First-class disappointment for second-coming Keene

James Keene was impressed by the Fratton fans
James Keene was impressed by the Fratton fans

After an absence of almost eight years, James Keene savoured his Fratton Park return.

Yet the on-loan striker believes his Pompey second debut should not have ended in a demoralising defeat to Hartlepool.

Keene walked out at Fratton Park on Saturday for a first appearance on home turf since May 2005.

On that occasion, he was a 60th-minute substitute for Giannis Skopelitis as Alain Perrin’s men drew 1-1 with Bolton.

Keene went on to start the following match, the memorable fixture at West Brom whose result saw Southampton relegated.

Yet the home-grown youngster never played for Pompey again and moved to Swedish football.

Now he’s back on a month’s loan, starting with Saturday’s 3-1 defeat against the Pools.

And it was a day of mixed feelings for the 27-year-old from Somerset.

He said: ‘I don’t even know the last time I played at Fratton Park, it was probably in the reserves a long, long time ago.

‘My debut was here against Bolton, it was a great memory and it was also a great memory on Saturday.

‘The fans were fantastic and I didn’t think they would be that good.

‘It has been a while but the fans were just as good as I remembered.

‘I think we were a little bit unlucky. We played very well in the first half and made very simple mistakes for them to score the three goals.

‘Their keeper made some great saves and they defended well. With the number of chances we had and the number of opportunities to get the ball into the box we should have done better with it.

‘(The goalkeeper) Flinders made that really good double save early on and it shows we are creating the chances, which is a good thing. We have to take them really.

‘We lacked a little bit of quality in the final third now and again but that will come.

‘There were a lot of new players playing together, including some making their league debut. The first game is always the hardest game when it’s like that, so hopefully now we are over that we can look forward to the next match.’

That comes in the form of Notts County’s visit to Fratton tomorrow night in a re-arranged fixture.

Keene played the entire 90 minutes of Saturday’s defeat and his willingness to work hard and chase lost causes were obvious.

It was also his aerial challenge which helped create a debut goal for Jed Wallace in the second half.

Of course, these are still early days for the striker on loan from Elfsborg.

But Keene was pleased with his second unveiling as a Pompey player.

He added: ‘I was happy that I created some chances, I had a few good shots and managed to keep the ball on occasions. I am still a 
little bit rusty, I haven’t played a game since the very start of November so it’s a case of getting back into it.

‘I thought Jed (Wallace) put a lot of hard work in and had a very good debut.

‘And Dan Butler at left back is a young lad getting a debut, which is great for the club.’