2016/2017

May 062017
 

Match Report

League Two


 

Portsmouth    6

 


 

Cheltenham Town    1

 


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

Portsmouth 1

Cheltenham Town 0


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

Oct 222016
 

Match Report

League Two


Portsmouth 1    2 Notts County

Dominance counts for nothing

Pompey were caught by a couple of sucker punches as they fell to defeat against Nott County at Fratton Park.

They dominated for most of the contest, but were caught out at the back and fell behind to Adam Campbell’s neat finish.

Conor Chaplin levelled within a few minutes and it looked like the Blues would go on to secure all three points.

But some more sloppy play allowed Campbell to strike again and despite Aaron Collins’ red card, the Magpies held on for the victory.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that picked up a point at table-topping Plymouth the previous week.

That meant a fit-again Matt Clarke had to be content with a place on the bench, as Tom Davies continued alongside Christian Burgess in defence.

There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Carl Dickinson and Richard Duffy both starting for the visitors.

And it was the Magpies who were first to threaten, with Robert Milsom not able to guide his header past David Forde.

But Pompey dominated the opening stages, enjoying plenty of possession and showing attacking inset from the outset.

They should have broken the deadlock on six minutes, with Chaplin somehow stabbing Enda Stevens’ cross wide from just a few yards out.

Kyle Bennett also dragged a long-range effort past the post, but with County keeping so many men behind the ball, the hosts were struggling to test keeper Adam Collin.

They were almost caught on the break when Jonathan Forte laid the ball off for Milsom, whose effort grazed the top of the bar.

Chaplin then missed another golden opportunity when he raced onto a long clearance and bore down on goal.

He tried to slide it past Collin, but the keeper saved and Chaplin slipped as he tried to gather the loose ball.

Pompey were able to steal back possession, however, and Collin did well again to stop Carl Baker’s effort going in at the near post.

But despite the home side’s dominance, it was Notts County who opened the scoring on 21 minutes.

The Blues defence were far too slow to stop Campbell collecting Duffy’s pass, turning and firing a sharp shot past Forde.

They were not behind for long, though, and after missing two great chances, CHAPLIN ensured it was third time lucky.

Bennett and Gary Roberts combined well down the left and the latter fired in a low cross that the striker slammed home.

Rather than step up a gear following all that action, however, the game then hit a lull as the interval approached.

Benett and Campbell both hit long-range efforts high over the bar, while Baker struck a fierce drive straight at Collin as the first half petered out.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Notts County 1


There was an injury scare soon after the restart when Gareth Evans hurt himself while conceding a free-kick.

He received treatment on the sidelines before returning to the action, but spent the next few minutes hobbling around the pitch.

Pompey then created a decent chance when Chaplin crossed into the box, but Bennett is not famed for his heading abilities and diverted the ball wide.

Cook soon made his first switch, with Stevens appearing to pick up a hamstring injury and being replaced at left-back by Kal Naismith.

The Blues kept plugging away, but the chances were not coming along as frequently as they had before the break.

In an attempt to liven things up in attack, Chaplin was withdrawn and Curtis Main was tasked with finding a winner.

But, within seconds, the hosts instead found themselves behind, with Campbell racing through to slot past Forde.

The keeper – like the rest of his team-mates – was incensed, believing that Davies had been fouled in the build-up and his protests resulted in a yellow card.

Pompey’s final substitution soon followed, with Bennett making way for Milan Lalkovic wide on the left.

But it was Roberts who threatened next, stealing the ball form Louis Laing, only to see his low cross cut out.

And the Blues were soon handed a numerical advantage when Collins dived in late on Forde and was shown a straight red card.

They immediately set about trying to find an equaliser and Collin kept out Main’s header from a pin-point Baker delivery.

Burgess was thrown up the field as an extra striker, with the hosts keen to push forward at every opportunity.

The Fratton faithful were buoyed by a display of six additional minutes from the fourth official and Baker twice went close to finding a leveller.

First, his shot was superbly saved by Collin from point-blank range and then, from the resulting corner, he narrowly cleared the crossbar.

Roberts also fizzed a shot inches past the post, as Notts County held firm to leave with all three points.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens (Naismith 59); Linganzi, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Lalkovic 74); Chaplin (Main 70)
Goals: Chaplin 27
Booked: Forde, Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Rose, Smith

Notts County (4-1-4-1): Collin; Tootle, Laing, Hollis, Dickinson (c); Duffy; Campbell (Smith 90), Richards, Milsom, Forte (Rodman 90); Collins
Goals: Campbell 21, 71
Sent off: Collins
Booked: Laing
Subs not used: Loach, Hewitt, Edwards, O’Connor, Burke

Referee: Nigel Miller

Attendance: 17,269 (364 away fans)


Portsmouth FC


Oct 152016
 

Match Report

League Two


Plymouth Argyle 2    2 Portsmouth

Bennett and Rose strikes not enough for victory

A couple of impressive Pompey goals were not enough to secure back-to-back away victories, as Plymouth hit a late leveller at Home Park.

The game did not need to be hyped up by any manufactured ‘derby’ label, with both sides contributing to an engrossing contest.

Yann Songo’o gave the hosts a lead, only for Kyle Bennett to haul the visitors level with a fierce strike before the interval.

Danny Rose then came off the bench to net a stunning late strike that only just crossed the line, but there was still time for fellow substitute Connor Smith to ensure a share of the spoils.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that won at Leyton Orient the previous week.

That came at the back, where Matt Clarke’s dead leg saw Tom Davies handed a recall alongside Christian Burgess.

There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Sonny Bradley and Jake Jervis both starting against their former club.

After a cagey opening, Pompey started to find their feet and look dangerous whenever they broke into the Plymouth half.

A neat passing move between Bennett, Gary Roberts and Carl Baker ended with the latter forcing a save from Luke McCormick at the keeper’s near post.

Conor Chaplin then did well to weave his way into the box and when McCormick failed to claim the ball, Songo’o had to dive on top of it.

But for all their attacking swagger, the Blues were looking extremely frail when defending set-pieces.

A David Fox corner found its way to the feet of Jimmy Spencer at the far post, with Gareth Evans well-placed to make a block.

But the hosts did forge ahead on 20 minutes when Songo’o rose highest to plant Graham Carey’s deep free-kick past David Forde’s grasp and into the net.

Then, when another Carey effort was deflected behind, it took a goal-line clearance from Baker to deny Jordan Slew.

Chaplin thought he had won Pompey a chance to equalise moments later after tumbling over Gary Miller’s trailing leg.

Referee Darren Handley had other ideas, however, instead issuing the striker a yellow card for diving.

There seemed to be another good shout for a spot-kick when Chaplin was shoved by Nauris Bulvitis as he tried to reach Enda Stevens’ cross, but this time there were no appeals.

But Pompey were finally rewarded for their attacking intent with an equaliser five minutes before the break.

Chaplin was the provider, skinning Bulvitis to break into the box and laying the ball off for the impressive BENNETT to fire home.

There was still time for a scare at the other end, though, with Stevens forced to clear Carey’s cross behind following a mix-up between Evans and Davies.


Half Time

Plymouth Argyle 1

Portsmouth 1


Bennett continued to look lively after the restart, narrowly failing to find Baker in the box and then not quite able to get the vital touch when the favour was returned.

But Miller then received the ball in acres of space at the other end, only to see his shot deflected safely into Forde’s arms.

Pompey were looking the more dangerous side, however, and Chaplin dragged his effort inches wide of the post after again breezing past Bulvitis.

More neat passing led to a corner just before the hour mark and after exchanging short passes with Michael Doyle, Roberts’ cross was headed straight at McCormick by Bennett.

It was Roberts who was next to try his luck with a fierce long-range effort that was well saved down to the keeper’s left.

But Plymouth were inches away from retaking the lead on 67 minutes, when Carey struck a superb effort that cannoned back off the crossbar.

The visitors soon made their first substitution, with Rose replacing Amine Linganzi in the centre of midfield.

And the other two soon followed, as Chaplin and Bennett made way for Curtis Main and Milan Lalkovic.

Both of the latter two had the chance to score from the save move on 79 minutes, but Main couldn’t get a clean strike on Evans’ cross.

Lalkovic then completely missed the loose ball and Miller breathed a sigh of relief when his clearance flew inches past his own post.

A Blues goal did arrive on 87 minutes – although it looked like the chance had gone when McCormick made a stunning save to deny Main from close range.

The ball came out to ROSE and he hit a superb 30-yard volley that bounced down off the underside of the crossbar.

Pompey’s players desperately appealed that the ball had crossed the line and the linesman flagged in agreement.

But that was not enough to secure all three points, as just a couple of minutes later, the ball was cut back for Smith to calmly slot home.

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick (c); Miller, Bulvitis, Bradley, Purrington; Songo’o, Fox; Jervis (Smith 60), Carey, Slew (Donaldson 81); Spencer (Tanner 84)
Goals: Songo’o 20, Smith 89
Booked: Songo’o, Purrington, Slew
Subs not used: Dorel, Bentley, Ijaha, Goodwillie

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Linganzi (Rose 69), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Lalkovic 74); Chaplin (Main 72)
Goals: Bennett 40, Rose 87
Booked: Chaplin, Evans
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Naismith, Smith

Referee: Darren Handley

Attendance: 13,508 (1,592 Pompey fans)


Portsmouth FC


Oct 082016
 

Match Report

League Two


Leyton Orient 0    1 Portsmouth

Blues return to winning ways

Christian Burgess found the target as Pompey returned to winning ways at Leyton Orient.

The Blues recovered from successive league defeats to claim all three points in an absorbing contest in the capital.

They had to wait until after the interval to grab the game’s only goal, though, with Burgess heading home from a corner.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that were beaten by Doncaster the previous week.

Amine Linganzi was handed a first league start in the centre of midfield, while Kyle Bennett came in wide on the left.

Former Pompey loanees Alex Cisak and Paul McCallum both featured for the hosts, but Nigel Atangana had not fully recovered from a groin problem.

The first half was a goalless – but entertaining – affair, with both sides creating chances and the officials at the source of some controversial moments.

It was a quick start from the hosts, who had a corner hacked clear before David Forde denied McCallum with his legs.

Conor Chaplin then thought he had broken the deadlock with a neat sweeping finish from Enda Stevens’ cross, only for the linesman’s flag to cut his celebrations short.

Orient were soon forced into an early change after Liam Kelly had to be stretchered off, although it took almost four minutes for Sandro Semedo to get ready to replace him.

The first of three penalty appeals was made by the Blues on eight minutes, but referee Christopher Sarginson did not believe Gareth Evans’ cross had been turned behind by a hand.

An unmarked Linganzi should have broken the deadlock seconds later, heading Gary Roberts’ corner wide from a few yards out.

Then it was the Londoners’ turn to cry ‘penalty’ when Callum Kennedy’s free-kick appeared to be handled by Burgess.

Pompey’s defender then bundled over Yvan Erichot for good measure, but Sarginson again shook his head.

The visitors were causing problems with their constant pressing and when Chaplin forced a mistake from Cisak, the keeper recovered well to deny his opponent.

Bennett was proving a nuisance with his probing runs and one ended with a shot that was inadvertently diverted behind by Chaplin.

And it was Bennett who had the third penalty shout on 29 minutes. He neatly side-stepped Gavin Massey and looked to be tripped, but Sarginson disagreed once more and, adding insult to injury, also booked the winger.

He narrowly failed to find the target with a shot from the edge of the box soon after, while Chaplin’s fierce volley also went inches wide before the break.


Half Time

Leyton Orient 0

Portsmouth 0


There was a great Blues opening just after the restart when Stevens delivered a delightful low cross into the box.

It looked like the ball would land perfectly for Chaplin to convert, only for the striker to slip at the worst possible moment.

But the visitors were then caught in possession at the back, with Forde just about leaping high enough to stop Alan Dunne from chipping him.

It was a defender who finally opened the scoring for Pompey on 57 minutes, however.

Roberts did well to win a corner on the left side and when Carl Baker whipped the ball into the box, BURGESS rose highest to head home.

Cook made a double switch soon after, with Linganzi and Chaplin making way for Danny Rose and Curtis Main.

There was still work to be done at the other end, though, and a dangerous Kennedy free-kick had to be scrambled to safety.

But Leyton Orient were leaving gaps at the back for Pompey to exploit, although the visitors were just lacking a final killer ball in their attempts to double the lead.

Roberts had an effort deflected wide following some good link-up play with Bennett, while a couple of fine Baker crosses could not quite be converted.

The hosts were looking increasingly ragged at the back, with the Blues looking more likely to add to the scoring.

And they were almost gifted a second goal on 81 minutes when Nicky Hunt headed Baker’s cross against his own post.

But Orient were certainly not out of the contest and a corner led to two shots in quick succession, both of which were blocked.

That was as close as the Londoners came to snatching a share of the spoils, however, as Pompey’s travelling army were able to celebrate a win on the road.

Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Cisak; Hunt, Erichot, Parkes, Kennedy; Janse, Kelly (c) (Semedo 9), Massey, Nnomo (Palmer 82); McCallum (Dunne 46), Simpson
Subs not used: Sargeant, Pollock, Benedicic, Bowery

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi (Rose 67), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Lalkovic 82); Chaplin (Main 67)
Goals: Burgess 57
Booked: Bennett, Stevens
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Lalkovic, Smith

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 6,078 (1,328 Pompey fans)



Portsmouth FC

Oct 042016
 

Match Report

EFL Trophy


Portsmouth 2    2 Reading U23

Blues lose penalty shoot out

Curtis Main bagged a brace as Pompey fought from two goals down to draw with Reading U23s in the Checkatrade Trophy.

But it was the visitors who claimed a bonus point by winning a marathon penalty shoot-out, despite the heroics of goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.

Andrija Novakovich’s early finish and a Joseph Mendes penalty looked to have secured victory for the visitors.

But Main struck twice – the second of which was a fine first time finish – to haul the Blues level at a sparsely-populated Fratton Park.

The match attracted a crowd of just 1,355 – comfortably Pompey’s lowest post-war attendance for a competitive home fixture.

Paul Cook rung the changes for their second group stage fixture, with Matt Clarke the only player to keep his place from Saturday’s league defeat to Doncaster.

But they got off to a poor start, with the visitors breaking the deadlock after just six minutes.

Mendes showed blistering pace to latch onto Liam Kelly’s pass and coolly laid the ball back for Novakovich to slot home.

Most of the first half action then took place at the other end of the pitch, although the Blues never really tested keeper Anssi Jaakkola.

Thomas McIntyre did well to nip in and intercept a threaded pass from skipper Kyle Bennet before it could reach Michael Smith.

The two Blues players combined well again moments later, but after swapping neat passes the striker scuffed his shot wide.

Bennett then teed-up Adam Buxton down the right and the full-back’s cross had to be diverted behind by Danzell Gravenberch with Main waiting to pounce.

Pompey’s best chance of the half fell to Milan Lalkovic on 23 minutes, with his goal-bound effort just about scrambled to safety.

The Royals did threaten at the other end moments later, but O’Brien was able to gather Dominic Samuel’s fierce low drive at the other end.

And Ben Close hit a similarly powerful shot of his own, only for the ball to narrowly clear the crossbar.

But the Blues were dealt a blow just before the break when Buxton went down following a 50/50 challenge and had to be replaced by Gareth Evans.


Half Time

Portsmouth 0

Reading U23 1


Pompey had a chance to level moments after the restart, but Jaakkola was wise to Evans’ neat flick after Bennett had sent a corner towards the near post.

Instead, they found themselves further behind when referee Oli Langford spotted an Amine Linganzi handball in the box.

Mendes stepped up to take the spot-kick and smashed the ball high into the net, giving O’Brien – who guessed the right way – no chance.

It did not take long for the hosts to reduce their deficit, however, as MAIN slid in to squeeze Evans’ cross past Jaakkola.

And it was MAIN who drew the Blues level just past the hour mark, converting Bennett’s pass with a fine first time finish into the bottom corner.

The striker was denied the chance to complete his hat-trick, though, as he was soon withdrawn for Kal Naismith.

Reading still had chances of their own as the game entered its closing stages and O’Brien got down well to save Novakovich’s deflected effort.

It was Pompey looking the more threatening, however, and Smith was inches away from meeting Naismith’s teasing cross.

Jaakkola then failed to hold substitute Adam May’s thumping strike and was relieved to see the ball land safe.

And it took a vital last-gasp challenge from Gravenberch to prevent Smith from being sent clear by Bennett’s incisive pass.

But the Royals wasted a glorious opportunity to snatch a stoppage-time winner when an unmarked Tyler Frost fired straight at O’Brien from just a few yards out.

That meant a penalty shoot-out would be held to see which team walked away with an additional point.

Smith, Naismith and Evans all scored, but Jaakkola denied both Bennett and Lalkovic and it looked like that was that.

O’Brien made a couple of stops of his own to take it to sudden death, however – and made another fine save to keep out Tennai Watson’s effort.

But May and Jack Whatmough both failed to beat Jaakkola, allowing Frost the chance to secure Reading an additional point.

Pompey (4-4-2): O’Brien; Buxton (Evans 44), Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup; Bennett (c), Linganzi, Close (May 73), Lalkovic; Smith, Main (Naismith 69)
Goals: Main 57, 63
Subs not used: Hall, T.Davies, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Reading U23 (4-4-2): Jaakkola (c); Watson, Gravenberch, McIntyre (Griffin 18), Blackett; Rinomhota, Frost, Kelly, Samuel; Novakovic (Richards 78), Mendes
Goals: Novakovic 6, Mendes 52 (pen)
Booked: Rinomhota
Subs not used: Moore, Vancooten, East, Bennett, Cardwell

Referee: Oli Langford

Attendance: 1,355 (133 away fans)



Portsmouth FC

Oct 012016
 

Match Report

League Two


Portsmouth 1    2 Doncaster Rovers

Blues slip to first home defeat

Pompey suffered their first home defeat of the season despite a spirited fightback against Doncaster.

The visitors took advantage of their slow start to cruise into a two-goal lead, courtesy of strikes from John Marquis and Andy Williams.

But Carl Baker reduced the arrears before the interval and the Blues poured forward after it in search of a leveller.

They hit the woodwork and had another effort cleared from the line, but were unable to make another breakthrough.

Paul Cook made one change from the side beaten at Blackpool earlier in the week.

That came at the back, where Tom Davies dropped to the bench to make way for Matt Clarke.

Pompey looked to make a fast start, but Gary Roberts strayed narrowly offside when Conor Chaplin tried to send him through on goal.

Instead they fall behind on seven minutes after David Forde came tearing out of his area to mop up a long ball over the top.

It was former Blues loanee Marquis who got their first, however, taking the ball past the keeper and then slotting it into an empty net.

They might have doubled their advantage soon after, but Williams mis-cued his effort and Forde made a comfortable save.

Baker then went close at the other end, drawing a stop from Marko Marosi, despite being surrounded by three defenders the moment he was teed-up by Enda Stevens

And Chaplin wasted a decent opportunity by scuffing his shot after Kal Naismith had expertly brought the ball down on the edge of the box.

Pompey were looking sloppy, however, and guilty of gifting Doncaster possession on far too many occasions.

They fell further behind on 34 minutes, with Williams afforded to space to collect a deep free-kick, swivel and find the net.

The hosts finally clicked into gear towards the end of the first half and thought they should have won a penalty.

Gareth Evans went down in the box under pressure from Tommy Rowe, but referee Darren Deadman decided he had dived and brandished a yellow card, much to the chagrin of Pompey’s right-back.

Baker almost reduced the deficit on 38 minutes with a fierce 30-yard strike that was superbly tipped over by Marosi.

A low Roberts cross was then almost turned into his own net by Cedric Evina and the left-back must have breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the ball instead go behind for a corner.

But Pompey finally made a breakthrough just before the interval, although they did receive a slice of good fortune.

Evans’ cross appeared to be going behind, but Jordan Houghton inexplicably kept it in play, laying the ball on a plate for BAKER to emphatically fire into the roof of the net.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Doncaster Rovers 2


Chaplin started an attack when he stole the ball from Matty Blair and launched a quick counter-attack after the restart.

He then fed Roberts’ down the left, but the midfielder’s return pass to the far post was headed to safety.

It was then Doncaster’s turn to threaten, with Michael Doyle intercepting Marquis’ cross before the striker bent another effort narrowly wide.

Cook made a double switch on 54 minutes, with Naismith and Danny Rose making way for Milan Lalkovic and Amine Linganzi.

Rovers were still in the ascendency, though, and Doyle made a crucial block after Williams had skipped past a couple of challenges.

But Chaplin had an excellent opportunity to equalise just past the hour mark. He was picked out unmarked in the box by Roberts, but had to adjust his body and was unable to divert the ball on target.

Christian Burgess then headed wide from close range following another excellent delivery from Roberts.

Cook made his final throw of the dice on 71 minutes, with Curtis Main given a chance to impress against his former side in place of Chaplin.

It was Baker who almost levelled moments late, though, when he diverted Lalkovic’s shot against the crossbar.

And Main was then unable to beat Marosi from point-blank range after Evans’ cross had been turned back into the centre by Roberts.

Rovers soon had a chance at the other end when Clarke mis-hit the ball, but Forde came to the rescue with a smart save.

But it was largely one-way traffic and Pompey thought they had found an equaliser on 81 minutes.

Roberts met Baker’s cross with a firm header, only for it to be hacked clear by Andy Butler, despite blue-shirted appeals that the ball had crossed the line.

The display of six additional minutes provided some hope for the Fratton faithful, but the Blues were unable to salvage a point.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Linganzi 54), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Naismith (Lalkovic 54); Chaplin (Main 71)
Goals: Baker 42
Booked: Evans
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Bennett, Smith

Doncaster (4-1-2-1-2): Marosi; Richardson (Calder 29 (Mason 69)), Wright, Butler, Evina; Houghton; Blair, Rowe; Coppinger (c) (Middleton 76); Marquis, Williams
Goals: Marquis 7, Williams 34
Booked: Butler, Evina, Marquis
Subs not used: Etheridge, Baudry, Mandeville, Beestin

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 16,950 (449 away fans)



Portsmouth FC

Sep 272016
 

Match Report

League Two


Blackpool 3    1 Portsmouth

More away day Blues

Pompey’s poor away form continued as they slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Blackpool.

Just three days after their Fratton Park rout of Barnet, it was back down to earth with a bump.

They recovered from falling behind to Kelvin Mellor’s header, thanks to an impressive Conor Chaplin leveller.

But some sloppy second half defending allowed Brad Potts and Kyle Vassell to secure all three points for the Tangerines.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat the Bees so emphatically at the weekend.

It was Pompey who made the brighter start in a game that was played out amidst an eerily-quiet atmosphere at a sparsely-populated Bloomfield Road.

Enda Stevens delivered a dangerous low cross that Dean Lyness did well to gather in the opening stages.

Gary Roberts then just failed to meet a Carl Baker delivery, while Michael Doyle’s drive was deflected safely into the arms of the Tangerines keeper.

There were also long-range attempts from Kal Naismith and Baker that both narrowly failed to find their intended target.

So it came as a surprise when Blackpool forged ahead against the run of play on 18 minutes.

David Forde charged from his line to meet Jack Payne’s free-kick, but Mellor got there first to head into the unguarded net.

The goal seemed to shake the Blues, who suddenly became sloppy in possession and looked increasingly susceptible on the counter-attack.

One good move saw them win a corner, only for Blackpool to break straight up the other end of the pitch and almost double their advantage, with Vassell’s effort clipping the outside of the post.

The powerful presence of Armand Gnanduillet was also causing problems and Doyle was forced to intervene when the striker got past both Christian Burgess and Tom Davies.

But then, for the second time in the first half, it was the team on the back foot that found the net.

And it was a goal worth the long journey up from the south coast, with CHAPLIN scoring in spectacular fashion on 34 minutes.

Naismith failed to connect with Roberts’ cross, but Danny Rose did and when his shot was blocked, the ball spun up invitingly for Pompey’s teenage striker to convert with an acrobatic over-head effort.

Blackpool did have a chance to restore their lead before the interval, only for Forde to get down to his left and keep out Potts’ drive.


Half Time

Blackpool 1

Portsmouth 1


Chaplin tried another ambitious attempt seconds after the restart, only this time the ball went out for a Blackpool throw.

It was closer when the visitors won a corner moments later, but Roberts’ delivery was just out of reach for Davies at the far post.

Instead they found themselves behind on 49 minutes, thanks to some more sloppy defending from the Blues.

Blackpool stole possession on the left and although Forde palmed out Vassell’s cross, the ball landed at the feet of Potts for a tap-in.

Pompey tried to find an instant response and Roberts flung himself at a Stevens cross, but could not quite squeeze his header past Lyness.

They went close again on 64 minutes when Baker was fouled 25 yards out and Naismith’s curling free-kick was deflected narrowly wide.

But the Blues then gifted their opponents another goal moments later after Doyle passed the back to Davies.

The centre-back was caught in possession by Vassell, who burst forward before slotting the ball past Forde.

And the same player almost added a fourth goal within seconds, but this time headed over the crossbar.

Cook immediately made his first substitution, with Baker making way for Kyle Bennett in Pompey’s attack.

And Michael Smith then replaced Stevens, as Pompey tried to force something by throwing on another striker.

There were half-chances for both as the seconds ticked down, with the former flashing a shot wide and the second forcing a save from Lyness.

But there was still time for late drama at the other end when Vassell skipped past Doyle and burst through on goal.

Forde charged from his line and appeared to take both ball and man, with the linesman flagging for a penalty, only to be overruled by referee David Webb.

The Blues breathed a sigh of relief, but there was no cause for any smiles as the issue of their contrasting home and away fortunes continued.

Blackpool (4-4-1-1): Lyness; Mellor, Aldred, Robertson (Aimson 46), Taylor (c); Potts (Cain 90+3), Payne, McAlister, Philliskirk; Vassell; Gnanduillet (Matt 76)
Goals: Mellor 18, Potts 49, Vassell 65
Booked: Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Boney, Yeates, Osayi-Samuel, Cullen

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens (Smith 78); Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Bennett 67), Roberts, Naismith; Chaplin (Main 84)
Goals: Chaplin 34
Booked: Bennett, Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Lalkovic

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 3,055 (737 Pompey fans)



Portsmouth FC

Sep 242016
 

Match Report

League Two


Portsmouth 5    1 Barnet

Five goal Blues fight back

Pompey returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion as they crushed Barnet at Fratton Park.

But they had to fight from behind after John Akinde fired the visitors ahead from the penalty spot.

Gary Roberts teed-up Conor Chaplin to draw them level before the break and then got on the scoresheet himself early in the second half.

The Blues were rampant by this point and goals from Carl Baker, Milan Lalkovic and Danny Rose secured a comfortable victory.

Roberts should have added another in the midst of all that, only to see his penalty saved after Bira Dembele had been sent off for a foul on Chaplin.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that were beaten at Accrington the previous week.

There were starts for Chaplin up front and Kal Naismith out wide, with Michael Smith and Kyle Bennett both dropping to the bench.

Pompey started brightly and Chaplin had a shot blocked by Curtis Weston before Enda Stevens’ cross had to be turned behind.

The duo were both involved in the next opening on 12 minutes, with a low Stevens delivery just out of reach for the Blues’ striker sliding in at the near post.

Gareth Evans then got free down the right, but his cross landed behind Baker, who could only hook over the crossbar.

Barnet were causing problems themselves, however, and David Forde charged from his area to beat Akinde to the ball.

Weston then got past Christian Burgess and into the Blues box, but the defender recovered well to avert the danger.

Tom Davies almost opened his Pompey account at the other end, as Baker’s cross hit him in the chest and landed safely in the arms of Bees keeper Josh Vickers.

But the centre-back conceded a penalty soon after, with referee Darren England deciding he had used his hand to clear Ryan Watson’s corner.

Akinde stepped up to take the spot-kick and although the former Blues striker’s shot was poor, it crept under Forde’s dive and into the net.

The same player might have doubled their advantage on 32 minutes, only to head Watson’s corner over from close range.

Instead it was the home fans celebrating as their side drew level, with Roberts acting as the magician and CHAPLIN the assassin.

The former did well to steal possession and then played a sumptuous pass through to the latter, who coolly slid the ball home.

Pompey had another chance before the break, but when Baker’s effort was blocked, an audacious over-head strike from Chaplin flew wide.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Barnet 1


Barnet came flying out of the traps after the restart and it took a great challenge from Burgess to halt Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s surging run.

But the Blues should then have forged ahead, with Roberts somehow failing to connect with Stevens’ teasing low cross.

ROBERTS certainly made amends moments later, however, turning Michael Nelson and leaving him on the floor before hammering home.

And it soon got even better for the hosts, as BAKER collected the ball on the right, cut inside and curled an exquisite left-foot shot past Vickers’ grasp and into the net.

Pompey should have extended their lead further on 65 minutes when England awarded them a penalty.

Chaplin charged into the box and went down under Dembele’s challenge, with the official signalling that he had been tugged to the floor.

It got worse for the beleaguered Bees, as a red card was harshly produced and the defender had to trudge back to the dressing room.

Roberts stepped up to try to continue his prolific scoring spell, but Vickers flung himself to the left to beat the ball clear.

Cook made a double switch on 73 minutes, with Naismith and Chaplin receiving standing ovations as they were replaced by Lalkovic and Curtis Main.

And it was LALKOVIC who soon put the icing on the cake, receiving the ball on the edge of the box and neatly bending it right into the bottom corner.

Pompey refused to sit back and kept pouring forward in search of more goals to heap further misery on Barnet.

And the fifth did arrive in stoppage-time, as a neat passing move cut open the Bees defence before ROSE slotted home to cap a memorable afternoon on the south coast.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Bennett 80), Roberts, Naismith (Lalkovic 73); Chaplin (Main 73)
Goals: Chaplin 34, Roberts 50, Baker 56, Lalkovic 78, Rose 90+2
Booked: Chaplin, Roberts
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Smith

Barnet (4-3-3): Vickers; Vilhete, Nelson (c), Dembele, Johnson; Watson (Batt 55), Weston, Taylor; Campbell-Ryce (N’Gala 64), Akinde, Akpa Akpro (Gambin 55)
Goals: Akinde 27 (pen)
Sent off: Dembele
Booked: Watson, Batt
Subs not used: Stephens, Sesay, Kyei, Nicholls

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 16,280 (275 away fans)



Portsmouth FC

Sep 172016
 

Match Report

League Two


Accrington Stanley 1    0 Portsmouth

Run comes to an end

A moment of magic from Paddy Lacey secured Accrington all three points in an otherwise turgid encounter with Pompey.

The midfielder’s stunning second half strike was one of the few occasions when either side looked like scoring at a sunny Crown Ground.

There was a late surge for the visitors as they tried to secure a share of the spoils, but they were unable to find an equaliser.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that beat Wycombe at Fratton Park the previous week.

Michael Smith came in for the injured Curtis Main up front, while Milan Lalkovic dropped to the bench to make way for Kyle Bennett on the left.

Pompey had a chance to break the deadlock with just three minutes on the clock when Carl Baker whipped in a dangerous cross from the right.

The ball found Gary Roberts standing unmarked at the far post, but the midfielder rolled his shot wide of the post.

Anyone who thought that would signal the start of an incident-packed half was to be left disappointed, however.

In fact, neither goalkeeper had to make a save of note, with both sides struggling to make an impact in the final third.

David Forde confidently dealt with a couple of Accrington crosses, while a Billy Kee free-kick failed to find its way through the wall.

The Blues did place the ball into some dangerous positions from out wide, but there was nobody in the box to make the most of them.

Meanwhile, the Stanley coaching staff were starting to grow frustrated by a couple of bewildering free-kick decisions that went the way of the visitors.

Pompey did wake everyone up with a decent opportunity on 33 minutes, but Michael Doyle – diving forward inside the box – could not quite guide Baker’s cross on target.

And the Blues then almost gifted Accrington the opener from a Sean McConville free-kick just before the break.

It was Christian Burgess who rose to meet it and inadvertently sent the ball against his own post before it was hurriedly scrambled clear.


Half Time

Accrington Stanley 0

Portsmouth 0


The match continued in the same turgid vein after the restart and a free-kick from Roberts failed to beat the first man.

But a rare moment of quality saw the hosts break the deadlock on 52 minutes, with Lacey hitting a stunning long-range strike that left Forde with no chance.

That certainly provided Accrington with a shot of confidence and Kee ran at the Blues back-line before hitting a tame shot straight at the keeper.

Pompey tried to mount a response and Aaron Chapman dealt with a couple of crosses, while Doyle hit a fierce drive over the crossbar.

Cook decided the time was right to make a change just past the hour mark, with Conor Chaplin replacing Danny Rose to provide a foil for Smith up front.

And another substitution soon followed, as Baker made way to give Kal Naismith a chance to impress against his former club

The third and final switch then came on 70 minutes, with Roberts coming off and Lalkovic the man charged with providing some attacking impetus.

He was soon involved in the action, but could not quite keep the ball in play after Enda Stevens’ cross had been flicked on by Smith.

Naismith then showcased a fine bit of skill to beat his man on the right, although his cross was slightly too high for Smith, who could only head over.

And Bennett turned his defender inside out on 82 minutes, sending in a fine delivery that a tightly-marked Naismith was unable to convert.

Pompey were applying some late pressure and a fizzing low Stevens cross was agonisingly out of reach for a number of black-shirted team-mates.

It was too little, too late, however, as the Blues’ impressive winning run ended with a whimper.

Accrington (4-2-3-1): Chapman; Vyner, Beckles, Pearson, Donacien; Lacey (Hewitt 80), Conneely (c); O’Sullivan (Boco 62), Clark, McConville; Kee
Goals: Lacey 52
Booked: McConville
Subs not used: Parish, Jones, Hughes, Eagles, Gornell

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose (Chaplin 63), Doyle (c); Baker (Naismith 67), Roberts (Lalkovic 70), Bennett; Smith
Booked: T.Davies
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Hunt

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 2,461 (806 Pompey fans)



Portsmouth FC

Sep 032016
 

Match Report

League Two


Portsmouth 3    0 Crawley Town

Blues good run continues

Pompey eased to a third successive league win, courtesy of three first half goals against a hapless Crawley side at Fratton Park.

The damage was done inside the first 12 minutes, with Curtis Main breaking the deadlock before Gary Roberts continued his prolific scoring spell.

It was Main who added a third goal before the break, allowing the Blues to comfortably see out the second half and claim their three points.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that won at Exeter in the last league outing.

Drew Talbot was suffering from a hamstring injury and with Adam Buxton and Calvin Davies also sidelined, Gareth Evans had to deputise at right-back.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Pompey Ladies president Dave Coyle, who sadly passed away recently.

The hosts immediately launched into an energetic attacking display, looking to get forward at every opportunity and play with a high tempo.

Roberts tried to take advantage of some uncertain defending by chasing down a poor back-pass in the opening seconds, but Crawley keeper Yusuf Mersin just about beat him to the ball.

The Red Devils then had their best chance of the half, only for James Collins to hit his shot into the ground and watch it fly wide.

Most of the action was taking place at the other end of the pitch, however, and Michael Doyle was not quite able to dig the ball from out of his feet and test Mersin.

But the deadlock was broken on eight minutes, as MAIN opened his Fratton Park account.

Enda Stevens latched onto a pass down the left and then cut the ball back for the striker to lash into the roof of the net.

That certainly got the home fans off their seats and they were in dreamland moments later when the Blues doubled their advantage.

And it was no surprise who scored it either, with Danny Rose stealing possession from Alex Davey and ROBERTS picking up the loose ball to rifle home his fourth goal in three games.

Pompey refused to sit back and protect their lead, though, as they set about trying to find a third.

Mark Connolly was clever enough to spot Roberts’ cute pass through to Main and make a vital interception.

Roberts tried to pick out the striker again soon after, only this time Davey rose highest to clear the danger.

MAIN did add a third goal before the interval, however, being in the right place to convert from close range after Mersin could only parry away a deflected effort from Milan Lalkovic.

There was still time for Crawley to launch a rare attack, but, under pressure from Christian Burgess, Jason Banton could only fire wide.


Half Time

Portsmouth 3

Crawley Town 0


It was a more sedate pace at the start of the second half, although Carl Baker wasted a good opening by dragging his shot wide.

Main then had a chance to seal his hat-trick, but spun and fired wide after Roberts’ neat flick had released Evans down the right.

Cook made his first switch just past the hour mark, with Main receiving warm applause as he made way for Conor Chaplin.

Crawley had a chance at the other end when Tom Davies was booked for a foul on Banton, with Burgess sticking out a leg to clear Jimmy Smith’s free-kick.

There was a definite sense of the game winding down as the heavens opened and heavy rain began to fall.

That might have contributed to a spot of sloppy defending from the hosts, who survived through some last-gasp defending before Smith’s shot was saved by David Forde.

Roberts was then given a deserved rest and replaced by Kal Naismith for his first home appearance of the season.

The final switch saw Michael Smith come on for the lively Lalkovic and he almost netted in stoppage-time following a quick break, but hit his shot agonisingly past the post.

It mattered little, however, as Pompey had, in truth, wrapped the game up by half-time to seal yet another league triumph.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Naismith 72), Lalkovic (Smith 82); Main (Chaplin 65)
Goals: Main 9, 37, Roberts 12
Booked: Main, T.Davies
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Hunt

Crawley (4-2-3-1): Mersin; Young, Connolly, Davey, Blackman (Arthur 52); Smith (c), Yorwerth (Payne 52); Boldewijn, Banton, Yussuf (Bawling 68); Collins
Booked: Blackman
Subs not used: Beeney, McNerney, Clifford, Tajbakhsh

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 16,347 (435 away fans)


Portsmouth FC

Aug 302016
 

Match Report

EFL Trophy


Yeovil Town 4    3 Portsmouth

EFL Trophy fails to excite

A new-look Pompey side suffered defeat in their first Checkatrade Trophy group stage match at a sparsely-populated Huish Park.

In a game that was full of attacking verve, but short on defensive solidity, it was Yeovil who emerged with all three points.

That is despite an impressive hat-trick from Michael Smith, who looked full of confidence leading the line for the Blues.

But a brace from Thomas Eaves, as well as goals from Bevis Mugabi and Izale McLeod, ensured the treble counted for little.

Paul Cook changed the entire side that started the league victory at Exeter at the weekend.

Liam O’Brien was handed his debut between the sticks, while there was a first appearance for Matt Clarke since he made a permanent Blues switch.

But the keeper was almost picking the ball out of his net before the first minute had passed, with McLeod bursting through on goal and firing against the post.

The former Pompey striker had another opportunity soon after and this time fired into the side netting from an acute angle.

It was the Blues who broke the deadlock after eight minutes, however, when the impressive Kal Naismith whipped in a pin-point cross from the left and SMITH rose to convert with a bullet header.

But the lead was short-lived, as Yeovil won a free-kick 35 yards out and Matthew Dolan’s shot was diverted in by Mugabi.

McLeod then had the ball in the back of O’Brien’s net again, although the linesman had long since raised his flag for offside.

It certainly counted just seconds later, though, when Eaves neatly controlled a ball over the top and calmly slotted home.

Pompey were still looking a real threat going forward, but both Gareth Evans and Smith failed to trouble Glovers keeper Jonathan Maddison with headers.

It was a different story at the back, however, as a defence containing three midfielders and someone making their first appearance of the season unsurprisingly struggled.

And McLeod made the most of that by netting against his old side on 27 minutes, playing a neat one-two with Otis Khan before lifting the ball over O’Brien.

Still the goals kept coming and this time it was Pompey who found the target thanks to a fine goal.

Naismith picked out SMITH in the box and the striker brought the ball under control before turning and firing into the bottom corner.

But no sooner had the Blues got themselves back into the game, they conceded a fourth, with Eaves allowed far too much time to burst forward and find the net.


Half Time

Yeovil Town 4

Portsmouth 2


The start to the second half was not quite as explosive as the first, although Eaves fired over in his search for a hat-trick.

Evans then collected Ben Tollitt’s low cross at the other end, but was not given the time or space to get a decent shot away.

Eaves may have been denied his treble, but SMITH made sure of the matchball when he rose at the back post to head home a deep cross from Adam May.

Pompey immediately made their first substitution, with Tollitt making way and Conor Chaplin looking to join in the goal spree.

One quick break saw him cynically tugged back by Liam Shephard, earning the Yeovil defender a yellow card.

He then surged forward to join Evans in a counter-attack, only to be forced wide and then curl his eventual shot over.

It was Smith who almost drew the Blues level with his fourth of the evening on 72 minutes, but he could not quite get the ball from under his feet and fired narrowly over.

That was his last involvement, as he was withdrawn for Noel Hunt, receiving warm applause from the small pocket of travelling fans.

There was then a late moment of controversy when Amine Linganzi diverted a corner towards the goal.

Maddison was able to smother the ball, but Pompey were adamant it had crossed the line, only for their appeals to fall on deaf ears.

The visitors kept up their attacking intent as they went in search of a leveller, but Yeovil held on for the victory.

Yeovil (4-1-4-1): Maddison; Shephard, Mugabi, Smith (c), Butcher; Lawless; Khan (Copp 89), Whitfield (Lea 75), Dolan, Eaves; McLeod
Goals: Mugabi 13, Eaves 22, 39, McLeod 27
Booked: Shephard, Khan
Subs not used: Krysiak, Sowunmi, Bassett

Pompey (4-2-3-1): O’Brien; May, Barton, Clarke (T.Davies 61), Naismith; Close, Linganzi; Evans, Bennett (c), Tollitt (Chaplin 55); Smith (Hunt 73)
Goals: Smith 10, 37, 54
Booked: Barton, Close
Sub not used: Hall

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 1,534 (270 Pompey fans)


Portsmouth FC

Aug 272016
 

Match Report

League Two


Exeter City 0    1 Portsmouth

Roberts the penalty hero

Gary Roberts fired home a late penalty as Pompey won at Exeter to secure a second successive victory.

They had seen plenty of the ball without carving out too many clear-cut openings, but a third goal in two games from Roberts was enough to settle the contest.

Exeter poured forward in search of a leveller and the Blues were forced to hold on to claim a maximum haul in Devon.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that beat Colchester the previous week.

Milan Lalkovic replaced Kyle Bennett wide on the left, while Adam Barton dropped to the bench to make way for Tom Davies in the centre of defence.

The game started at a frantic pace, with both sides looking to get forward whenever possible.

There was a scary moment for the visitors when David Forde failed to hold Lloyd James’ free-kick, but referee Gavin Ward spotted a push on the keeper.

Pompey soon settled, though, and began to assert themselves on the Grecians, with a slip from 15-year-old defender Ethan Ampadu almost letting in Curtis Main.

Roberts then found space to burst forward, but he dragged his shot wide of the post to let Exeter off the hook.

Enda Stevens was sending in some decent crosses from the left and one was brilliantly held by keeper Bobby Olejnik, with Roberts waiting to pounce at the far post.

The Blues were beginning to dominate proceedings without really carving out anything clear-cut and when space opened up for Main, the striker drilled straight into Olejnik’s arms.

It was a similar story when Carl Baker cut inside from the right and then fired a shot into the side netting.

But one fine move almost resulted in an opener on 18 minutes, starting with Stevens nutmegging Jake Taylor down the left.

Lalkovic picked the ball up out wide and his low cross was met by Main, only for a sweeping effort to be blocked by Troy Brown.

There was another golden opportunity midway through the first half when Roberts delivered a superb free-kick, only for Christian Burgess to glance it wide.

Danny Rose was given the chance to break forward at regular intervals and his fierce long-range strike appeared to be heading for the net until Brown bravely got his face in the way.

Exeter had offered little at the other end of the pitch, but did carve open one good chance before the break.

Connor Riley-Lowe’s cross was helped on by Joel Grant, with Forde doing well to deny Liam McAlinden from close range.

It was Pompey who had the final say, however, as Rose shot narrowly over before Roberts – at full stretch – was unable to convert Stevens’ ball with a diving header.


Half Time

Exeter City 0

Portsmouth 0


The second half was slow to get going, but it was the Blues who carved out the first decent opening on 56 minutes.

A quickly-taken free-kick found its way to Lalkovic on the left and his pin-point delivery was headed narrowly wide by Main.

Michael Doyle then fed the ball to Main on the edge of the box, only for an excellent Ampadu block to deny the striker.

Pompey made their first switch just past the hour mark and it was a popular one with the travelling support as Conor Chaplin replaced Baker.

The teenager made an immediate impact, as he latched onto Roberts’ pass, beat Ampadu and saw a curling shot deflected narrowly past the post.

It was Exeter who came close to celebrating a goal on 68 minutes, however, following a quick break up the pitch.

Ollie Watkins did well to pick out Grant inside the box and Burgess was forced to divert the ball behind for a corner.

The Blues then made their final two changes, with Main and Lalkovic making way for Noel Hunt and Kal Naismith.

The former almost improvised a goal just moments after entering the fray, using his body to turn Chaplin’s shot on target, but seeing the effort blocked.

And Naismith was then just about able to reach Roberts’ corner and send the ball back into the mix, but it was just out of reach for Chaplin to get a shot away.

But the pressure finally produced a goal on 85 minutes and it was Naismith who created it.

The substitute latched onto a long Burgess pass forward and charged into the box, only to be brought down by Pierce Sweeney.

Ward immediately pointed to the spot and ROBERTS stepped up to slam the ball straight down the middle, with James and Sweeney both booked for complaining about the decision.

But Sweeney almost made amends at the other end of the pitch, with a deflection taking the power out of his shot and allowing Forde to save.

The keeper then made another key stop to deny Watkins in stoppage-time, while Doyle kept out an effort from the same player with a brilliant block as Pompey held on to claim all three points.

Exeter (3-4-3): Olejnik; Sweeney, Brown, Ampadu (Oakley 76); Taylor, James (c), Tillson (Grant 21), Riley-Lowe; Watkins, McAlinden (Simpson 57), Harley
Booked: Harley, James, Sweeney, Riley-Lowe
Subs not used: Pym, Egan, Byrne, Jay

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Talbot, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Chaplin 64), Roberts, Lalkovic (Naismith 74); Main (Hunt 74)
Goals: Roberts 85 (pen)
Subs not used: O’Brien, Barton, Linganzi, Evans

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 4,512 (1,215 Pompey fans)