears as though Harness is capable of doing his bit for the Pompey defensively, with the winger making five interceptions throughout the course of the match, showing his capabilities in both breaking down opposition attacks, and potentially launching another push towards goal for his own side in the process.
The departure of Jamal Lowe was always going to be a hard one for Portsmouth to take, and an even harder one for them to deal with.
In Harness, however, it seems they have a potential replacement for their key man, and one that has the similar sort of attacking instinct that it seems Kenny Jackett’s side are going to need if they are to put that play-off disappointment of last season behind them.