Match Report

Mar 052016
 

Stevenage 0 v 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 Pompey 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
Mar 012016
 
League 2
Exeter City 1 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Late shock denies Blues

Pompey suffered more late heartache as Ollie Watkins snatched a 90th-minute leveller for Exeter at St James Park.

Conor Chaplin’s neat first half finish looked to have ensured that the visitors would be taking all three points home from Devon.

Jayden Stockley had been the biggest threat for the Grecians, but missed a hat-trick of chances to punish his former side.

Instead it was Watkins who found the target just before the end to break the hearts of the travelling support.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that beat Cambridge at Fratton Park at the weekend.

His Exeter counterpart Paul Tisdale – presented with an award before kick-off in recognition of passing 500 games in charge of the club – restored former Blues loanees Lee Holmes and Stockley to the starting line-up.

The game was just 22 seconds old when Chaplin missed a great opportunity to break the deadlock by mis-controlling Kal Naismith’s cross.

Christian Burgess was also off target with a header in the opening stages, while the ferocity of Holmes’ pass back to Bobby Olejnik almost caught the goalkeeper out.

There were not an abundance of clear-cut openings, but it was still Pompey looking the more likely to score as the first half progressed.

Doyle drew a smart stop from Olejnik with a 30-yard volley on 25 minutes after a corner had only been cleared as far as the visiting skipper.

But Stockley then should have punished his former side, only to guide Christian Ribeiro’s cross straight into the arms of Ryan Fulton.

And he was made to pay for his profligacy moments later, as Pompey went up the other end of the pitch to take the lead.

It was a fine effort from CHAPLIN, who neatly chested the ball down on the edge of the box before steering it into the bottom corner.

He might have had a second soon after, bursting inside to collect Marc McNulty’s cut-back, but failing to make a clean connection.

Exeter did enjoy a spell of pressure late in the half and Stockley again wasted a good opportunity by glancing another Ribeiro cross wide.

Watkins then cut inside and unleashed a curling drive that Fulton did well to parry clear before the ball was hacked to safety.

Half Time: Exeter 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The second half was slow to spark into life, although a corner for the hosts did lead to a melee in the Blues box.

Pompey were not offering too much at the other end either and Naismith’s long-range effort flew over after the winger had wriggled past a couple of challenges.

They almost doubled their lead in comical fashion on the hour mark, however, thanks to some wonderful improvisation by Chaplin.

The teenager was left on the floor after colliding with Olejnik in a race for the ball, but still managed to scramble a shot inches past the post.

That seemed to shake the Grecians into action and a Stockley header had to be cleared behind by Burgess.

The resulting corner then made its way to the striker’s feet inside the box, but his flicked effort just about went wide.

And that proved to be Stockley’s last chance to make an impact as he was withdrawn with Troy Brown in a double switch for Exeter on 65 minutes.

Pompey were next to go close after Naismith was barged over by Watkins right on the edge of the area.

Chaplin stepped up to take the free-kick, but although his effort curled over the wall, it also cleared the crossbar.

Cook looked to shore things up on 79 minutes, with goalscorer Chaplin making way for Gareth Evans.

And more valuable seconds were used up a few moments later as Adam Barton was introduced for Kyle Bennett.

There was a scary moment when the ball found its way to Alex Nicholls in the box late on, only for the midfielder to blaze his shot high over the bar.

But it looked like the Blues had done enough to hold off the Grecians until Watkins shimmied into space and angled home into the net.

Exeter might even have snatched a winner deep into stoppage-time, but Nicholls’ free-kick was turned around the post by Fulton.

Exeter (4-3-2-1): Olejnik; Ribeiro (Morrison 79), Brown (Grant 65), Moore-Taylor (c), Woodman; Nicholls, Oakley, Watkins; Wheeler, Holmes; Stockley (Noble 65)
Goals: Watkins 90
Subs not used: Pym, Tillson, McAllister, Taylor

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Naismith, Chaplin (Evans 79), Bennett (Barton 82); McNulty
Goals: Chaplin 31
Booked: Burgess
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Clarke, Haunstrup, Tollitt

Referee: Brendan Malone

Attendance: 3,855 (695 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 272016
 

Portsmouth 2 v 1 Cambridge United

Marc McNulty and Adam Webster were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways against Cambridge.

It was not the most free-flowing of performances, but it was still the hosts who created most of the game’s best chances.

And – after the past two games yielded a solitary point – there was a sense of relief when McNulty opened the scoring just before the break.

United failed to cause Ryan Fulton many problems and it was left for Webster to secure all three points midway through the second half.

That was despite a few late nerves when Cambridge skipper Luke Berry pulled one back in the closing stages.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that were beaten at Barnet during the week.

Conor Chaplin was handed his first start in more than four months, while Christian Burgess returned after serving a one-match ban.

Kal Naismith and a fit-again Danny Hollands featured in midfield, with Matt Clarke and Ben Close, as well as the injured duo of Adam McGurk and Michael Smith, making way.

The hosts made a bright start and Chaplin fired wide from a tight angle after both Kyle Bennett and Naismith had their paths to goal blocked.

Leon Legge then did well to cut the ball out after McNulty stole possession and tried to thread a pass through to Chaplin.

But the contest quickly descended into a scrappy affair, with a number of niggly challenges drawing a shrill whistle from referee Oliver Langford.

Jimmy Spencer was finally shown a yellow card after one foul too many, while Ben Davies quickly followed him into the book.

Cambridge then had their best chance of the half, with Ben Williamson’s low cross going just behind the onrushing Berry.

But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 41 minutes and, unsurprisingly, it came from a free-kick after McNulty had been upended.

Michael Doyle slipped the ball through to McNULTY, who brought it under control before rocketing a shot into the roof of the net.

Spencer was then slightly fortunate to remain on the pitch following a foul on Enda Stevens, with United boss Shaun Derry preparing a substitution before eventually deciding to wait until the break.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Cambridge 0

As expected, Spencer did not return for the start of the second half , with the striker wisely making way for Ryan Donaldson.

But it was the Blues who were first to threaten after the restart, with Bennett dragging a shot narrowly wide.

The half took a while to spark into life, however, with neither side looking particularly creative going forward.

But Pompey began to pick up as time went on and Chaplin was not quite able to pick out McNulty with a low cross.

Hollands’ drive was then kept out by Cambridge keeper Will Norris following a neat cut-back by Stevens.

And the hosts did double their advantage just past the hour mark to relieve any tension around the ground

It was Webster who started and finished the move, bringing the ball out of defence before finding Bennett.

The winger was unfortunate not to score himself with a fierce strike that Norris expertly tipped onto the crossbar.

But WEBSTER was following up to hook the ball home and send the Fratton faithful wild with delight.

Cook was forced into his first change on 73 minutes, with Naismith picking up a knock and being replaced by Gareth Evans.

Cambridge did reduce the deficit late on when a free-kick was headed back by Mark Roberts for Berry to score.

But the Blues saw out five minutes of stoppage-time to secure the win and move back into the League Two play-off places.

Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Naismith (Evans 73), Hollands, Doyle (c), Bennett (Tollitt 90+2); Chaplin (Clarke 87), McNulty
Goals: McNulty 41, Webster 62
Booked: Davies, McNulty, Chaplin
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Haunstrup, Barton

Cambridge (4-1-4-1): Norris; Furlong, Legge (Roberts 85), Coulson, Haynes; O’Neill (Simpson 56); Williamson, Berry (c), Ledson, Dunk; Spencer (Donaldson 46)
Goals: Berry 90
Booked: Spencer, Berry, Legge
Subs not used: Beasant, Omozusi, Keane

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 15,425 (587 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 232016
 

Barnet 1 v 0 Portsmouth

Pompey’s promotion hopes took another blow as they slipped to defeat at Barnet.

It was former Blues striker John Akinde who grabbed the only goal of the game from the penalty spot late in the first half.

The visitors improved after the interval and Adam McGurk went closest in their ultimately unsuccessful attempt to find an equaliser.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that drew with Yeovil at the weekend.

Marc McNulty came in up front, with Michael Smith dropping to the bench, while there were also starts for Matt Clarke and McGurk in place of the suspended Christian Burgess and injured Gareth Evans.

Pompey struggled to deal with Barnet’s physical style in the first half and lacked any real fluidity going forward.

There were no real scoring chances in the opening stages and the only noteworthy moment was an early substitution.

Gary Roberts hurt his hamstring in a challenge after just eight minutes and had to be replaced by Kal Naismith.

The first opportunity fell to the hosts, with Ryan Fulton just about preventing a Sam Muggleton corner from creeping in at the near post.

Akinde then raced onto a long ball forward, but – under pressure from Adam Webster – could only hit a tame effort straight at Fulton.

But excitement was thin on the ground in a largely attritional and niggly encounter that failed to spark.

Both sides realised that shots from long-range might be the best way to break the deadlock and swerving efforts from Naismith and Mark Randall were just about dealt with by the respective keepers.

Instead, the opening goal came from the penalty mark and arrived after Ben Davies’ gained too many yards from a throw to see possession overturned.

The ball was launched into the Blues box, where Webster was adjudged to have tripped Akinde.

Referee Philip Gibbs pointed straight to the spot and it was Akinde stepped up to coolly slot the ball into the bottom corner.

That seemed to jolt Pompey into life and Bondz N’Gala made a vital block to deny McNulty before Jamie Stephens gathered McGurk’s long-range strike at the second attempt.

Half Time: Barnet 1 Pompey 0

The visitors made a sloppy start to the second half, but Mathew Stevens was unable to capitalise on some poor defending.

They almost drew level moments later, however, with McGurk rising above his marker to meet Davies’ cross and draw a fingertip save from Stephens.

A deep free-kick from Naismith then somehow evaded everyone as it curled frustratingly out of play.

Cook made his second switch on the hour mark – and it was an attacking one as Ben Close made way for Smith.

But it was Naismith who should have levelled moments later, firing over the bar after being picked out by McNulty’s cut-back.

Clarke was next to go close on 66 minutes when he met Naismith’s free-kick from the left and saw his header saved by Stephens.

Pompey were looking much more of a threat now and it took a last-gasp clearance by Michael Nelson to get Davies’ low cross to safety.

Cook made his final throw of the dice on 78 minutes, bringing on Conor Chaplin in place of McNulty.

He was soon into the action after being bundled over by Tom Champion, only to see his free-kick punched clear by Stephens.

The Blues kept pushing forward in the closing stages, but their large travelling support – who made up more than half of the total attendance – were not to be rewarded.

Barnet (4-2-3-1): Stephens; Pearson, N’Gala, Nelson, Muggleton; Randall (Vilhete 62), Champion; Yiadom (c), Stevens (Togwell 52), Weston; Akinde (Sesay 84)
Goals: Akinde 41 (pen)
Booked: Champion, Randall, Yiadom, Muggleton
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Shomotun, Gambin, Hackett

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Close (Smith 60), Doyle (c); McGurk, Roberts (Naismith 8), Bennett; McNulty (Chaplin 78)
Booked: Webster
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Barton, Hollands

Referee: Philip Gibbs

Attendance: 2,557 (1,330 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 202016
 

Yeovil Town 1 v 1 Portsmouth

Pompey snatched a point at Yeovil, thanks to a late strike from Gary Roberts.

That came after Christian Burgess had been sent off for collecting a couple of bookings in the space of a few seconds.

Francois Zoko had earlier pounced to give the struggling Glovers hope of claiming all three points.

But the Blues were determined not to leave empty-handed and Roberts’ intervention ensured that would not be the case.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that eased to victory against Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park the previous week.

Kal Naismith was added to the list of substitutes, however, as Conor Chaplin nursed an ankle injury.

The game started brightly and both sides looked dangerous on the break, without either keeper being tested.

But it soon became an extremely disjointed affair, with Pompey struggling to find any fluidity going forward.

Kyle Bennett had a couple of half-chances, first unable to turn Michael Smith’s cross on target and then fizzing a low shot inches past the post.

And the winger went close again on 28 minutes, firing narrowly over after Artur Krysiak had punched clear a corner from Ben Davies.

Both sides were starting to grow frustrated by the lack of creativity and Smith and Connor Roberts received a talking to from referee Mark Haywood following a spot of handbags.

The closest either side came to breaking the deadlock arrived on 37 minutes – and it would have been a comical goal.

Burgess inadvertently diverted Liam Walsh’s poor effort towards its intended target, but the defender recovered well to hack the ball off the line.

And Cook was then forced into a change when Gareth Evans suffered a knock and was replaced by Ben Tollitt.

Half Time: Yeovil 0 Pompey 0

Pompey looked sharper once the second half got underway and came close to forging ahead on 51 minutes.

It was a neat move, with Smith picking out Tollitt with a fine cross-field ball and the substitute cutting along the edge of the box before sliding a pass through to Roberts.

The latter hit a low shot that was heading for the bottom corner before Krysiak stuck out a hand to push the ball clear.

Ben Close then came close to opening his Blues account with a low 30-yard shot that was inches off target.

However, the visitors almost fell behind after losing possession in the centre on 59 minutes.

The ball made its way to Zoko in the box, but Ryan Fulton was quickly off his line to make a vital save.

With the hosts starting to take control, Cook made his second switch of the afternoon, with Bennett making way for Marc McNulty.

But Yeovil broke the deadlock on 75 minutes when Walsh’s corner led to a scramble in the Blues box and Zoko eventually forced the ball home.

Pompey tried to find a route back into the game and Burgess saw his header deflected wide after meeting a free-kick from Davies.

But their afternoon got worse when Burgess was booked twice in the space of just a few seconds to leave the visitors with 10 men.

He was first punished for an off-the-ball tussle and then received his marching orders for bringing down Ryan Dickson on the edge of the box.

That looked to have ended the Blues’ hopes of getting anything from the game, but they found themselves level on 85 minutes.

It was a fine finish from inside the box from ROBERTS, who left Krysiak with no chance to send the large travelling support wild with delight.

McNulty then had a shot deflected wide in stoppage-time before a frantic second half was brought to a close.

Yeovil (4-1-4-1): Krysiak; Roberts, Ward (c), Sokolik, Dickson; Tozer; Cornick (Gillett 86), Walsh, Dolan, Campbell (Goodship 69); Zoko (Bird 90+2)
Goals: Zoko 75
Booked: Tozer
Subs not used: Weale, Lacey, Laird

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Close, Doyle (c); Evans (Tollitt 41), Roberts, Bennett (McNulty 73); Smith (McGurk 81)
Goals: Roberts 85
Sent off: Burgess (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Naismith

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 6,051 (2,088 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 132016
 

Portsmouth 3 v 1 Bristol Rovers

Pompey returned to form in stunning style as they romped to victory over promotion rivals Bristol Rovers.

They had already carved out a host of opportunities when Gareth Evans broke the deadlock midway through the first half.

Michael Smith then opened his Blues account by converting a cross from the excellent Ben Davies just before the interval.

And Marc McNulty came off the bench to add a third in the second half for the rampant hosts.

The margin of victory could – and perhaps should – have been greater, but a combination of wasteful finishing and superb goalkeeping denied them even more goals.

And a fine free-kick from Lee Brown late on for the visitors proved nothing more than a consolation.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side beaten by Leyton Orient the previous week.

Evans replaced McNulty, as Pompey reverted to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system, with Smith leading the line.

There were also a couple of switches in the defence, as Kieron Freeman and Matt Clarke made way for Davies and Adam Webster.

The first half was an entertaining, end-to-end affair, although it was the hosts who carved out the better chances.

Pirates keeper Steve Mildenhall made a stunning save in the opening seconds, somehow managing to claw away Christian Burgess’ header.

That came from a Davies corner and the right-back delivered another cross moments later that was nervously dealt with by the visitors’ defence.

The Blues certainly looked hungry and one flowing passing move involved Smith, Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts, but the latter’s cut-back was intercepted.

Mildenhall was then Rovers’ saviour once more, this time doing well to deny Bennett at his near post.

But the keeper could do nothing to prevent Pompey from taking a deserved lead on 19 minutes.

Smith played a superb cross-field pass to Davies and his ball into the box was deftly flicked home by EVANS.

Rory Gaffney came close to levelling when he rattled the crossbar at the other end, although it would have been a controversial goal, as Roberts was lying injured on the turf.

Rovers had certainly grown into the game and it took a fine challenge by Webster to halt Daniel Leadbitter’s dangerous run.

It was still Pompey looking most dangerous, however, and Smith could not quite sneak a shot past Mildenhall after collecting Webster’s raking pass.

Evans and Roberts should both have done better late in the half, with the duo failing to find the target from close range.

But any feelings of frustration were lifted when the hosts did double their advantage in the third minute of stoppage-time.

It was Davies who provided the assist once again, collecting the loose ball after his corner had been blocked and picking out SMITH to head home his first Blues goal.

Half Time: Pompey 2 Bristol Rovers 0

Evans had an early attempt once the second half got underway and Mildenhall had to tip the ball over the bar.

He then tried a more acrobatic effort after connecting with Bennett’s cross, but this time it flew wide.

The visitors were looking nervous and Tom Lockyer had to hack clear after Mildenhall and Tom Parkes made a mess of dealing with Davies’ low cross on 50 minutes.

And Smith really should have added to his goalscoring account soon after, somehow sliding wide from a few yards out when Roberts’ pass found him unmarked in the box.

The same duo then combined again, but this time Mildenhall came tearing off his line to deny Smith.

Cook made his first change on 69 minutes and it was the tiring Smith who made way for McNulty up front.

Adam McGurk then came on for the impressive Roberts as the game began to drift towards a conclusion.

But it exploded back into life on 77 minutes when McNULTY latched onto Bennett’s threaded pass and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

It almost got worse for the ailing Pirates, only for Mildenhall to once again make a stunning save to deny Evans from point-blank range.

McGurk almost got in act as well, but his curling effort was diverted over the bar by the head of Brown.

Instead it was Rovers who grabbed a late consolation when Brown hammered home a ferocious free-kick from the edge of the box.

But that failed to dampen the spirits of the Fratton faithful, who saw their side return to the top seven on a comfortable afternoon.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Close, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 75), Bennett (Chaplin 86); Smith (McNulty 69)
Goals: Evans 19, Smith 45+3, McNulty 77
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Tollitt

Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): Mildenhall; Leadbitter, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Sinclair, Mansell (c) (Montano 55), Lawrence (Lines 77); Bodin, Gaffney, Easter (Taylor 55)
Goals: Brown 90+1
Booked: Easter, Brown, Montano, Lockyer
Subs not used: Puddy, McChrystal, Clarke, Fallon

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Attendance: 17,808 (2,863 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 062016
 

Portsmouth 0 v 1 Leyton Orient

A stunning strike from Jobi McAnuff saw Pompey’s promotion charge stutter once more.

Leyton Orient leapfrogged their opponents in the table after limiting the hosts to few clear-cut chances.

Marc McNulty had the best of them before the break, but it was the Londoners who looked more likely to add to the scoring.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that drew at Morecambe during the week.

Kieron Freeman was brought in for his debut at right-back, while Christian Burgess, Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett all returned to the starting line-up.

Adam Webster – who was carrying a slight hamstring strain – dropped to the bench, along with Ben Davies and Gareth Evans, while Kal Naismith missed out completely.

Former Pompey loanee Alex Cisak started between the sticks for the visitors, but there was no place in their side for Nigel Atangana.

The Blues came roaring out of the blocks and McNulty drew a save from Cisak in the opening few seconds.

Then, at the other end of the pitch, Sammy Moore’s delivery from the right was deflected onto the roof of the net.

Those incidents did not foreshadow a half of scintillating football, however, with the game soon turning into a drab affair.

The crowd did their best to lift the mood at a blustery Fratton Park, but chances were thin on the ground.

Pompey did spark into life around the half-hour mark when Cisak came charging off his line to deny McNulty following good work from Bennett.

Freeman was then not quite able to pick out Roberts with a raking pass in a move that began with a lovely bit of trickery by Ben Close.

Ryan Fulton had not been troubled in Pompey’s goal, but Orient did carve out a couple of chances before the break.

McAnuff was the creator for both, with his crosses headed into the side netting by Mathieu Baudry and narrowly wide by Moore.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Leyton Orient 0

Pompey had an opportunity just after the restart when the rampaging Freeman was felled wide on the right.

He took the free-kick quickly and Roberts’ cut-back was intercepted, with Freeman hitting the loose ball wide.

But Orient wasted an excellent chance to break the deadlock moments later – and it was their manager who was left hanging his head.

Burgess made a great block to deny Jack Payne, but the ball sat up nicely for Kevin Nolan, who somehow managed to hit the bar from a few yards out.

His blushes were spared on 53 minutes, however, thanks to a stunning strike from McAnuff.

Jay Simpson’s path to goal was blocked and the ball sat up for the winger, who fired home an unstoppable first time shot from 25 yards.

Cook made his first change on the hour mark, with home debutant Michael Smith making way for Evans and Pompey reverting to their usual 4-2-3-1 system.

They soon had an opening when Bennett’s free-kick from the left made its way through a crowded box without anyone managing to get a touch.

But it was Orient who almost doubled their lead on 66 minutes, with Simpson hooking over from close range after Fulton had kept out Nolan’s header.

Simpson went close again moments later when he met McAnuff’s cross with a diving header that flew straight at Fulton.

Pompey soon made a double change to try to inject some attacking impetus, with Conor Chaplin and Adam McGurk on for Bennett and McNulty.

Referee Graham Salisbury booked Cisak for time-wasting as the visitors looked to see out the closing stages.

Pompey were desperately trying to get the ball into the box and Chaplin’s header was deflected wide from Roberts’ corner.

But it was Orient who almost scored near the end when Armand Gnanduillet met a cross at the far post and volleyed against the woodwork.

And McGurk and Michael Doyle were both denied by brave Nicky Hunt blocks deep into stoppage-time as the visitors held on to secure all three points.

Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Freeman, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Roberts, Close, Doyle (c), Bennett (Chaplin 73); McNulty (McGurk 73), Smith (Evans 60)
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Bass, Davies, Webster, Barton

Leyton Orient (4-1-4-1): Cisak; Hunt, Baudry (c), Brisley, Shaw; Payne; McAnuff, Moore (Clohessy 73), Nolan (Pritchard 70), Jahraldo-Martin; Simpson (Gnanduillet 80)
Goals: McAnuff 53
Booked: Cisak
Subs not used: Sargeant, Essam, Binnom-Williams, Palmer

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 15,643 (1,031 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 022016
 

Morecombe 1 v 1 Portsmouth

Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche headed home a last-gasp leveller to cruelly deny Pompey victory at a gusty Globe Arena.

The Blues were seconds away from brushing off their FA Cup disappointment by returning to winning ways in the league.

Gareth Evans struck late in the first half and it looked like it would be enough to secure all three points in a game of few chances.

But Roche came up for a corner in the final minute of stoppage-time to grab an unlikely equaliser.

Paul Cook made four changes from the outfit that were narrowly beaten by Bournemouth at the weekend.

Deadline day loan signing Michael Smith was thrown straight into a side that was set-up in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation.

Winger Kal Naismith was a surprise inclusion, making his first Pompey appearance for almost three months.

There were also starts for Adam Webster and Evans, as Christian Burgess, Gary Roberts, Kyle Bennett and Adam McGurk all dropped to the bench.

The visitors made a bright start and Andy Parrish was well-placed to clear Marc McNulty’s low cross before it could reach a blue-shirted player.

Evans then stole possession in a dangerous position, but could not quite thread a pass through to McNulty.

Webster was grateful to Ryan Fulton at the other end on 13 minutes after his sliced clearance was claimed by the teenage keeper.

But Pompey were soon back on the attack and Smith could not get enough power on his shot to trouble Roche after collecting Enda Stevens’ free-kick and turning sharply in the box.

The Morecambe keeper then almost gave Morecambe the lead in farcical fashion when his goal-kick caught a strong gust of wind.

A back-pedalling Fulton just about managed to grab the ball under his crossbar and had to palm it away to stop his momentum taking it over the line.

The conditions were making life difficult for both sides, with the gusts and bobbly pitch not exactly conducive for the Blues’ usual passing game.

But they almost forged ahead on 28 minutes when Webster met Naismith’s corner and saw his angled volley cleared from the line by Kevin Ellison.

Debutant Smith then went close with a curling effort that was deflected narrowly past the post.

The wind aside, Fulton was not being overly troubled and a long-range strike from Tom Barkhuizen flew straight into his arms.

Pompey were looking more threatening, however, and the hardy bunch of travelling fans soon had something to celebrate.

Their side might have taken the lead on 39 minutes, but McNulty blazed over after being sent through by Ben Close.

They only had to wait a few more seconds for a goal, however, as Naismith did well to tee-up EVANS for a cool finish.

Smith tried to add another before the break, but his fierce effort from distance fizzed narrowly past the post.

Half Time: Morecambe 0 Pompey 1

Pompey continued to look the more dangerous side once the second half started and soon had a couple of openings.

First McNulty burst into the box, only to see his low centre cut out by Parrish before it could reach a team-mate.

And the wind was then playing its old tricks when Close’s corner landed on the crossbar and was bundled away by Roche.

The Blues kept up the pressure and Naismith’s free-kick clipped the top of the wall after Andrew Fleming had been booked for handling just outside the box.

Morecambe were not doing enough to threaten the visitors’ lead, but Luke Conlan finally found space down the left 70 minutes, only for his low cross to evade everyone on its way out of play.

Cook made a double switch moments later, with Naismith and Smith making way for Bennett and Roberts.

But the tide was starting to turn in the Shrimps’ favour and they were forcing their opponents into some sloppy passing.

And the hosts were not too far away from an equaliser on 81 minutes when Jamie Devitt curled a shot onto the roof of the net.

McGurk came on for McNulty for the closing stages as Cook decided to freshen up his forward line.

Pompey looked to have hung on for the win when Fulton flung himself to the left and kept out Lee Molyneux’s strike in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

But there was still time for Roche to rush forward for the resulting corner and grab a point for Morecambe.

Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Beeley (c), Dugdale, Parrish, Conlan; Goodall, Fleming; Barkhuizen, Devitt (Molyneux 82), Ellison (Mullin 75); Miller
Goals: Roche 90+4
Booked: Fleming, Beeley
Subs not used: O’Hara, Edwards, Wilson, Doyle

Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Evans, Close, Doyle (c), Naismith (Bennett 72); Smith (Roberts 72), McNulty (McGurk 83)
Goals: Evans 40
Booked: Clarke
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Barton, Chaplin

Referee: Richard Clark

Attendance: 1,399 (479 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 302016
 
FA Cup 4
Portsmouth 1 – 2 AFC Bournemouth

 

Pompey lose to Premier opposition

Pompey were not quite able to cause an Emirates FA Cup upset against Premier League opposition at Fratton Park.

But the hosts can be proud of their efforts against Bournemouth – as well as their attractive passing football.

A shock looked on the cards when Gary Roberts deservedly fired the Blues ahead just before the interval.

But Joshua King and Marc Pugh were on target in the second half to ensure the Blues’ cup adventure ended at the fourth round.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side beaten by Oxford in the league the previous week.

Christian Burgess, Ben Close and Adam McGurk all came into the starting 11, with Adam Webster, Adam Barton and Gareth Evans dropping to the bench.

It was the League Two side who looked more threatening in the opening stages, with Marc McNulty causing plenty of problems.

One of his surges forward was only halted by the presence of former Fratton favourite Sylvain Distin, while a shot moments later flew narrowly wide.

Pompey also won a couple of corners in quick succession that caused problems in the Bournemouth back-line.

The visitors had to rely on Adam Federici to keep the scores level on 19 minutes, with the keeper getting down sharply to tip behind McNulty’s long-range effort.

Bournemouth, unsurprisingly, improved as the game progressed and Eunan O’Kane curled a free-kick wide after Burgess had been booked for a foul on Glenn Murray.

Ryan Fulton then made a super save, getting down low to his left to turn Juan Iturbe’s drive onto the post.

But it was the Blues who finished the half with a flourish and it was a patient passing move that led to them taking the lead on 43 minutes.

The Cherries could not win back possession as their opponents selfishly kept hold of the ball and the move ended with McNulty squaring for ROBERTS to slide home.

Fratton Park erupted with jubilation as the midfielder wheeled away to celebrate and there were more cheers when referee Mike Dean blew for the interval soon after.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Bournemouth 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey remained on the attack once the second half got started, although Dean was not convinced by Enda Stevens’ optimistic penalty appeals.

Ben Davies then curled a 30-yard free-kick over the wall, but Federici was able to keep hold of the ball.

And Kyle Bennett did brilliantly to skip past Shaun MacDonald’s challenge and feed Roberts, who was almost falling to the ground as he dragged a shot wide.

Bournemouth responded with a double change, with Matt Ritchie getting warm applause from all four sides of the ground as he came on alongside Pugh.

And Cook made two switches of his own, as Roberts and Burgess made way for Evans and Webster.

The latter was immediately involved in the action, making a vital interception to stop King’s low ball reaching its intended target.

But the Cherries were level on 71 minutes when Davies conceded a free-kick wide on the left and O’Kane’s delivery was glanced home by King.

Pompey had a chance to restore their lead through a set-piece of their own moments later when McNulty was felled.

Bennett stepped up to take the free-kick and his shot was claimed right underneath the crossbar by Federici.

Cook made his final throw of the dice on 77 minutes, with Ben Tollitt replacing McGurk on the wing.

Both sides seemed keen to avoid a replay and were not content to simply sit back and defend.

It took a fine challenge from Matt Clarke to stop Lewis Grabban from firing the Cherries ahead from just a couple of yards out on 83 minutes.

But they did score just seconds later when, after Fulton had saved superbly from Grabban, substitute Pugh was on hand to convert.

Pompey tried their best to find a late equaliser, but it was the Premier League side who held on to book their place in Sunday’s draw.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess (Webster 62), Clarke, Stevens; Close, Doyle (c); McGurk (Tollitt 77), Roberts (Evans 62), Bennett; McNulty
Goals: Roberts 43
Booked: Burgess
Subs not used: Jones, Barton, Naismith, Chaplin

Bournemouth (4-4-1-1): Federici; Smith, Elphick (c) (Francis 77), Distin, Cargill; Iturbe (Pugh 62), O’Kane, MacDonald, King; Grabban; Murray (Ritchie 62)
Goals: King 71, Pugh 83
Booked: O’Kane
Subs not used: Allsop, Simpson, Wakefield, Butcher

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 18,901 (2,885 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 232016
 

Portsmouth 0 v 1 Oxford United

Pompey lost ground on the automatic promotion places with a 1-0 home defeat to Oxford.

Jordan Bowery came off the bench to score the only goal of the game late on at a packed Fratton Park.

Goalkeeper Ryan Fulton had earlier conceded and then saved a penalty in a memorable debut for the teenager.

The Blues’ best chance came before the break when Marc McNulty’s effort was cleared off the line.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that knocked Ipswich out of the FA Cup earlier in the week.

Fulton was thrown straight into the side after completing his loan switch from Liverpool the previous day.

He replaced the injured Brian Murphy in goal, while Christian Burgess made way for Matt Clarke in defence.

Oxford, meanwhile, were without former Fratton striker Ryan Taylor, with ex-Pompey boss Michael Appleton moving top scorer Kemar Roofe up front.

The game began at a frantic pace and continued in that vein for the rest of the first half.

But the Fratton faithful were not happy with a number of decisions by Neil Swarbrick and gave the referee a standing ovation when he finally awarded their side a free-kick.

The visitors looked an attacking threat, although Fulton was not being overworked on his debut.

He did, however, have to come charging out of his box on 16 minutes to beat Danny Hylton to the ball.

Johnny Mullins and Roofe both headed over from set-pieces, while George Baldock fired a shot into the side netting.

But it was the Blues who almost broke the deadlock on 19 minutes after Gary Roberts and McNulty traded clever passes inside the box.

The latter then controlled the ball neatly before firing in a shot that Jake Wright had to clear from the line.

Kyle Bennett also came close with a 20-yard free-kick that was deflected narrowly over the crossbar.

The game was still being played at a breathtaking speed as the interval drew nearer, but the closest Oxford came to a goal was when Liam Sercombe drilled wide.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Oxford 0

The pace did not let up following the restart and United were given a chance to forge ahead on 51 minutes.

Hylton burst into the box and Fulton caught the striker as he tried to beat him to the ball, with Swarbrick immediately pointing to the spot.

But the keeper went from villain to hero, diving to his right to save Sercombe’s penalty and then brilliantly recovering to stop him converting the loose ball.

Cook made his first substitution soon after, with Adam Barton making way for Ben Close in midfield.

Pompey then won a couple of corners, with Ben Davies’ delivery for the second just too high for Adam Webster at the far post.

Cook injected a fresh attacking impetus into his side on 63 minutes, as Adam McGurk came on for Roberts.

It was Close who lined up a long-range drive moments later, however, only to see his shot blocked before it could reach the goal.

The Blues were now on top, but Roofe caused concern at the other end when he swung in a free-kick from wide on the left that somehow evaded everyone on its way out of play.

And it was Oxford who took the lead on 76 minutes when Bowery collected Wright’s long ball forward and guided a shot into the bottom corner.

Cook made one last throw of the dice by bringing on Conor Chaplin in place of McNulty in Pompey’s attack.

But it was McGurk who came closest to grabbing an equaliser, only to guide his header straight into the arms of United keeper Sam Slocombe.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Barton (Close 54), Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 63), Bennett; McNulty (Chaplin 82)
Subs not used: Jones, Burgess, Tollitt, Naismith

Oxford (4-4-2): Slocombe; Baldock, Mullins, Wright (c), Skarz; MacDonald (Bowery 69), Lundstram, Sercombe, O’Dowda (Evans 82); Hylton (Hoban 88), Roofe
Goals: Bowery 76
Booked: Mullins
Subs not used: Buchel, Long, Dunkley, Ruffels

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 17,840 (2,047 away fans)

Portsmouth FC