Many knew that the sale of Jed Wallace to Wolves in the summer was going to be a big loss for Portsmouth as the academy product was clearly a shining star in what was a rather disappointing season.
However, what wasn’t expected was for young Conor Chaplin to step up to the mark and become a new fans’ favourite. In his first full season playing professional football, he has not only racked up a total of four goals, but is also managing to keep League Two’s top goal-scorer last season, Matt Tubbs, out of the starting line-up.
As the season goes on, the 18 year-old is proving himself week after week and in the last home game, against Barnet, he netted two of the three goals which saw the Blues take away all the points. As a result of this fine form, he now has his own chant which echoes around Fratton Park on a match-day. From working in the club shop, it is clear that he has gained quite a lot of attention (and not just a male following), as fans flood through the doors with their £12 in order to get the number 19’s name on the back of their shirt.
Furthermore, the Worthing-born teenager has also been heavily talked about after his cup performances. He scored the winner in a 2-1 victory over Championship side Derby in the first round of the Capital One Cup leaving the Sky Sports pundits raving about his performance following the game. In the next round, he went on to score our goal against Reading and, despite a 2-1 loss, was once again the stand-out performer in a rather impressive Pompey line-up. In the following league game, this time against Luton, Chaplin proved that he wasn’t just about scoring goals as some neat footwork allowed him to provide the assist for Tubbs’ 90th minute winner, which kept us in the top three after it looked like we had settled for a point at Kenilworth Road.
Fans are certainly getting excited about this young talent and it would appear that there is more to come from the teenager who has been at the club since the age of six. The stats certainly don’t lie and after looking at the academy records from last season, we can see that Chaplin’s consistency is quite clearly there. He scored 11 goals in the first 11 games for the under-18s last year, and carried on his fine form throughout as he bagged a hat-trick against MK Dons in one of the final games of the season.
The Fratton faithful are therefore hoping that he is able to deliver just as often for the first team in 2015-16, especially now that he has signed a new three-year contract. That means we can all rest assured that there are no plans for him to leave just yet. Despite Pompey CEO Mark Catlin revealing that other clubs are interested, the new deal will surely wipe out any doubts among fans. Additionally, if promotion is secured in the coming months, it serves as another incentive for the teenager to stay.
After winning the League Two Apprentice of the Year in May, it would appear that Conor Chaplin really is unstoppable and with age on his side, the sky is the limit for Pompey’s latest starlet.