|Portsmouth||2 – 1||Wycombe Wanderers|
Roberts and Chaplin secure victory
Pompey have all but secured a place in the top seven following a 2-1 victory over Wycombe at Fratton Park.
The completely controlled the first half and the impressive Gary Roberts deservedly fired them ahead.
Conor Chaplin then came off the bench to double the advantage and seemingly wrap up all three points.
But Sido Jombati’s fine free-kick set-up a nervy finale and there were plenty of chewed fingernails by the time referee Dean Whitestone blew the final whistle.
Paul Cook made three changes from the side so comprehensively beaten at York earlier in the week.
Two of them were enforced, with the injured duo of Adam Webster and Kyle Bennett making way for a fit-again Christian Burgess and Roberts.
The other switch saw Michael Smith drop to the bench and Kal Naismith come in wide on the left.
Wycombe were first to threaten once the game got started and Paul Jones had to gather the ball on the edge of his box to deny the rampaging Gozie Ugwu.
But as the half progressed, the hosts began to take complete control of proceedings in front of another large crowd.
Michael Doyle fed a fine pass through to Roberts, although he then cut the ball back to absolutely no-one.
Roberts, however, was at the heart of everything the Blues did going forward, dictating play with a number of clever passes.
Pompey kept knocking at the door in search of an opening goal and Gareth Evans fired into the side netting before Naismith’s cross was nervously dealt with.
They almost broke the deadlock on 23 minutes when Doyle dispossessed former Fratton loanee Marcus Bean in the centre to start an attack.
Roberts picked the ball up and his drive was parried clear by Ryan Allsop, while Danny Hollands’ follow-up was deflected safely into the keeper’s arms.
It was Roberts who went close again moments later, but after brilliantly controlling Christian Burgess’ pass and side-stepping a defender, he curled his shot over the bar.
Matt Clarke’s surging run then created a chance for the lively Marc McNulty and his effort was also narrowly off target.
Wycombe were struggling to hang on, with their rare attacks quickly blunted and their defence then having to deal with a wave of blue.
Naismith should have scored on 36 minutes, only to completely mis-hit his shot after being picked out in the box by Burgess.
The Fratton faithful did not have to wait long for a goal to celebrate, however.
It was ROBERTS who deservedly scored, sliding in to poke the ball home from close range following more excellent McNulty work down the right.
That failed to dampen Pompey’s attacking mentality and they continued to pour forward in search of more goals.
Naismith almost obliged just before the break after collecting a short corner, but his lashed effort cannoned back off the inside of the post.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Wycombe 0
Despite the hosts’ almost total dominance in the first half, they almost found themselves back on level terms just after the restart.
Ugwu rose highest to flick on Jombati’s cross and Jones flung himself to the left to palm the ball behind.
But Pompey then had a chance to double their lead, only for Roberts to hit a tame effort straight at Allsop when a pass for McNulty looked the better option.
Cook made a double substitution on the hour mark, with McNulty and Ben Davies making way for Chaplin and Kieron Freeman.
And CHAPLIN only had to wait seven minutes to get his name on the scoresheet and halt the Chairboys’ revival.
The striker latched onto an excellent long pass from Doyle and although his shot was scuffed, the ball trickled into the bottom corner.
That appeared to settle the nerves, but the tension soon ramped up when Wycombe reduced the deficit on 73 minutes.
Doyle was penalised for a foul on Bean on the edge of the box and Jombati stepped up to curl the free-kick over the wall and into the net.
There was a sense of panic around the stadium and that only grew when Jason McCarthy drilled in a shot that had to be hacked from the line by a well-placed Freeman.
Pompey were soon looking dangerous on the break, however, and Allsop did well to deny Roberts following a sumptuous pass over the top by Chaplin.
Wycombe were pushing men forward in search of a leveller and Garry Thompson’s volley was pushed clear by Jones.
Burgess then did well to clear the ball from a crowded box after a corner had led to a nervy scramble.
There were a few groans when the fourth official announced an additional five minutes, but Pompey held on to secure the victory.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies (Freeman 60), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Naismith (McGurk 77); McNulty (Chaplin 60)
Goals: Roberts 37, Chaplin 67
Subs not used: Murphy, Barton, Close, Smith
Wycombe (4-1-4-1): Allsop; McCarthy, Stewart, Pierre, Jombati; Rowe; Sellars (Liburd 82), Bean, Harriman (Kretzschmar 72), Hayes (c) (Thompson 67); Ugwu
Goals: Jombati 73
Booked: Stewart, Bean
Subs not used: Siegrist, Jacobson, McGinn, Sellers
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 16,187 (737 away fans)