|Crawley Town||1 – 2||Portsmouth|
Pitman bags brace as Blues end pre-season with victory
Pompey go into the new campaign on a high after ending their pre-season programme with victory at Crawley.
But they had to come from behind, with Thomas Verheydt giving the hosts an early lead at a wet Broadfield Stadium.
Skipper Brett Pitman led the turnaround, levelling with a fine second half free-kick before snatching the winner.
It was the League Two side who were quickest from the blocks and Josh Lelan headed narrowly wide from Mark Randall’s corner.
And the hosts did break the deadlock from another flag-kick just seconds later, with Verheydt converting Randall’s delivery.
There was not too much else to excite the Sussex crowd in a drab first half played out in unseasonable conditions.
Kyle Bennett and Tareiq Holmes-Dennis were the two Blues players to impress going forward and a teasing low cross from the former had to be cleared behind by Josh Yorwerth.
A skewed clearance from Tom Davies at the other end led to Randall firing wide with Luke McGee off his line.
Bennett then had one shot comfortably saved by Glenn Morris, while another was blocked following some fancy footwork.
Crawley were creating the better openings, however, and Enzio Boldewijn flashed a shot narrowly over after cutting inside from the right.
Then, after Jordan Roberts had just about beaten McGee to the ball, Holmes-Dennis made a superb clearance from the line.
And, from the resulting corner, McGee was forced to claw away another Verheydt effort that was heading for the net.
Pompey started to look more threatening as the interval beckoned and with Pitman lurking at the far post, Mark Connolly had to intercept Holmes-Dennis’ low cross.
Bennett’s incisive pass then picked out Conor Chaplin in the box, but the striker could not get the ball untangled from his feet.
Half Time: Crawley 1 Pompey 0
Chaplin thought he should have been awarded a penalty early in the second half when his surge into the area was abruptly halted, but referee Carl Brook was not interested.
But the Blues were level on 55 minutes after Pitman had been crudely challenged by Connolly in a central position outside the box.
It was PITMAN who stepped up to take the free-kick and curl a fantastic effort right into the top corner of the net.
The striker was then involved in a clash with Yorwerth on the edge of the Crawley area, but perhaps with the fact it was a friendly in mind, Brook just gave the pair a stern telling off.
It was otherwise typical friendly fare on the pitch, with the game starting to lag as the second half progressed.
Kal Naismith angled a shot into the side netting for Pompey, while Boldewijn fired wide at the other end.
But the Blues found themselves ahead on 75 minutes, as PITMAN collected a neat pass from substitute Milan Lalkovic and coolly lifted the ball over Morris.
The lead should have been strengthened further, only for Naismith to slot wide when it seemed far easier to score.
And the Blues comfortably passed the ball around among themselves to see out the final few minutes and secure the win.
Crawley (5-4-1): Morris; Young, Lelan, Yorwerth, Connolly, Evina; Boldewijn, Bulman (c), Randall (Payne 68), Roberts (Lewis 80); Verheydt (Harrold 70)
Goals: Verheydt 3
Subs not used: Mersin, Arthur, Cox, Blackman, Djalo, Clifford, Tajbakash, Sanoh, Camara
Pompey (4-4-1-1): McGee; Evans, Davies, Whatmough, Holmes-Dennis; Naismith, Baker, Rose, Bennett; Pitman (c); Chaplin (Lalkovic 62)
Goals: Pitman 55, 75
Subs not used: Bass, Talbot, Haunstrup, Close, May, Lowe, Main, Kabamba
Referee: Carl Brook
Attendance: 1,603 (778 Pompey fans)