2015/2016

May 152016
 

Match Report

League Two Play-Offs

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Plymouth Argyle 1 0 Portsmouth

Late goal denies Blues a Wembley trip

Peter Hartley struck deep into stoppage-time to condemn Pompey to another season in League Two.

The game seemed to be heading for an extra 30 minutes when the defender rose to head home a corner and break Blues hearts.

Both sides had earlier chances to score as the tie became increasingly ragged and open towards the end.

But it was Plymouth who were celebrating a 3-2 aggregate victory and trip to Wembley, while Pompey will have to go again in August.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that drew 2-2 with Argyle in the first leg at Fratton Park.

The only change came on the bench, where a fit-again Conor Chaplin replaced his namesake Wilkinson.

Both sets of supporters at a warm and sunny Home Park were anticipating another exciting, incident-packed affair following Thursday night’s drama.

But, in reality, it was much cagier contest, with the sides unwilling to take too many risks in search of a goal.

It was the hosts who started brighter, though, and Ryan Allsop pushed Graham Carey’s shot over before Jake Jervis hit a free-kick off target.

But Pompey began to get a grip as the half progressed and the lively Kyle Bennett found the side netting after cutting into the box.

Marc McNulty then latched onto a long ball forward, only to roll a tame shot straight into the arms of Luke McCormick.

The visitors were starting to dominate possession, but were unable to cause the Argyle keeper any more problems.

Gary Roberts’ cute pass for Gareth Evans was cut out, while McNulty’s effort from distance sailed high over the bar.

Pompey received a blow on 31 minutes when Evans was caught by a strong challenge from Carl McHugh.

The Plymouth midfielder was booked by referee Paul Tierney and Evans limped off to be replaced by Adam McGurk.

And the replacement was soon involved in the action, first just failing to beat McCormick to Roberts’ clever pass and then teeing-up Bennett for a shot that was scuffed wide.

The Pilgrims were struggling to see much of the ball and when they did create an opening, Jervis wasted it.

Then, with the interval approaching, Cook was forced to make another substitution. This time it was Danny Hollands who went down, with Ben Close coming on in his place.


Half Time

Plymouth Argyle 0

Portsmouth 0


Pompey were quickly out of the traps following the restart and after McNulty had bundled his way into the box, Roberts saw a shot deflected behind.

They then broke quickly up the pitch, with space opening up for the advancing McGurk, whose effort was comfortable for McCormick.

The visitors were starting to look a real threat and after Roberts was impeded 25 yards out, Ben Davies stepped up to curl a free-kick into the side netting.

It was Roberts who was next to have a go when McCormick raced from his box and made a poor clearance, but Pompey’s talisman could not steer the ball home.

Plymouth then enjoyed a decent spell of their own, with Jervis bending a shot past the post before Hiram Boateng steered Gregg Wylde’s low cross wide.

And they should have broken the deadlock on 58 minutes after McNulty over-ran the ball and Michael Doyle’s attempted clearance ricocheted into Jamille Matt’s path.

The striker bore down on goal, but went for power over accuracy and blazed his shot over the crossbar.

It was certainly more open than the first half and McGurk fired over after attempting to capitalise on a poor clearance.

And the action soon switched to the other end of the pitch, where Matt headed Carey’s corner wide from just a few yards out.

Pompey received another let off on 73 minutes when Carey’s header cannoned off Adam Barton and had to be cleared from the line by a well-placed McNulty.

They were struggling to keep hold of the ball, but did enjoy a spell of pressure late on, as Bennett beat a couple of challenges before seeing his shot deflected behind.

Plymouth could only partially clear the resulting corner and when the ball was sent back into the box, Close volleyed over.

But the hosts almost grabbed a winner on 89 minutes, only for an unmarked Jervis to head against the post after being picked out by Craig Tanner.

It was only a brief respite, however, as with just seconds remaining, Carey swung in a corner and Hartley arrived at the far post to head home.

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Sawyer; Boateng, McHugh; Jervis, Carey, Wylde (Tanner 75); Matt
Goals: Hartley 90+2
Booked: McHugh
Subs not used: Dorel, Forster, Purrington, Harvey, Rooney, Reid

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Allsop; Davies, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands (Close 44), Doyle (c); Evans (McGurk 31), Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 90+3); McNulty
Booked: Close
Subs not used: Whatmough, Haunstrup, Tollitt, Naismith

Referee: Paul Tierney

Attendance: 15,011 (1,696 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC

May 122016
 

===

Match Report

League Two Play-Offs

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Portsmouth 2 2 Plymouth Argyle

McNulty and Roberts on target

Pompey and Plymouth could not be separated in an absorbing first leg play-off contest at a packed Fratton Park.

Marc McNulty’s early strike got the Blues off to a dream opening, only for Jamille Matt’s brace to turn the game on its head.

Argyle’s forward escaped a red card following a tussle with Michael Doyle in between those two goals.

But the hosts grabbed an equaliser in the second half, courtesy of Gary Roberts’ confidently-taken spot-kick.

Paul Cook made seven changes from the side that narrowly lost to champions Northampton at the weekend.

One of them took everyone by surprise, with a goalkeeping injury crisis seeing Ryan Allsop signed on loan from Bournemouth and thrown straight into the team.

There were also returns for Christian Burgess and Enda Stevens at the back, Danny Hollands and skipper Doyle in midfield, and Kyle Bennett and McNulty in attack.

The game began at a frenetic pace and there was plenty of controversy to spice up the first half on the south coast.

But the Blues made an excellent start by breaking the deadlock after just three minutes.

Doyle stole possession from Curtis Nelson and the ball feel kindly for McNULTY to drive into the net.

The hosts set about trying to double their advantage, but Luke McCormick did well to claim a dangerous cross from Stevens.

Instead Plymouth found soon themselves level, with Gregg Wylde sending the ball into the mix and Matt beating Allsop to head home from close range.

The Argyle striker was arguably fortunate to stay on the pitch moments later, after appearing to headbutt Doyle following a scuffle between the pair.

Cook was livid on the sidelines and his reaction saw him sent to the stands by referee Oliver Langford, quickly followed by Plymouth first team coach Paul Wotton.

And Matt soon added salt to the wound by firing the visitors ahead, controlling Kelvin Mellor’s long throw and sending an acrobatic over-head effort looping into the net.

There were then half-chances at both ends as the game continued at a breathless pace, with Hollands firing wide before Graham Carey’s effort fizzed narrowly off target.

Pompey were pushing for a leveller and it took a fine challenge by Peter Hartley to dispossess Gareth Evans in the box as the winger prepared to shoot.

McNulty was next to go close, but his fierce effort flew narrowly wide following good link-up play between Burgess and Roberts.

Both sides certainly looked capable of adding to the scoring and some Pilgrims fans thought their side had when Carey’s free-kick hit the side netting.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Plymouth Argyle 2


Pompey went straight on the attack after the interval and Evans hit one effort over before Bennett saw his shot blocked.

And the hosts were level on 51 minutes after Langford pointed to the spot for a foul on McNulty by Hartley.

The Plymouth defender was shown a yellow card before ROBERTS stepped up to emphatically fire home the penalty.

McCormick then had to make sure he held Evans’ cross from the right, with Roberts waiting to pounce at the far post.

And the Argyle keeper also made a decent stop to deny McNulty following a quick Blues break, although an unmarked Bennett was screaming for the ball to his left.

The hosts made their first switch just past the hour mark and it was Bennett who was withdrawn for Kal Naismith.

He was soon involved in the action, but could not quite get on the end of Evans’ teasing cross from the right.

Pompey were dominating possession by this point and forcing their opponents to sit deeper, but the Pilgrims defence were holding firm.

McNulty was withdrawn on 81 minutes, with Adam McGurk given a chance to impress up front.

It was Ben Davies who had a chance to fire them in front soon after, however, with McCormick forced to save at his near post.

But, with the game ending 2-2, the outcome was still very much up in the air as the sides prepare to do battle once more at Home Park on Sunday.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Allsop; Davies, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 62); McNulty (McGurk 81)
Goals: McNulty 3, Roberts 51 (pen)
Booked: Hollands, Barton
Subs not used: Whatmough, Haunstrup, Close, Tollitt, Wilkinson

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Sawyer; McHugh, Boateng (Purrington 80); Jervis, Carey, Wylde; Matt (Tanner 90+1)
Goals: Matt 9, 19
Booked: Carey, Hartley, Sawyer, Purrington
Subs not used: Dorel, Forster, Harvey, Rooney, Reid

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 17,622 (1,902 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

May 072016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Portsmouth 1 2 Northampton Town

Freeman sent off as Blues lose to champions

Pompey will host Plymouth in the first leg of the play-offs on Thursday evening after losing 2-1 to Northampton.

The champions took the lead through Jack Whatmough’s unfortunate own-goal in the opening stages.

Kieron Freeman then received his marching orders for a late challenge, only for a Kal Naismith stunner to draw the hosts level.

A series of attacking substitutions were made as the Blues searched for a winner, but instead James Collins secured all three points for the Cobblers.

Paul Cook made five changes from the side that won at Hartlepool the previous week.

Whatmough was handed his first start for more than a year in the centre of defence, with fellow academy graduates Brandon Haunstrup and Ben Close also featuring.

Ben Davies returned and skippered the side in place of Michael Doyle, while Adam McGurk came in up front.

Meanwhile, former Pompey players Ricky Holmes and John Marquis led the line for the visitors, who were afforded a guard of honour as they entered the pitch.

There were a plethora of awards handed out before kick-off, with Ben Davies picking up six from various supporters’ groups.

But it was Doyle who was named The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season – and the reaction from the fans indicated that it was deserved recognition.

Both sets of supporters then paid their respects to all the Blues fans who have sadly passed away over the past year with a minute’s applause.

Once the action got underway at a warm and sunny – and packed – Fratton Park, it was the visitors who looked more threatening.

Whatmough had to deal with a couple of dangerous crosses as a new-look Pompey side struggled for fluency.

But they were not too far away from opening the scoring on 12 minutes, with Adam McGurk flinging himself at Naismith’s cross and not quite making a clean connection.

Almost immediately, however, they found themselves behind as Whatmough inadvertently sliced Nicky Adams’ cross into his own net.

Pompey were not really playing with a recognised striker, as Gary Roberts occupied a ‘false number nine’ role, flanked by Naismith and McGurk.

They did start to create more as the half progressed, though, with McGurk curling a shot over and Naismith steering narrowly wide.

But Northampton still looked dangerous themselves and Marquis might have done better than firing wildly over after being picked out by Holmes.

Pompey should have been level on 33 minutes following a good move that started with a poor clearance from Cobblers keeper Adam Smith.

Roberts picked the ball up and it soon found its way, via Freeman, to Davies down the right flank.

The full-back sent in a low cross, but Smith redeemed himself by somehow denying Naismith from point-blank range.

Roberts then collected a lovely pass over the top from Close and spotted Smith off his line, although he could not quite chip the ball over the back-pedalling keeper.

Both sides picked up a booking before the break, with Davies and Lawson D’Ath penalised for fouls on Holmes and Haunstrup respectively.


Half Time

Portsmouth 0

Northampton Town 1


Pompey’s hopes of getting anything from the game were dealt a massive blow just after the restart when they were reduced to 10 men.

Freeman slid in to try to win the ball and although he did not really catch John-Joe O’Toole, referee Mark Brown decided it was dangerous.

He immediately brandished a red card to rule the on-loan Sheffield United utility man out of the play-offs.

But the hosts found themselves level just seconds later – thanks to a strike right out of the top drawer.

There did not look much on when NAISMITH advanced goalwards, but he hit a stunning, swerving 35-yard strike that arrowed into the net.

Cook was forced to make his first substitution on the hour mark, as Close limped off to be replaced by Adam May.

Haunstrup then had the ball in the back of the net, but Brown had already blown his whistle for a foul on Smith by McGurk.

Northampton soon enjoyed a period of pressure, with Marquis denied by Brian Murphy before Alfie Potter fired into the side netting.

Cook made an attacking switch on 69 minutes, as Conor Wilkinson replaced Whatmough for his debut.

That resulted in a defensive reshuffle which saw Gareth Evans drop to right-back and Davies move into the centre.

And Naismith was soon employed at left-back when Haunstrup made way for Ben Tollitt on 77 minutes.

Pompey now had an abundance of attack-minded players on the pitch, but the visitors soon made their numerical advantage count to retake the lead.

Cobblers skipper David Buchanan swung the ball into the box and Collins got a faint touch to turn it home.

Naismith tried to draw the Blues level with another attempt from long-range, but this time Smith dived across goal to make the save.

And Pompey were unable to find a late leveller as the visitors secured victory to cap a memorable campaign.

But plenty of fans still stayed behind to salute the Blues as they returned to the pitch after the final whistle for a lap of appreciation.

Pompey (4-3-3): Murphy; Davies (c), Whatmough (Wilkinson 69), Barton, Haunstrup (Tollitt 77); Freeman, Close (May 60), Evans; McGurk, Roberts, Naismith
Goals: Naismith 48
Sent off: Freeman
Booked: Davies, McGurk, Evans
Subs not used: Jones, Stevens, Doyle, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Northampton (4-4-2): Smith; Lelan, Diamond, Prosser, Buchanan (c); D’Ath (Hoskins 80), O’Toole, Rose, Adams (Potter 62); Marquis (Collins 67), Holmes
Goals: Whatmough 13 (og), Collins 81
Booked: D’Ath
Subs not used: Clarke, Cresswell, Taylor, Byrom

Referee: Mark Brown

Attendance: 18,746 (2,807 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Apr 262016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

AFC Wimbledon 0 1 Portsmouth

Michael Smith scored the only goal as Pompey won at AFC Wimbledon to guarantee a top-seven finish.

The striker fired home in the first half to settle a match that became extremely stretched in stages.

The Blues had chances to make it a more comfortable finale, but were not made to pay for their profligacy.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that beat Wycombe at the weekend.

Adam Barton was deployed as an emergency centre-back in place of the injured Matt Clarke (groin).

Marc McNulty (hamstring) made way for Smith up front, while Ben Davies dropped to the bench, with Kieron Freeman coming in at right-back.

Kyle Bennett (ankle), Conor Chaplin (groin), Ryan Fulton (thigh), Adam Webster (ankle), Jack Whatmough (back) and Conor Wilkinson (groin) were also sidelined for the visitors.

That meant teenage academy graduates Adam May and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain were named among the substitutes.

It was a fairly even affair in the opening stages, with both sides looking to get forward, but neither managing to carve out many clear-cut openings.

The best fell to the hosts after eight minutes, but an unmarked Darius Charles guided his header straight at Paul Jones after meeting Callum Kennedy’s corner.

It was a similar story at the other end of the pitch, where Gareth Evans could only divert Freeman’s cross safely into the arms of Kelle Roos.

Gary Roberts then rightly picked up the game’s first booking for a mis-timed challenge on former Pompey winger Andy Barcham.

Team-mate Smith and Tom Elliott, however, seemed rather harshly punished when referee Andy Madley brandished yellow cards to both of them.

But SMITH – just like the large travelling support – was celebrating on 35 minutes when he broke the deadlock.

The home fans thought that Roberts had fouled Sean Rigg in the build-up, but Madley was uninterested and the midfielder fed Smith for a calm finish.

And the striker had the ball in the net again moments later, but this time an infringement was spotted and the goal ruled out.

There was not too many opportunities in a frantic end to the half, although the Pompey fans made their own entertainment by serenading Roberts.


Half Time

AFC Wimbledon 0

Portsmouth 1


There was a surprise at the start of the second half, when Brian Murphy emerged to take Jones’ place between the sticks.

He did well to claim a high ball after the Blues had failed to deal with Barry Fuller’s cross while, moments earlier, Barcham flashed a shot narrowly over.

The visitors had a chance at the other end after ex-Pompey skipper Paul Robinson had been booked for a challenge on Kal Naismith.

He was then picked out by Roberts at the far post, but the winger’s fierce drive was parried clear by Dons keeper Roos.

AFC Wimbledon were causing problems from set-pieces, though, and a free-kick was eventually scrambled clear before a corner was headed over by Elliott.

Another flag-kick then found Charles at the far post, but he headed the ball into the turf and it bounced over the bar.

And Barcham really should have punished his former side just past the hour mark, drilling a shot wide after bursting through on goal.

But Pompey missed a gilt-edged chance of their own on 72 minutes, when Roberts hurriedly shot over despite having time after collecting Evans’ pass.

And, with the Dons committing men forward, they soon had another decent opening, with Fuller well-placed on the line to stop Naismith scoring from point-blank range.

Then, just seconds later, Roberts charged through on goal, but with just Roos to beat, he sent his shot wide.

AFC Wimbledon tried to make their opponents pay for their missed chances, although Connor Smith only received a yellow card for trying to win a penalty.

And the Blues saw out the final few moments to secure all three points and leave the Dons still looking to confirm their spot in the play-offs.

AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Roos; Fuller (c), Robinson, Charles, Kennedy; Rigg (Reeves 46), Bulman, Smith, Barcham (Murphy 75); Taylor, Elliott (Azeez 68)
Booked: Elliott, Robinson, Smith
Subs not used: Shea, Sweeney, Fitzpatrick, Akinfenwa

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones (Murphy 46); Freeman, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Naismith; Smith
Goals: Smith 35
Booked: Roberts, Smith
Subs not used: Davies, Haunstrup, Close, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, McGurk

Referee: Andy Madley

Attendance: 4,799 (911 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC

Apr 232016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

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

Portsmouth 1

Wycombe Wanderers 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
Booked: Chaplin
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)

Portsmouth FC

Apr 162016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Portsmouth 1 2 Plymouth Argyle

Late goals stun Blues

Pompey were left shell-shocked after somehow managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Plymouth.

Michael Smith’s first half header looked to have wrapped up the points against their promotion rivals at a packed Fratton Park.

The hosts were comfortably holding on for a valuable win, only for Jamille Matt and Gregg Wylde to turn the game on its head late on.

Paul Cook, unsurprisingly, stuck with a winning side, naming the same starting 11 for a fourth match in succession.

There was a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland, with the centenary of the naval battle approaching.

It was the visitors who got off to a brighter start when the game started and they had two good chances in the opening stages.

They both came from corners, with the first headed against the inside of the post by Carl McHugh on four minutes.

It was centre-back Peter Hartley who connected with this second, but Enda Stevens was well stationed on the post to clear the danger.

But Pompey grew stronger as the half progressed, putting their opponents under the cosh by pressing high up the pitch.

The home fans were baying for a red card when Argyle keeper Luke McCormick slid out of the box with the ball in his hands, but referee Christopher Sarginson rightly opted for a yellow one.

Kyle Bennett teed-up a chance for Michael Doyle on 29 minutes, but the skipper bent his effort narrowly wide.

Gary Roberts then showed great footwork just inside the box, only to see his shot curl onto the roof of the net.

There was a bit of needle creeping into the game as the interval approached, with a few niggly challenges.

But Fratton Park erupted on 37 minutes when the build-up of Pompey pressure finally resulted in a goal.

It was SMITH who scored it, stooping to head the ball into the bottom corner after Matt Clarke had sent a cross into the box.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Plymouth Aryle 0


The scrappy element of the contest was on display again early in the second half, with Doyle and Hartley both booked for fouls.

It was the Blues who had the first opening following the restart after the Pilgrims failed to properly deal with Stevens’ low delivery.

The ball fell to the tireless Danny Hollands on the edge of the box and his low drive was deflected inches past the post.

Plymouth were opened up with another neat move just past the hour mark, but after Roberts had flicked Doyle’s pass into Stevens’ path, the left-back lifted a shot over the bar.

Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with Adam McGurk making way for Gareth Evans wide on the right.

And the hosts almost doubled their advantage moments later, with Christian Burgess turning Bennett’s free-kick wide from close range.

Plymouth had not threatened since the break, but Paul Jones was called into action on 72 minutes, diving to his right to turn Graham Carey’s shot around the post.

A second substitution soon followed, as Marc McNulty came on for Roberts in the Blues’ attack.

There were a few nervy moments as the seconds ticked down, but Pompey were looking dangerous on the break, with Smith firing one shot wide and seeing another saved by McCormick.

But Argyle deflated the vibrant mood around the ground by levelling on 84 minutes, with Matt heading in Carey’s corner.

And it was Carey who provided the assist for Plymouth’s second goal moments later, clipping the ball back for Wylde to slam home.

There was hope of salvaging something from the game when the fourth official displayed five minutes of stoppage-time.

But despite throwing on an extra forward in the shape of Conor Chaplin, Pompey were unable to find a leveller.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies (Chaplin 89), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 67), Roberts (McNulty 76), Bennett; Smith
Goals: Smith 37
Booked: Doyle, Burgess
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Naismith

Plymouth (4-diamond-2): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Purrington (Wylde 70); Carey, McHugh, Houghton, Boateng; Jervis (Reid 78), Matt
Goals: Matt 84, Wylde 86
Booked: McCormick, McHugh, Hartley
Subs not used: Dorel, Bentley, Tanner, Harvey, Rooney

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 18,423 (2,405 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Apr 092016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Dagenham & Redbridge 1 4 Portsmouth

Doyle, Burgess, Evans and Bennett on target for Blues

Pompey fought from behind to beat Dagenham and charge right back into the automatic promotion race.

It looked like being a miserable afternoon in the capital when Ashley Hemmings’ goal ensured the hosts would go in ahead at the break.

But the mood improved in the second half, with Michael Doyle volleying in the equaliser before Christian Burgess headed the Blues into the lead.

Gareth Evans then came off the bench to add his name to the scoresheet late on, with Kyle Bennett capping off a memorable 45 minutes of football.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat both Notts County and Carlisle at Fratton Park.

And there was plenty of anticipation among the 1,659 away fans who had made the journey up from the south coast.

But there was not much to excite them in a drab opening to the contest, with neither side looking particularly threatening.

The visitors had a couple of half chances and Daggers keeper Mark Cousins was forced to race from his line to stop Gary Roberts racing onto Adam McGurk’s hooked pass.

Bennett was then neatly released by Enda Stevens down the left, bursting into the box and seeing a shot blocked.

Their best opening arrived on 23 minutes, however, when the hosts failed to deal with a Ben Davies free-kick.

Bennett picked the ball up and floated a cross to the far post, where it was headed clear by Oliver Muldoon, only for Danny Hollands to send a 25-yard volley flying narrowly over the bar.

But that only seemed to spark Dagenham into life and finally create some chances of their own.

Paul Jones did well to deny Matty Cash from point-blank range after the ball had flown through a sea of bodies.

But he could not prevent League Two’s basement side from breaking the deadlock on 34 minutes.

Justin Hoyte’s free-kick was headed on by Christian Doidge for Hemmings, whose acrobatic over-head effort looped over the keeper and into the net.

Dagenham should really have doubled the advantage moments later, but an unmarked Hoyte headed Josh Passley’s cross over.

Pompey were struggling to find any fluency in their forward play, although Michael Smith did hammer a shot narrowly wide just before the break.


Half Time

Dagenham & Redbridge 1

Portsmouth 0


The visitors had an early chance to draw level when former Blues loanee Passley was penalised for a handball.

Roberts sent a decent delivery into the box, but Matt Clarke could only head it over as he arrived at the far post.

Pompey were unsurprisingly now playing with a lot more urgency and one quick break ended in Davies’ cross having to be cleared behind by Clevid Dikamona.

And the travelling support finally had something to cheer as their side drew level with a fine goal just before the hour mark.

Roberts collected a long ball down the left from Stevens and pinged in a cross that DOYLE met with a fine low volley from just inside the box.

Pompey were not done there, however, and soon heaped more pressure on their shell-shocked opponents.

Bennett was next to threaten after being fed by Smith, but his effort caught a deflection and bobbled wide.

There was an almighty scramble from the resulting corner that ended with Davies sending in a fierce cross that nobody could connect with.

But Dagenham soon caused some concern at the other end, with Stevens forced to hack clear a corner from the line and Oliver Muldoon’s follow-up then held by Jones.

The mood of the Blues support soon switched from concern to joy, however, as the visitors took the lead on 68 minutes.

Davies was fouled wide on the right and Bennett’s free-kick was met by BURGESS, who glanced home a fine header.

Cook made his first switch with 10 minutes remaining, as Evans added some fresh legs to the attack by replacing McGurk.

And it was EVANS who secured the victory when he stole in to head home Bennett’s free-kick from close range.

But there was still time for the result to become even more emphatic as BENNETT deservedly got a goal of his own, jinking into the box before slamming a shot past Cousins.

Dagenham & Redbridge (4-1-4-1): Cousins; Hoyte, Hyam, Dikamona, Widdowson; Muldoon (Cureton 69); Passley (Hawkins 75), Labadie (c), Cash (Boucaud 75), Hemmings; Doidge
Goals: Hemmings 34
Booked: Passley, Doidge, Hoyte
Subs not used: Moore, Pennell, Chambers, McClure

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 80), Roberts (McNulty 89), Bennett (Naismith 89); Smith
Goals: Doyle 59, Burgess 68, Evans 85, Bennett 88
Booked: Doyle, Smith, Clarke
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Chaplin

Referee: Lee Collins

Attendance: 3,122 (1,659 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC

Apr 022016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Portsmouth 1 0 Carlisle United

Smith grabs winner for Blues

Michael Smith was on target as Pompey saw off Carlisle to make it back-to-back victories.

Following a slow first half, the Blues were much better after the break and created a number of opportunities.

They were only able to take one – with Smith sliding home from a tight angle – but that proved enough to claim all three points.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that comprehensively beat Notts County on Good Friday.

And they got off to an encouraging start as Gary Roberts met Adam McGurk’s cross, only to see his goal-bound header blocked before it could reach its intended target.

Kyle Bennett then sent in a decent delivery following good work down the left, but it was headed clear and Danny Hollands’ volleyed the loose ball over.

And Ben Davies was not too far away when he attempted a free-kick from 35 yards, curling the ball narrowly past the post.

Carlisle’s first proper chance arrived on 14 minutes and Mark Ellis should have at least hit the target when he was found in space inside the box.

There were not an abundance of chances to get the crowd of their feet, although the hosts were trying their best to up the tempo with some pressing high up the pitch.

United keeper Mark Gillespie did well to claim the ball just underneath his crossbar after Enda Stevens’ cross took a wicked deflection off Tom Miller.

Jason Kennedy had a couple of chances at the other end of the pitch, but dragged one effort wide before failing to find the target from a tight angle.

And, just before the break, Stevens received the first booking of the game following a crude lunge on Brandon Comley.


Half Time

Portsmouth 0

Carlisle United 0


The Blues came quickly out of the traps, but Gillespie claimed Christian Burgess’ dangerous cross and then saved Bennett’s shot at his near post.

And it was another effort from Bennett that led to the hosts breaking the deadlock on 57 minutes.

After some patient passing build-up, the winger’s curler from the edge of the box was spilled by Gillespie and SMITH forced the ball home from an acute angle.

Pompey might have added another moments later, but Roberts could not get enough power on his shot and it was comfortably saved.

There was still an attritional element to proceedings, however, with plenty of fouls to break up the flow of the game.

Carlisle threw on a couple of extra strikers in Derek Asamoah and Jabo Ibehre to try to find a leveller.

But the Blues were inches away from doubling their advantage following a quick counter-attack on 79 minutes.

Paul Jones punched a corner clear and Pompey broke up the pitch, with Michael Doyle and Roberts combining to tee-up McGurk, who burst through on goal and fired against the base of the post.

And both sides then had excellent chances to add to the scoring in a hectic couple of minutes.

First, Smith was denied by a fine save by Gillespie, with Danny Grainger getting across quickly to stop McGurk converting the loose ball.

United immediately went up the other end of the pitch, where Hallam Hope somehow failed to connect with Derek Asamoah’s cross at the far post.

It was Pompey who looked the more likely to score in the closing stages, but Jabo Ibehre wasted a great chance to level at the death when he hooked over from inside the box.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (McNulty 89), Roberts (Naismith 86), Bennett (Evans 90+3); Smith
Goals: Smith 57
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Fulton, Webster, Close, Chaplin

Carlisle (4-2-3-1): Gillespie; Miller, Raynes, Ellis (Ibehre 77), Grainger (c); Comley (Asamoah 68), Joyce; Stacey (Gilliead 59), Kennedy, Hope; Wyke
Booked: Raynes
Subs not used: Hanford, Atkinson, Gillesphey, Sweeney

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 15,416 (361 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Mar 252016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Portsmouth 4 0 Notts County

Pompey roared back into form and ensured it was a very Good Friday with a convincing victory over Notts County at Fratton Park.

Kyle Bennett struck either side of the interval, with a couple of goals that were extremely easy on the eye.

Christian Burgess then opened his account for the club before Marc McNulty came off the bench to add an extra gloss to the scoreline.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that drew at Mansfield the previous week.

Paul Jones was recalled from his Crawley loan to replace Ryan Fulton – who had been called up to the Scotland under-21 side – between the sticks.

There were also starts for Gary Roberts, Adam McGurk and Matt Clarke, with McNulty, Kal Naismith and Adam Webster dropping to the bench.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s silence in memory of former Pompey left-back Jack Mansell – who passed away last week – and the victims of the attacks in Brussels.

When the game got underway, the hosts made a bright start to match the fine conditions on the south coast.

And Michael Bull earned the ire of the Fratton faithful for not awarding their side a penalty after just a three minutes.

It looked a clear foul from Haydn Hollis on Ben Davies as the right-back charged into the box, but the referee was not convinced.

However, the first half was ultimately a scrappy affair, with plenty of fouls interrupting the flow of the game.

Stanley Aborah collected the first booking for a late challenge on Michael Smith, not that it stopped the midfielder from getting involved in a few more dubious challenges.

There were not too many shots to trouble either of the goalkeepers, with Curtis Thompson seeing his dangerous run eventually halted before McGurk sent a header over the bar.

It was Roberts who had the first decent chance from the edge of the box on 34 minutes, but his effort flew comfortably into the arms of Scott Loach.

Pompey did break the deadlock just before the break, however, thanks to an impressive solo goal from BENNETT.

The winger collected Enda Stevens’ pass down the left and beat Elliott Hewitt with ease before cutting inside and firing past Loach.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Notts County 0


The hosts probably should have doubled their advantage just after the restart, but McGurk somehow failed to connect with Davies’ free-kick from wide on the right.

But their second goal did arrive on 49 minutes – and it was a joy to behold.

Roberts displayed a moment of class to send BENNETT clear through and he calmly slotted the ball past Loach and into the net.

And Roberts then tried to add an audacious third with a cute lob from wide on the right that drifted narrowly over.

But the visitors were almost gifted a way back into the game on the hour mark when Jones dropped Curtis Thompson’s cross, only to pounce on the ball before Jon Stead could poke it home.

Pompey were soon back on the attack, though, and it took a brave block from former England international Alan Smith to deny his namesake Michael.

Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with the tiring McGurk making way for Naismith out wide.

With a comfortable lead, it was a more patient display from the hosts, but they still looked the more dangerous side.

And the home fans did have a third goal to cheer on 81 minutes when BURGESS converted Enda Stevens’ cross from close range to open his Blues account.

That was the cue to bring on Conor Chaplin and McNulty for the impressive duo of Smith and Roberts.

And it was McNULTY who wrapped up a memorable victory in stoppage-time when he headed Davies’ free-kick into the top corner.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Naismith 67), Roberts (McNulty 84), Bennett; Smith (Chaplin 84)
Goals: Bennett 44, 49, Burgess 81, McNulty 90+1
Booked: Hollands
Subs not used: Bass, Webster, Close, Evans

Notts County (3-5-2): Loach; Boyce (Atkinson 58), Smith (Campbell 75), Hollis; Hewitt, Thompson, Aborah (Burke 58), Noble, Milsom; McLeod, Stead (c)
Booked: Aborah, Milsom, Thompson, Smith, McLeod
Subs not used: Pilkington, Sharpe, Edwards, Murray

Referee: Michael Bull

Attendance: 16,670 (485 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Mar 192016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Mansfield Town 1 1 Portsmouth

Tafazolli own-goal secures Blues a point

Marc McNulty missed a penalty as Pompey fought from behind to claim a point at Mansfield.

It looked bleak for the Blues when, within the space of a few minutes, McNulty saw his spot-kick saved and Matt Green slotted the hosts ahead.

But Ryan Tafazolli’s own-goal levelled the contest before the interval and neither side was able to take any of their second half chances.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side beaten at home by Newport the previous week.

One of them was enforced, with Michael Smith replacing the suspended Gary Roberts, while Gareth Evans dropped to the bench to make way for Kal Naismith.

There was not an abundance of chances in the early stages, although the hosts survived a defensive mix-up early on, while Mitchell Rose was unable to beat Ryan Fulton with an angled drive.

Pompey’s keeper then had to race from his area to clear after a blocked Christian Burgess shot turned into a quick Stags attack.

Set-pieces were causing the most problems for both sides, with Mansfield delivering some dangerous free-kicks and the Blues threatening from corners.

But it was penalty that gave the visitors a golden opportunity to break the deadlock on 20 minutes.

McNulty was brought down in the box by former Pompey loanee Daniel Alfei, but his spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Scott Shearer low to the keeper’s left.

And the Stags soon made him pay for his profligacy by taking the lead themselves, as Emmanuel Dieseruvwe teed-up Green for a cool finish.

Referee Carl Boyeson upset the mood of the home fans, however, by issuing a flurry of yellow cards, not that Dieseruvwe, Rose or Green could have much to complain about.

Pompey, meanwhile, were trying to find a leveller, but despite some neat passing forward, they were doing little to trouble Shearer.

Instead, the keeper was finally beaten by one of his team-mates just before the break, with TAFAZOLLI inadvertently turning a Ben Davies corner into his own net.


Half Time

Mansfield Town 1

Portsmouth 1


The second half was slow to get going, although it was the Blues were looking the more likely to score again.

But they were limited to a couple of scuffed efforts from Enda Stevens and Smith that did little to trouble Shearer.

Kyle Bennett went closer on 65 minutes when he met Davies’ corner with a volley that was heading for the net before it was deflected wide.

The visitors had a chance of their own when Stevens was booked for a foul on Dieseruvwe, but the resulting free-kick was confidently plucked from the air by Fulton.

Cook soon made his first substitution, with Ben Tollitt replacing Bennett wide on the left to add some youthful exuberance to Pompey’s attack.

And the Blues boss made another switch to his front line moments later, with McNulty making way for Adam McGurk.

The hosts had been growing in confidence as the half progressed and almost retook the lead on 62 minutes.

Fulton had to get down to his right to push clear Rose’s skidding, long-range effort and then denied Green from the resulting corner.

His counterpart Shearer had looked assured in the Stags goal, but almost made a hash of Michael Doyle’s opportunistic strike from distance on 77 minutes.

There was then a break in play when one of the linesmen appeared to injure his arm and had to be replaced – not that he received much sympathy from the stands.

Conor Chaplin was introduced in place of Naismith for the final five minutes, as Pompey went in search of a winner.

But, despite the fourth official announcing six minutes of stoppage-time, neither side was able to snatch victory.

Mansfield (4-4-2): Shearer; Alfei, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning; Rose (Daniel 86), Collins (c), Clements, Kavanagh (Blair 64); Green (Thomas 83), Dieseruvwe
Goals: Green 26
Booked: Dieseruvwe, Rose, Green
Subs not used: Jensen, Baxendale, Chapman, Beardsley

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Naismith (Chaplin 85), McNulty (McGurk 70), Bennett (Tollitt 67); Smith
Goals: Tafazolli 43 (og)
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Evans

Referee: Carl Boyeson

Attendance: 3,980 (1,192 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC

Mar 082016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Accrington Stanley 1 3 Portsmouth

Pompey roared back into the automatic promotion race with a convincing victory at high-flying Accrington.

It was a scintillating first half performance – and one particular moment of brilliance – that did the damage.

Kyle Bennett ensured that the Blues made the most of their early dominance by firing them ahead and Matty Pearson’s unfortunate own-goal added to the travelling supporters’ glee.

But they were even happier when a stunning strike from Michael Doyle secured the three points before the interval.

Shay McCartan did grab a late consolation for the hosts, but that failed to dampen the mood of those making the long trip home to the south coast.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that won at Stevenage at the weekend.

It was a straight swap up front, with Michael Smith coming in to lead the line and Marc McNulty dropping to the bench.

Pompey totally dominated the first half, with Gary Roberts pulling the strings for the visitors in midfield.

He even tried a cheeky attempt from just inside the opposition half after just four minutes, although the shot did not overly trouble Jason Mooney in the Stanley goal.

Roberts went closer moments later, though, meeting Ben Davies’ cross with a near-post header that flew into the keeper’s arms.

And he was involved when the Blues did deservedly break the deadlock midway through the first half.

Roberts linked up well down the left with Gareth Evans and when the latter’s low cross was only partially cleared, BENNETT drilled home a low shot off the inside of the post.

Accrington were not causing too many problems at the other end, although Ryan Fulton did make a regulation save to deny Billy Kee.

The visitors were soon back on the attack, however, and Doyle rattled the crossbar with a fierce shot after shaking off a clumsy challenge from Matt Crooks.

Pompey deserved to forge further ahead, but the second goal on 36 minutes did arrive in fortunate fashion.

Danny Hollands picked out Davies with a fine cross-field pass and the right-back’s low delivery was inadvertently turned into his own net by PEARSON.

Piero Mingoia prevented things from getting even worse for the hosts when he just about got to Smith’s cross before Bennett could reach it.

But there was nothing that anybody could do to keep out Pompey’s third goal just before the break.

It was a goal of the season contender from DOYLE, who lashed in an unstoppable 25-yard volley after a free-kick was not properly dealt with.

The Blues skipper was mobbed by his team-mates, while even the beleaguered home support applauded a moment of magic.


Half Time

Accrington Stanley 0

Portsmouth 3


Accrington replaced skipper Seamus Conneely with Scott Brown in an attempt to get back into the game.

It was still the visitors causing more problems, though, and Pearson had to turn a dangerous Bennett cross behind before it could reach the lurking Smith.

But the Stanley centre-back then almost grabbed his second own-goal of the evening while trying to deal with Davies’ cross, with Mooney just about managing to divert the ball over.

The hosts were looking more of a threat since the restart and there were half-chances for both McCartan and Kee.

Pompey were also proving dangerous going forward, however, and Smith turned Enda Stevens’ low cross narrowly wide on the hour mark.

Cook made his first switch on 73 minutes, with the hard-working Smith making way for McNulty up front.

He then replaced one former Accrington player with another, as Kal Naismith came on for the impressive Roberts.

And Naismith immediately looked to add to the Blues’ lead when he burst forward down the right, but was unable to bend his shot past Mooney.

Pompey looked to be coasting to the final whistle, but Stanley did reduce the deficit when McCartan spun inside the area and slammed the ball home.

That raised a few nerves, but Doyle almost calmed them when Mooney’s clearance landed at his feet and the midfielder’s effort from the halfway line was only just scrambled away by the keeper.

But the Blues had already done enough to secure all three points and leapfrog their opponents into fourth spot.

Accrington (4-2-3-1): Mooney; Wakefield, Davies, Pearson, Halliday; Crooks, Conneely (c) (Brown 46); Mingoia (Boco 67), McCartan, McConville (Shaw 67); Kee
Goals: McCartan 83
Subs not used: Hughes, Procter, Carver, Steenson

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Naismith 78), Bennett (Freeman 83); Smith (McNulty 73)
Goals: Bennett 22, Pearson 36 (og), Doyle 43
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Chaplin

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 1,841 (584 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC

Mar 052016
 

Match Report

League Two

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Stevenage 0 2 Portsmouth

Marc McNulty and Kal Naismith were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways at Stevenage.

Gary Roberts teed-up McNulty to open the scoring midway through the first half and send the large travelling support wild with delight.

And Naismith then came off the bench to double their advantage and secure a maximum haul of points at the Lamex Stadium.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that drew at Exeter earlier in the week.

A fit-again Roberts was thrown straight into the starting line-up following a hamstring injury, while Gareth Evans also returned.

Conor Chaplin and Naismith both dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Michael Smith, who had recovered from a calf problem.

Pompey started the game with plenty of attacking impetus and Evans was inches away from meeting an excellent Ben Davies delivery after just three minutes.

Roberts was then unable to force the ball home after Stevenage stopper Jamie Jones had flapped at another cross from the marauding right-back.

And Roberts had another chance soon after, but his long-range effort was comfortably kept out by Jones.

The Blues were dominating the opening exchanges, but Boro came close to forging ahead on 19 minutes after winning a series of corners.

The last of them fell to Michael Tonge inside the box, with the midfielder hooking the ball over his head, but also over the crossbar.

Pompey were soon back down the other end of the pitch and period of extended pressure ended with Evans having an effort blocked.

But they did break the deadlock on 22 minutes after Roberts did well to steal possession in the middle of the pitch.

He slid a precise pass through to McNULTY, who latched onto the ball and confidently slotted home to take his individual tally into double figures.

The game lost some of its sparkle after that, becoming a scrappy affair that was punctuated by plenty of free-kicks.

Tom Conlon glanced a header narrowly wide for the hosts, while Lee Cox was unable to find the target from the edge of the box.

But the Blues ended the half on a high and Evans sent a low drive rolling inches past the post before Roberts headed wide from an Enda Stevens cross.


Half Time

Stevenage 0

Portsmouth 1


Pompey survived a scare early in the second half after Christian Burgess was penalised for a foul on Conlon just outside the box.

The Stevenage midfielder picked himself up to take the free-kick and saw his curling effort tipped over by Fulton.

That aside, however, it had been fairly uneventful since the restart, with little happening to excite a flat crowd.

Roberts brought the game back to life on 58 minutes, however, when he dispossessed Ronnie Henry and surged forward.

But the angles were against the midfielder and his first effort was pushed clear by Jones, while the second flew into the side netting.

Michael Doyle was then left in space 25 yards out and Jones had to push his speculative shot over the bar.

Pompey soon received a bit of good fortune at the other end of the pitch when Byron Harrison inadvertently got in the way of Tom Pett’s goal-bound effort.

Both sides were now looking capable of adding to the scoring and Luke Wilkinson had to hack clear a low Evans shot, with McNulty waiting to pounce at the far post.

Cook made a double switch on 71 minutes as McNulty and Roberts made way for Smith and Naismith.

Stevenage were trying to push men forward in search of an equaliser, but wasted a good opportunity when Harrison and Connor Ogilvie got in each other’s way.

And Pompey made them pay for their profligacy by doubling their advantage on 82 minutes.

Kyle Bennett did well to feed a pass through to NAISMITH, who raced onto it and slammed home to open his account for the club.

There were a few nervous groans from the away end when the fourth official signalled six minutes of stoppage-time.

But – as the heavens opened in Hertfordshire – the Blues comfortably saw out the closing stages to claim all three points.

Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Jones; Henry (c), Wilkinson, Franks, Ogilvie; Cox (Kennedy 60), Conlon; Pett (Parrett 80), Tonge, Hedges (Marriott 72); Harrison
Booked: Wilkinson
Subs not used: Day, Wells, Johnson, Gorman

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Naismith 71), Bennett (Freeman 85); McNulty (Smith 71)
Goals: McNulty 22, Naismith 82
Booked: McNulty
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Chaplin

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 4,092 (1,390 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC