Match Report

May 062017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 6 – 1 Cheltenham Town

 

We are CHAMPIONS!

Pompey thrashed Cheltenham 6-1 to secure the League Two title on a memorable afternoon on the south coast.

They became only the fifth team to win all four divisions after both Plymouth and Doncaster failed to secure three points.

Daniel O’Shaughnessy’s own-goal opened the scoring at Fratton Park, but the lead was a slender one at the break.

It all changed in the second half, however, as Kyle Bennett, Jamal Lowe and Gareth Evans found the target – the latter from the penalty spot – while Kal Naismith bagged a brace.

Fans then flooded onto the pitch at full-time to begin a party that will likely last for quite a while.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that won at Mansfield the previous week, meaning that it was Conor Chaplin who again led the line.

But it was a Robins player who inadvertently gave the hosts a welcome lead with just 13 minutes on the clock.

Enda Stevens – who collected The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season award before kick-off – delivered a low cross that O’Shaughnessy deflected into his own net.

Chaplin had a chance to double the advantage soon after, but his fierce drive was kept out by Scott Brown.

Cheltenham were not creating too much at the other end, although David Forde got down to his left to keep out Harry Pell’s effort.

The Blues were looking more threatening, meanwhile, and when a free-kick was played to Carl Baker, his curling shot was deflected inches past the post by the knee of Danny Wright.

The visitors grew stronger as the first half progressed and Forde made a comfortable save to deny Billy Waters.

Then, after the keeper did well to keep out Dan Holman’s strike, Danny Rowe curled the ball narrowly wide.

Bennett had a shot saved by Brown, while a stretching Chaplin could not quite reach Naismith’s centre.

But Cheltenham almost grabbed a leveller just before the interval, Dan Holman finding Rowe and the midfielder firing in a shot that was deflected narrowly over.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Cheltenham 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

There was also a great chance for the visitors moments after the restart, but Danny Wright could only head Kyle Storer’s cross wide from close range.

Holman then had a shot that was racing towards the net before Forde dived to his right to push the ball clear.

But the Blues almost had a second when Danny Rose unleashed a fierce volley that cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.

Cook made a double switch just past the hour mark, with Baker and Chaplin making way for Lowe and Gary Roberts.

And Pompey soon doubled their advantage, as BENNETT fired in a shot that took a wicked deflection to leave Brown stranded.

That was the cue for the floodgates to open and, following a quick counter, Bennett slipped the ball through for NAISMITH to calmly slip home.

It was substitute LOWE who was next to get in on the act on 72 minutes when he found the bottom corner from a tight angle.

And when Roberts was tripped in the box by Liam Davis, referee Christopher Sarginson pointed to the spot, with EVANS stepping up to slam home the resulting penalty.

The fans were celebrating in the stands with news coming through that both Doncaster and Plymouth were being held.

Pompey had certainly done their job, although Cheltenham pulled a goal back through substitute James Dayton.

That failed to stop the hosts’ attacking charge, however, and Bennett’s strike was superbly saved by Brown.

NAISMITH did grab a sixth goal on 85 minutes, with Michael Doyle sending a ball over the top and Pompey’s top scorer calmly slotting into the net.

All the attention now was to what was happening at Grimsby and Hartlepool, with plenty of fingernails being chewed.

Fans ran onto the pitch in celebration at the final whistle, with news filtering through that Plymouth could only draw.

And when Doncaster’s match at Hartlepool finished in defeat, it was confirmed that Pompey were League Two champions.

We’re on our way.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Aborah 71), M.Doyle; Baker (Lowe 61), Naismith, Bennett; Chaplin (Roberts 61)
Goals: O’Shaughnessy 13 (og), Bennett 62, Naismith 66, 85, Lowe 72, Evans 75 (pen)
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi , Lowe, Roberts, Kabamba

Cheltenham (4-4-2): Brown; Cranston (Barthram 66), O’Shaughnessy, Boyle, Davies; Pell (Dayton 54), Storer (c), Rowe, Waters; Wright, Holman (Munns 71)
Goals: Dayton 78
Booked: Storer
Subs not used: Kitscha, Winchester, Downes, Wootton

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 17,956 (545 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 292017
 
League 2
Mansfield Town 0 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Blues win final away game

Pompey won their final away game of the season at Mansfield to keep title hopes alive.

A fractious contest was settled just before the hour mark with a goal that Carl Baker and Conor Chaplin both claimed.

The Stags thought Matt Clarke should have been dismissed earlier in the second half and could not make their late pressure count.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that beat Cambridge on home soil the previous week.

Chaplin, Christian Burgess and Danny Rose all returned, with Nicke Kabamba, Jack Whatmough and Stanley Aborah – the latter of whom had been struggling with a neck injury – dropping to the bench.

The hosts were desperately searching for a play-off spot, so it came as no surprise that they showed more urgency in the opening stages.

A free-kick led to a scramble in Pompey’s box and Lee Collins’ cross ricocheted off Rhys Bennett and straight into David Forde’s arms.

Another set-piece from the hosts was quickly given to the familiar-sounding Danny Rose, whose low drive was comfortably stopped by Forde.

In truth, however, neither side was able to get out of second gear in a drab half that yielded very few clear-cut chances.

Mansfield’s Rose had another effort easily dealt with by Forde, while Kal Naismith took a swipe at thin air and ended up on his backside – drawing laughter from Cook in the technical area.

Gareth Evans was looking lively for the Blues and he dragged a shot wide after stealing the ball from Alex MacDonald.

Naismith then had the best chance for the visitors with a fierce drive that was heading for the top corner until being beaten behind by Jake Kean.

Kyle Bennett also enjoyed an impressive run along the edge of the box, but his shot did not cause the Stags keeper too much trouble.

Half Time: Mansfield 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The first half might have been forgettable, but the second exploded into life in the opening few minutes.

Mansfield’s Danny Rose caught Clarke dithering and was brought down by the defender, who would have just had Forde to beat.

The home crowd – and players – were baying for a red card and left furious when referee Lee Swabey instead pulled a yellow one from his pocket.

There was more bad news for the Stags moments later when Rhys Bennett found the net, only to have his celebrations cut short by an offside flag.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on 57 minutes – even if there was some confusion about who should claim it.

BAKER played a neat one-two with Naismith and curled a shot past the grasp of Kean and into the net.

He was certainly credited with the goal, although it might have got a touch off Chaplin – not that it mattered to the celebrating travelling fans.

There was certainly a fractious atmosphere, not helped by a late challenge by Ben Whiteman on Bennett.

That led to some pushing and shoving, with Swabey booking both Whiteman and Bennett, as well as Enda Stevens.

Mansfield knew they needed at least a point, so poured forward in search of an equaliser and MacDonald should at least have hit the target after being picked out at the far post.

But Chaplin then had an opportunity at the other end of the pitch and dragged his shot narrowly past the post.

MacDonald aoon had another chance for the hosts, but his effort was well saved low to his left by Forde.

Whatmough replaced Chaplin on 69 minutes as Cook looked to shore things up at the back and was immediately called into action to head clear a free-kick.

Cook completed his changes with the introductions of Gary Roberts and Aborah for Baker and Bennett respectively.

But Mansfield substitute Matt Green should have levelled soon after when he was sent through on goal and lifted the ball over Forde – but also over the net.

It was backs to the wall for Pompey as their hosts poured forward in search of a leveller, but that left spaces at the other end.

Naismith should have taken one of them late on, but could not keep his shot down after being teed-up by Roberts.

It mattered not, however, as the Blues saw out six minutes of stoppage-time to maintain hopes of adding some silverware to their promotion party.

Mansfield (4-4-2): Kean; White, Pearce, Bennett, Benning; Whiteman, Collins (c) (Green 68), Byrom, MacDonald (Hoban 86); Coulthirst, Rose (Taft 83)
Booked: White, Whiteman, Bennett, Pearce
Subs not used: Jensen, McGuire, Potter, Hamilton

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Roberts 77), Naismith, Bennett (Aborah 77); Chaplin (Whatmough 69)
Goals: Baker 57
Booked: Baker, Clarke, Stevens, Bennett, Aborah
Subs not used: O’Brien, Linganzi, Lowe, Kabamba

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 6.819 (1,459 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 222017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Cambridge United

 

Baker and Naismith on target

Pompey ensured their promotion party did not fall flat with a 2-1 victory over Cambridge at Fratton Park.

Carl Baker fired them ahead before the break and Kal Naismith’s fine free-kick doubled the advantage in the second half.

An equally impressive strike from Luke Berry reduced the deficit, but the Blues saw out the closing stages to secure all three points.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that won at Notts County to secure promotion on Easter Monday.

There were maiden starts for Nicke Kabamba and Stanley Aborah, with Gary Roberts and Amine Linganzi making way.

Matt Clarke also returned from injury to replace Christian Burgess at the heart of Pompey’s back-line.

There was a carnival atmosphere inside Fratton Park as the sides emerged from the tunnel to the tune of the Herman’s Hermits hit ‘I’m Into Something Good’.

And it was the hosts who looked more threatening in the early stages, with Naismith’s effort blocked before Baker drilled a low shot just past the post.

Enda Stevens then tried his luck after cutting inside from out wide, although his rising drive cleared the crossbar.

And Cambridge skipper Leon Legge managed to head clear a cross from the left-back before it could reach the waiting Kabamba.

Gareth Evans was next to have a pop and hit the ball cleanly enough from 25 yards, only for it to fly straight into the arms of Will Norris.

But the United keeper was beaten on 20 minutes, as Stevens got free down the left and cut the ball back for BAKER to side-foot home from inside the box.

That was the signal for the play-off chasing visitors to start showing some more ambition and try to chase an equaliser.

Medy Elito whipped in a free-kick from wide on the left, with David Forde was at his commanding best to punch clear.

But Cambridge almost drew level when the keeper failed to claim a cross on 35 minutes, as Michael Doyle initially cleared before Uche Ikpeazu’s effort was turned off the line by Jack Whatmough.

The danger was not over yet, however, and Liam O’Neil should have found the target after being picked out from the resulting corner.

And Forde did brilliantly to somehow claim a dangerous delivery by Piero Mingoia with just one hand in a crowded area.

But it was the Blues who almost snatched a goal to extend their advantage just moments before the break.

Naismith and Stevens combined well down the left and the latter’s centre was hooked back across goal by Baker, although just too high for Kabamba to divert on target at the far post.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Cambridge 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

There was another great chance for the hosts following the restart as Norris spilled Kyle Bennett’s shot, only for Kabamba to slip before he could reach the loose ball.

It was only a brief respite for Cambridge, however, and Shaun Derry’s side did fall further behind on 51 minutes.

Aborah was brought down 25 yards from goal and top scorer NAISMITH stepped up to curl home a beauty of a free-kick.

The visitors needed some inspiration and quickly made all three of their substitutions, including introductions for former Blues players James Dunne and Adam McGurk.

And Cook made a couple of switches of his own, with Kabamba and Baker making way for Conor Chaplin and Monday’s goal hero Jamal Lowe.

That seemed to take the sting out of the game, although it was still Pompey playing with more attacking intent.

A dangerous low Stevens cross was turned into his own keeper’s arms by Legge, while a couple of fine passing moves were just lacking a final killer ball.

But Cambridge found a route back into the game on 80 minutes when Aborah conceded a free-kick that Berry superbly fired past Forde’s desperate grasp.

The same played had another sighter following a foul by Doyle soon after, although this time he smashed his shot straight into the wall.

A third free-kick from Berry in stoppage-time was then heading for the net, until Forde managed to push it to safety.

And United were unable to find an equaliser, meaning that Pompey still have slim hopes of catching leaders Doncaster.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Whatmough, Clarke, Stevens; Aborah, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 67), Naismith, Bennett (Roberts 72); Kabamba (Chaplin 63)
Goals: Baker 20, Naismith 51
Booked: Baker, Whatmough, Forde
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, T.Davies, Rose

Cambridge (4-1-4-1): Norris; Halliday, Legge (c), Taylor, Carroll; O’Neil (Dunk 57); Mingoia, Newton (Dunne 61), Berry, Elito; Ikpeazu (McGurk 63)
Goals: Berry 80
Booked: O’Neil
Subs not used: Gregory, Wharton, Maris, Lewis

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 18,165 (622 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 172017
 
League 2
Notts County 1 – 3 Portsmouth

 

Blues win promotion to League One

Pompey secured promotion to League One with three games to spare after winning at Notts County.

The result – coupled with Luton’s failure to beat Mansfield – ensured the Blues ended their four-season exile in the fourth tier.

Gareth Evans fired them into the lead from the penalty spot, only for Jorge Grant to level after the break.

But Jamal Lowe came off the bench to add two goals and the referee’s final whistle was the cue for the party to really begin.

Paul Cook made two enforced changes from the side that drew with Plymouth on Good Friday.

With Matt Clarke and Danny Rose both nursing knocks, it opened up spaces in the starting 11 for Jack Whatmough and Amine Linganzi.

The sides emerged to a sea of ticker tape from the 4,366 travelling fans crammed into the Jimmy Sirrel Stand to the side of the pitch.

And although there was a slow start to proceedings on the pitch, there was certainly a jovial atmosphere off it.

Pompey supporters were in fine voice as they sang the Herman’s Hermits hit I’m Into Something Good, with the lyrics adjusted to reveal they had promotion on their minds.

It was the visitors who looked more threatening in the early stages and Gary Roberts was blocked off after being slipped through by Kal Naismith.

And they were awarded a penalty when Michael Doyle’s incisive pass released Naismith, the stand-in striker burst into the box and former Blues defender Richard Duffy was drawn into making a clumsy challenge.

Referee Graham Salisbury had a simple decision to make and EVANS stepped up to coolly send County keeper Adam Collin the wrong way from the spot.

Pompey fans had further reason to celebrate soon after, when it emerged that Luton had fallen behind at Mansfield.

But the visitors were certainly not home and dry, with Jon Stead not able to get a decent connection on Adam Campbell’s cross and the ball flying into David Forde’s arms.

A free-kick then led to a scramble in the Blues box before Carl Baker was eventually able to hack to safety.

There were certainly not an abundance of clear-cut openings at either end of the pitch, however, as the half drifted along.

Forde tried to launch an attack when he claimed a cross and picked out Naismith with a fine clearance, but the Scotsman was crowded out.

Half Time: Notts County 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The hosts looked more lively once the game restarted and Matt Tootle found Campbell unmarked in the box, only for the forward to volley over the bar.

And there was more reason to feel tense, as a couple of goals were soon scored to put Pompey’s promotion party on ice.

First news began to filter through that Luton had equalised at Field Mill and then Notts County grabbed a leveller of their own.

Elliott Hewitt sent a lofted pass into the area and Grant met it to send a fine curling finish past Forde’s grasp and into the net.

A more traditional striking option was introduced for the visitors just past the hour mark, as Roberts made way for Conor Chaplin.

There had not been much pressure applied by Pompey since the restart, although Baker’s incisive pass found Enda Stevens down the left and his low centre was just behind Kyle Bennett.

And Baker could then only chip the ball into Collin’s arms after struggling to dig the ball out on the edge of the box.

The visitors were pushing for another goal and when a couple of fine passes from Baker and Chaplin created a chance for Naismith, his angled drive was kept out by the feet of Collin.

Another attacking player was thrown into the mix on 69 minutes, with Baker withdrawn for Lowe.

Pompey were suddenly looking a real threat and the lively Bennett surged forward before seeing his stinging drive superbly tipped over by Collin.

And their pressure paid off on 77 minutes when LOWE collected Naismith’s pass, cut onto his right foot and curled home a shot.

Home fans thought they should have had a penalty soon after when Mark Yeates’ cross appeared to strike the hand of Christian Burgess, although there did not look to be much intent from the defender.

And Lowe made a vital block to deny Rob Milsom as fingernails were chewed among the expectant away fans.

But they had cause to celebrate late on when LOWE burst clear and confidently lifted home his second goal of the afternoon.

There was also a roar when those supporters learned that it had finished all square between Mansfield and Luton.

And when Salisbury blew the final whistle, it was the cue for Pompey fans to pour onto the pitch and mob their heroes.

Three more games and then the Blues’ League Two stay is at an end.

Notts County (4-2-3-1): Collin; Tootle, Duffy, Hollis, Bola; O’Connor (c) (Yeates 45+1), Milson; Hewitt, Grant, A.Campbell (T.Campbell 75); Stead
Goals: Grant 51
Booked: O’Connor, Bola
Subs not used: Searson-Smithard, Dickinson, Clackstone, Smith, Forte

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Whatmough, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 69), Roberts (Chaplin 62), Bennett (Aborah 90+2); Naismith
Goals: Evans 14 (pen), Lowe 77, 90
Booked: Linganzi, Chaplin, Naismith
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, T.Davies, Main

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 12,184 (4,366 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 142017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 1 Plymouth Argyle

 

Roberts on target in Fratton stalemate

It finished all square at Fratton Park, as Pompey came from behind to secure a point in an Easter showdown with Plymouth.

They fell behind to Jake Jervis’ header, but then proceeded to dominate for most of the contest.

And the pressure paid off after the break when Gary Roberts capitalised on some uncertainty at the back to equalise.

It was the Blues who looked most likely to get a winner, but they could not find another path through to goal.

Paul Cook chose not to change the side that beat Yeovil on home soil the previous week.

There were three former Pompey players in the opposition line-up, with Sonny Bradley, Ryan Taylor and Jervis all starting.

And it was the visitors who were first to threaten when David Fox fired in a shot that was well blocked by Matt Clarke.

Carl Baker was then denied at the other end, as Bradley came charging across to make a tackle, injuring himself in the process.

The Blues forced Luke McCormick into action on 11 minutes, with the keeper showing good reactions to keep out Gareth Evans’ swerving shot.

But Argyle broke the deadlock just seconds later when Jervis met Gary Sawyer’s cross and firmly headed home at the far post.

Pompey were guilty of trying to rush things and it was only when they slowed things down and kept possession that they started to look dangerous.

The Pilgrims, however, were determined to keep hold of their lead and got plenty of men behind the ball to frustrate their hosts.

But they were indebted to McCormick on 33 minutes, with the skipper spilling Kal Naismith’s curler, only to quickly recover and stop Roberts from sliding in the loose ball.

Plymouth were still looking dangerous on the break, though, and Matty Kennedy fired into the side netting after skipping past a couple of challenges.

However, most of the action was happening at the other end of the pitch and Naismith saw a free-kick deflected narrowly over late in the half.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Plymouth 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey continued to show plenty of attacking intent after the interval and Naismith’s cleanly-struck effort forced McCormick into action.

A shot from Kyle Bennett then deflected off Yann Songo’o and flew narrowly wide, while a Naismith effort was also diverted past the post.

Plymouth were throwing themselves in front of everything and some brave defending was paying dividends.

But they contributed to the equalising goal on 57 minutes, as Pompey’s persistence finally paid off.

Baker slipped a fine pass through to Bennett and his delivery caused confusion between McCormick and Songo’o, allowing ROBERTS to nip in and score.

Pompey continued to push and an incisive passing move ended in Naismith winning a corner, from which Baker drilled wide.

Roberts became the first Blues player to be withdrawn on 67 minutes, with Conor Chaplin on to replace him.

And it was still Pompey looking the more adventurous going forward, as their opponents searched for chances on the break.

Jamal Lowe added some fresh impetus into the hosts’ attack when he was brought on for Baker on the right.

But it was Chaplin who had a great chance to give the Blues a lead on 86 minutes, only to head wide when Naismith chipped the ball up to him in the box.

Bennett then fired a free-kick narrowly over deep into stoppage-time, as Pompey had to settle for a share of the spoils.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 78), Roberts (Chaplin 67), Bennett; Naismith
Goals: Roberts 57
Booked: Naismith
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi, Kabamba

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick (c); Threlkeld, Songo’o, Bradley (Sokolik 46), Sawyer; Sarcevic, Fox; Jervis (Smith 68), Carey, Kennedy (Tanner 81); Taylor
Goals: Jervis 12
Booked: Sarcevic, Threlkeld
Subs not used: Dorel, Miller, Donaldson, Garita

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 18,625 (2,644 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 012017
 
League 2
Hartlepool United 0 – 2 Portsmouth

 

Naismith and Roberts on target

Pompey moved another step closer to promotion with a 2-0 victory at Hartlepool.

A goal in either half from Kal Naismith and Gary Roberts ensured the Blues registered a fifth win from their past six games.

There were chances at either end of the pitch in an entertaining contest in the north-east, with both sides striking the woodwork.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that beat Newport on home soil the previous week.

Christian Burgess returned from a one-match to replace Tom Davies at the heart of defence.

And with the injured duo of Carl Baker (hamstring) and Eoin Doyle (groin) both missing, there were returns for Jamal Lowe and Noel Hunt.

There was a breathless start to proceedings, with the ball quickly switching from one end of the pitch to the other.

It was the visitors who were first to threaten with a Naismith corner that was not properly dealt with, forcing Joe Fryer to leave his line and punch clear.

But Hartlepool then broke quickly following another Pompey set-piece, only for Lewis Alessandra’s surging run to eventually break down.

The ball soon found its way out to Liam Donnelly on the right and his cross was glanced wide by Nathan Thomas.

And the action then switched to the opposite end, as Kyle Bennett saw his effort blocked before Naismith dived to meet Enda Stevens’ delivery and send the ball flying narrowly past the post.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on 17 minutes when Stevens found NAISMITH in acres of space to send a smart volley into the back of the net.

The advantage might have been doubled soon after, but a sliding Hunt could not quite reach Gareth Evans’ low cross.

Hunt then tried a snap-shot from the edge of the box, although the ball flew comfortably into Fryer’s arms.

It was the hosts who soon began to dominate possession as they searched for an equaliser without being able to test David Forde.

There were a few shots blocked by the Blues back-line, but Hartlepool were largely guilty of looking for the perfect final pass instead of trying their luck.

The display of one additional minute for stoppages seemed to signal an incident-free end to the first half.

But the players remained on the pitch for a lot longer, with Hunt landing awkwardly after challenging for the ball.

He was treated on the pitch before eventually being stretched down the tunnel and replaced by Roberts.

Half Time: Hartlepool 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Naismith was now leading the line for Pompey, but it was still Hartlepool looking the most likely side to score.

And, shortly after Forde had commandingly punched clear a cross, they had their best chance yet to draw level.

It was a cleanly-struck effort from Thomas that curled around the keeper’s grasp and cannoned back off the post, with Rhys Oates’ follow-up blocked by Matt Clarke.

But Roberts then missed a great opportunity to double the Blues’ advantage, diving to meet Stevens’ cross, but sending the ball over from close range.

The substitute made up for that miss, however, by finding the target on the hour mark and sparking wild scenes of celebration in the away end.

Naismith was the provider, staying calm when his initial effort was cut out and unselfishly slipping a pass through to ROBERTS, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from a few yards out.

And Naismith almost had another goal of his own soon after, surging forward and sending a low shot against the base of the post.

Conor Chaplin replaced Lowe for the closing stages, as Cook decided to reintroduce a more traditional striker.

There was even a late cameo for Nicke Kabamba, as Pompey saw out the final few moments with ease to secure the points.

Hartlepool (4-1-4-1): Fryer; Donnelly (Magnay 90+2), Walker, Harrison, Deverdics; Featherstone (c); Oates (Rodney 75), Woods, Alessandra, Thomas; Amond
Booked: Alessandra
Subs not used: Dudzinski, Bates, Hawkins, Richardson, Rooney

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Chaplin 80), Naismith (Kabamba 90), Bennett; Hunt (Roberts 45+5)
Goals: Naismith 17, Roberts 60
Booked: Rose
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi

Referee: Mark Brown

Attendance: 4,500 (977 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 252017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Newport County

 

Bennett and Naismith on target at Fratton Park

Pompey got their promotion charge back on track as they returned to winning ways against struggling Newport.

Kyle Bennett opened the scoring late in the first half before Kal Naismith headed in a second after the interval.

It appeared that the Blues were cruising towards three points, but Alex Samuel netted for the visitors to ensure a nervy finale.

Paul Cook – in his 100th match in charge – made two changes from the side beaten at Stevenage the previous week.

Bennett and Naismith had both recovered from injury to take their place in the starting 11, with Noel Hunt dropping to the bench and Christian Burgess serving a one-match ban.

There was a minute’s silence before kick-off in tribute to those affected by the recent attack in London.

Pompey soon started to dominate once the action got underway, but struggled to create too many clear-cut chances.

The best ones fell to Eoin Doyle, but twice he just failed to get on the end of teasing deliveries from Naismith.

And the on-loan Irishman was then unable to beat County keeper Joe Day from an acute angle after being slipped through by Carl Baker.

But the striker was forced off midway through the first half after picking up an injury and replaced by Conor Chaplin.

There had not been much for David Forde to worry about and when former Blues striker Ryan Bird cut the ball across the face of goal, Tom Davies and Michael Doyle combined to scramble it clear.

But it was still Pompey causing the most problems, even if Day was not exactly being over-worked between the sticks.

Bennett and Matt Clarke both had shots charged down, while a number of corners were comfortably dealt with.

The Blues did break the deadlock just before the break, however, and it was a goal that was extremely easy on the eye.

Baker intercepted the ball from Bird and slipped a superb pass through the Newport defence for BENNETT, who neatly slotted home.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Newport 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

After seeing off some Newport pressure early in the second half, the hosts went in search of another goal.

Chaplin was never really going to trouble Day with an audacious attempt from wide on the left, while Baker’s effort rose over the crossbar.

Naismith then hit a cleanly-struck free-kick straight into the keeper’s arms, as the Blues started to take control.

They almost doubled their advantage on 58 minutes, but Chaplin – who wanted the pass played earlier – could not quite convert Gareth Evans’ low cross.

But Pompey did strengthen their lead just seconds later, as Bennett found Chaplin, who neatly chipped the ball up for an unmarked NAISMITH to head into the net.

Their attacking intent did not end there, though, and Naismith saw a corner deflected into the side netting, while his second attempt was just too high for Clarke at the far post.

It was not quite one-way traffic and Naismith eventually hacked the ball clear after a County corner caused some problems.

Bennett received hearty applause from the Fratton faithful when he made way for Jamal Lowe on 71 minutes.

But it was the visiting support almost cheering when Marlon Jackson sent the ball curling towards goal, only for Forde to make a fine save.

Newport did reduce their deficit moments later, though, with Samuel rising to convert Sean Rigg’s cross from the right.

And they come close to equalising on 78 minutes as the hosts started to get sloppy, with Forde coming off his line to deny Jackson.

County’s confidence had risen and Jack Whatmough replaced Naismith as Pompey tried to shore things up.

The nerves were starting to grow inside Fratton Park and Evans did well to take the ball off the foot of Samuel as he shaped to shoot.

But the Blues saw out the closing stages with relative ease to seal a valuable victory in the battle for promotion.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Bennett (Lowe 71), Naismith (Whatmough 83); E.Doyle (Chaplin 25)
Goals: Bennett 42, Naismith 59
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Linganzi, Hunt

Newport (4-2-3-1): Day; Pipe, Jones (Randall 71), Demetriou, Butler; Labadie (c), Bennett; Samuel, Rigg, Owen-Evans (Myrie-Williams 46); Bird (Jackson 46)
Goals: Samuel 75
Booked: Rigg, Labadie, Myrie-Williams
Subs not used: Bittner, Barnum-Bobb, Nelson, Gordon

Referee: Tim Robinson

Attendance: 17,364 (322 away fans)

Mar 182017
 
League 2
Stevenage 3 – 0 Portsmouth

 

An afternoon to forget for Blues

Pompey’s promotion charge received a set-back as they collapsed to defeat at Stevenage.

Despite hitting the woodwork twice, goals from Jack King and Matt Godden meant they deservedly trailed at the break.

Jobi McAnuff then wrapped things up in the opening seconds of the second half, while a red card for Christian Burgess and missed Conor Chaplin penalty served to perfectly sum up the Blues’ afternoon.

Paul Cook made two enforced changes from the side that beat Grimsby on home soil earlier in the week.

Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith both went off injured against the Mariners, so in came Tom Davies and Noel Hunt in a switch to a 3-5-2 system.

The visitors won an early corner and Carl Baker’s delivery was headed clear, with Davies receiving a bloody nose that forced him to change into a numberless shirt.

Enda Stevens then cut the ball across the face of goal and Gareth Evans charged in to send a fierce shot thudding against the crossbar.

But it was the hosts who then started to take control and they almost broke the deadlock on 12 minutes.

David Forde dived to his right to palm clear Steven Schumacher’s well-struck free-kick and then keep out Josh McQuoid’s follow-up.

The ball again fell to McQuoid, though, and his effort had to be hacked from the line by Matt Clarke, with referee Michael Salisbury ignoring pleas from the home fans that it had crossed.

But it was only a brief respite for the Blues and when an ambitious attempt from former Fratton trainee Luke Wilkinson cannoned back off the crossbar, the ball fell kindly for King to nod home.

Pompey tried to hit back and when Stevens’ cut-back evaded both Baker and Eoin Doyle, a shot from Evans flew wildly out of the ground.

Boro were looking full of vigour, however, and after Tom Pett surged through the centre, his strike had to be saved by Forde.

And they did double their advantage on 28 minutes when McAnuff found Godden in acres of space at the back post to fire into the net.

That finally seemed to spark Pompey into life and they did finish the first half strongly, without being able to find a goal.

Baker went closest with a fine free-kick that struck the underside of the bar and hit Stevenage keeper Chris Day, only to ricochet to safety.

Another Baker set-piece on 37 minutes then just evaded the leaping Davies and landed safely into Day’s arms.

Half Time: Stevenage 2 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey would have wanted to build on that positive play just before the interval, but instead found themselves further behind within seconds of the restart.

Godden took advantage of some dithering defending to barge into a shooting position and although Forde did well to deny him, the keeper was powerless to prevent McAnuff from converting the loose ball.

The Blues tried desperately to find a route back into the contest, although their hurried play led to some sloppy moments.

They had a chance to reduce the deficit when Baker’s corner hit a defender in a crowded box and flew narrowly past the post.

But Stevenage were still looking a real threat on the counter-attack and when McAnuff picked out Godden, Davies had to get a block in.

Cook made a double substitution on 64 minutes, with Nicke Kabamba – making his senior debut – and Gary Roberts replacing Hunt and Baker.

A low delivery by Stevens then had to be cut out before it leave the lurking Eoin Doyle with a simple tap-in.

Chaplin came on for Eoin Doyle as Cook made his final throw of the dice, but the afternoon soon got worse for the Blues.

Burgess was booked for a foul and having already been carded for an earlier indiscretion, he received his marching orders.

But there was still time for more misfortune to befall Pompey as they missed an excellent opportunity to grab a consolation.

A penalty was awarded when Fraser Franks tripped Chaplin in the box, but the substitute hit his penalty down the middle and straight into Day’s arms.

That failed to dampen the noise emanating from the away end, though, as the Pompey fans kept cheering on their side despite a disappointing display.

Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day; Franks, Wilkinson, King (c), Ntlhe (Gorman 74); Pett, Lee; McQuoid (Hinds 67), Schumacher, McAnuff (Loft 88); Godden
Goals: King 16, Godden 28, McAnuff 46
Booked: Wilkinson, Pett, Gorman, Franks
Subs not used: Preston, Johnson, Tonge, McKee

Pompey (3-5-2): Forde; T.Davies, Burgess, Clarke; Evans, Baker (Roberts 64), M.Doyle (c), Rose, Stevens; Hunt (Kabamba 64), E.Doyle (Chaplin 73)
Sent off: Burgess (two yellow cards)
Booked: Stevens, Baker
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Linganzi, Lowe

Referee: Michael Salisbury

Attendance: 4,185 (1,390 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 142017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 4 – 0 Grimsby Town

 

Blues ease to home victory

Pompey brought their fine away form back to Fratton Park with a rout of Grimsby under the floodlights.

There was a touch of fortune about the first two goals, with Kyle Bennett and Danny Rose both benefiting from wicked deflections.

But it was more than luck that saw the Blues strengthen their promotion credentials, as they put their foot on the accelerator.

The points were secured with a couple more strikes either side of the interval, as first Carl Baker and then Kal Naismith got in on the fun.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that cruised to victory against Colchester at the weekend.

And he was almost rewarded with an early goal, as Baker flashed a shot narrowly over the bar soon after kick-off.

But it was Grimsby who looked more dangerous in the opening stages and Akwasi Asante saw a shot deflected narrowly wide following an untimely slip by Matt Clarke.

They went even closer moments later, with Zak Mills’ fierce long-range drive cannoning against the post.

And David Forde was soon called into action to push another decent attempt by Asante over the crossbar.

But the Blues scored against the run of play on 12 minutes, as BENNETT tried his luck from the edge of the box and the ball took a huge deflection to loop over Mariners keeper James McKeown and into the net.

From that point on the hosts dominated and Eoin Doyle could not quite connect with Gareth Evans’ dangerous low delivery.

A back-pedalling Naismith then got on the end of another Evans cross and watched as his header flew inches past the post.

The advantage was doubled on 35 minutes, however, when Bennett dummied Evans’ pass and ROSE hit a shot that took another deflection to beat McKeown.

Pompey kept pouring forward and when Baker slipped a fine ball through to Naismith, the winger’s cut-back was diverted just behind the onrushing Eoin Doyle.

There was a blow for the Blues just before the break, though, as Bennett went down injured and had to be replaced by Gary Roberts.

But the mood soon picked up and there was a third goal in stoppage-time, with BAKER collecting Evans’ pass and beating McKeown at his near post with a ferocious finish.

Half Time: Pompey 3 Grimsby 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

And it got even better for the hosts just 30 seconds after the restart when McKeown failed to hold Baker’s drive and NAISMITH slotted home the loose ball.

Pompey’s players were full of confidence and lining up to shoot against a stunned opposition defence, but the next effort from Baker ended up high in the Fratton End.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, some of the intensity went out of their performance as the half progressed.

Evans hit a clean shot on target just past the hour mark, but this time the ball was safely held by McKeown.

Pompey were dealt another injury blow on 68 minutes when Naismith signalled to come off after hurting his hamstring, with Jamal Lowe replacing him.

That failed to dampen the hosts’ dominance, though, and McKeown dived to his left to beat away Baker’s 25-yard drive.

Lowe then whipped in a cross from the right that was just behind Eoin Doyle and the on-loan striker could only head wide.

There was a jovial feel inside the stadium, with the Fratton End asking for a song from each stand – who duly obliged.

And the Blues saw out the closing stages in complete comfort to secure a third successive victory, with a third successive clean sheet.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Naismith (Lowe 68), Bennett (Roberts 45); E.Doyle (Chaplin 86)
Goals: Bennett 12, Rose 35, Baker 45+1, Naismith 46
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Hunt

Grimsby (3-5-2): McKeown; Mills, Pearson (c), Collins; Davies, Jones (Disley 57), Maxwell, Osborne (Comley 57), Andrew; Vernon, Asante (Yussuf 81)
Subs not used: Boyce, Bolarinwa, Vose, Dyson

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 16,492 (527 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 112017
 
League 2
Colchester United 0 – 4 Portsmouth

 

Blues boost promotion hopes

Pompey ran riot at Colchester to strengthen their position inside League Two’s top three.

It was a display of attacking supremacy from the Blues, who arguably deserved to win by more than the four-goal margin.

Eoin Doyle got the ball rolling during a first half that saw the visitors grow stronger as it progressed.

And they moved comfortably through the gears after the interval, as Kyle Bennett, Danny Rose and Michael Doyle all got in on the act.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that comfortably beat Crawley earlier in the week.

But it was the hosts who made the brighter start and Brennan Dickenson did well down to the left, only to let himself down with the ball into the box.

Pompey soon began to settle and threaten going forward themselves, though, with some neat attacking play.

Eoin Doyle could not quite get on the end of an excellent Carl Baker cross, while a snap-shot from Kal Naismith was safely held by Colchester keeper Sam Walker.

Then when a cross was only partially dealt with by the United defence, Enda Stevens followed up with a volley that Walker was able to collect.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on 22 minutes, with Naismith sending the ball back into the box after his corner had been blocked and Eoin DOYLE heading home from close range.

He was not too far away from adding another soon after, but could not quite get on the end of Bennett’s near-post delivery.

And the on-loan Irishman then capitalised on some hesitancy by George Elokobi to deal with Stevens’ floated pass, only to send his shot over the bar.

Meanwhile, there was little to trouble the visitors at the other end of the pitch, as they comfortably held on to their lead at the break.

Half Time: Colchester 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Colchester replaced Sammie Szmodics with Tarique Fosu at the interval in an attempt to improve their fortunes.

But instead Pompey found themselves further ahead just seconds after the restart – much to the delight of their large travelling army.

And it was BENNETT who doubled his tally for the week when, following good work down the right, Naismith selflessly squared for the winger to tuck home.

United came close to reducing their deficit moments later, but a stretching Chris Porter could not quite reach Dickenson’s cross.

But the Blues were still looking to get forward themselves and when Colchester switched off from a throw, Bennett picked the ball up and neatly side-stepped his man before blazing the shot wide.

Stevens then collected Naismith’s shot free-kick and beat a defender, only to see his arrowed drive deflected just past the post.

United were looking all at sea and it came as no surprise when Pompey extended their advantage further just past the hour mark.

Eoin Doyle did well to slide the ball through to ROSE, who saw his first shot blocked by Walker before neatly dinking home at the second attempt.

The keeper was almost caught out by Naismith moments later, but quickly back-pedalled to claw the ball clear.

Colchester had not created much at the other end and when they finally did get forward, it led to Pompey’s fourth goal.

The visitors broke quickly up the pitch from a corner, with Michael DOYLE surging forward to tuck away his first of the season after Naismith’s initial effort had been saved.

That was Naismith’s last bit of action, as he was immediately replaced by Noel Hunt, with Gary Roberts and Conor Chaplin joining him on the pitch soon after.

And there were no nerves in the closing stages as Pompey comfortably saw the game out to complete an enjoyable afternoon in Essex.

Colchester (4-2-3-1): Walker; Wright (Vincent-Young 66), James, Elokobi, Briggs; Garvan (Bonne 68), Lapslie; Murray, Szmodics (Fosu 46), Dickenson; Porter (c)
Booked: James
Subs not used: Barnes, Wynter, Kinsella, Pyke

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Naismith (Hunt 74), Bennett (Roberts 77); E.Doyle (Chaplin 84)
Goals: E.Doyle 22, Bennett 46, Rose 61, M.Doyle 73
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Lowe

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 6,504 (2,244 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC