Match Report

Feb 282017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 1 Morecambe

 

Naismith strike not enough for victory

Pompey missed a chance to climb into the automatic promotion places after conceding a late equaliser against Morecambe.

It was the hosts showing all the ambition, although their dominance was receiving no reward as the Shrimps held firm.

But Kal Naismith came off the bench to break the deadlock after the interval and the points looked to have been secured.

Lee Molyneux spoiled the party, however, with a leveller to stop the Blues overhauling defeated Carlisle.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat their promotion rivals at the weekend.

And they immediately set about trying to attack their opponents, who were prepared to sit back and soak up the pressure.

The Blues were passing the ball around with style and were only let down by some wayward finishing.

But Morecambe were also indebted to their goalkeeper Barry Roche, who tipped over a Carl Baker shot before using his feet to deny Gary Roberts.

Roberts was dictating play in the middle of the park and played an exquisite pass through to Eoin Doyle, only for Alex Whitmore to come across and make a fine challenge.

There was not too much action at the other end of the pitch, although Christian Burgess headed off the line before referee Stephen Martin finally spotted his assistant flagging for a foul on David Forde.

It was soon the Blues back on the attack and when another fine Roberts pass released Gareth Evans, it took another Roche save to keep the scores level.

Kyle Bennett then sent a couple of long-range efforts narrowly off target, while Eoin Doyle headed over from a Baker cross.

But Morecambe almost forged ahead completely against the run of play on 32 minutes, with Forde doing brilliantly to stop Aaron Wildig from converting Paul Mullin’s cut-back.

Normality resumed for the rest of the half, but despite Pompey’s dominance, they couldn’t find a way through.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Morecambe 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Paul Merson was introduced to the crowd at half-time ahead of his induction into the club’s Hall of Fame.

And Roberts was certainly trying to match the former Blues star in the creativity stakes, with a low cross just about grabbed by Roche before it could reach Eoin Doyle.

But the second half was lacking the excitement of the first and Cook tried to liven things up with a substitution on 56 minutes, replacing Baker with Conor Chaplin.

Bennett and Roberts combined well as the hosts tried to find a breakthrough, although the latter’s ball was not quite right for Eoin Doyle.

Cook’s second switch saw Naismith replace Bennett on the left – and it paid instant dividends.

NAISMITH controlled Michael Doyle’s pass with his first touch and then, with his second, steered the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards.

The Blues continued to attack and Chaplin sent a snap-shot wide before Roberts saw his effort saved after being teed-up by Naismith.

But the game was drifting towards a conclusion, until Morecambe suddenly found themselves level on 83 minutes when the ball was worked across to Molyneux, who drove home a precise finish.

Pompey tried to hit back and the award of six additional minutes provided some hope that a winner could arrive.

But the Shrimps somehow survived a corner that ricocheted around their box to depart with a share of the spoils.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi (Rose 79), M.Doyle (c); Baker (Chaplin 56), Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 63); E.Doyle
Goals: Naismith 64
Booked: Roberts
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Lowe, Hunt

Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Wakefield (McGowan 72), Edwards, Whitmore, Molyneux; Fleming (Murphy 79), Rose (c); Turner (Conlan 55), Wildig, Ellison; Mullin
Goals: Molyneux 83
Booked: Rose
Subs not used: Nizic, Duckworth, Evans, Jordan

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 15,592 (71 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 252017
 
League 2
Carlisle United 0 – 3 Portsmouth

 

Roberts, Linganzi and Whatmough on target

A scintillating second half performance from Pompey saw them beat promotion rivals Carlisle at Brunton Park.

Goals from Gary Roberts, Amine Linganzi and Jack Whatmough ensured it was an enjoyable afternoon for the Blues in the north-west.

Neither side managed to take advantage of their chances in a first half that had plenty of talking points, but was short on quality.

It was the visitors who moved through the gears after the interval, however, and a fine strike from Roberts gave them a deserved lead.

Linganzi then opened his account for the club with another impressive strike to end Carlisle’s hopes of a comeback.

And Whatmough wrapped things up deep into stoppage-time with his first ever senior goal for the club.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that draw at Barnet the previous week.

Jamal Lowe dropped to the bench to make way for Carl Baker on the right hand side of Pompey’s attacking midfield trio.

The hosts had the ball in the net inside the first minute, but there were no celebrations from Jamie Proctor, as the linesman had long since raised his flag for offside.

Baker then tried his luck with a low shot at the other end, with Mark Gillespie getting down to beat the ball away.

Both sides were showing plenty of attacking intent, although the quality was lacking in the final third.

A slip from Christian Burgess almost let Reggie Lambe through on goal, but David Forde came charging from his area to reach the ball first.

United were then forced to make a change on 15 minutes, as a clash of heads saw Shaun Brisley replaced by Tom Miller.

There continued to be space for both sides to expose and Forde got down well to parry clear Nicky Adams’ angled drive.

The hosts then managed to work the ball across to the unmarked Miller on the right, only for Roberts to get a vital block in.

There was another piece of bad news for Carlisle on 36 minutes, however, when Michael Raynes picked up an injury and joined central defensive partner Brisley on the sidelines.

Pompey were looking more threatening as the first half progressed and Roberts curled a free-kick narrowly wide from just outside the box.

But the home support were outraged that their side were not awarded a penalty a few moments later.

Forde failed to collect a cross for the first time and in the ensuing scramble, the ball bounced up and hit Gareth Evans on the arm.

Referee Richard Clark ignored the desperate cries for a spot-kick to be awarded, agreeing with the Blues’ right-back that it had not been a deliberate offence.

And Pompey almost rubbed salt into the wounds by breaking the deadlock just before the interval.

Carlisle failed to deal with Evans’ low delivery into the box and the ball ricocheted into Eoin Doyle’s path, only for the striker to somehow clear the crossbar with the goal gaping.

Half Time: Carlisle 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Whatever Cook said to his players at the break appeared to do the trick as the visitors came charging out of the blocks.

And they had three excellent chances to open the scoring within the first three minutes of the second half.

First Enda Stevens got free down the left and his low cross was almost diverted into his own net by Gary Liddle.

Roberts teed-up Eoin Doyle to slot the ball home from close-range a few seconds later, but the striker had strayed into an offside decision.

And another effort from the loanee then took a massive deflection and was looping in until a back-pedalling Gillespie managed to tip it over.

It was not all one-way traffic, though, and Proctor should have guided the ball on target when he met Luke Joyce’s pin-point cross.

Pompey were then back on the attack and when Gillespie fumbled Linganzi’s header, Kyle Bennett’s follow-up was blocked.

The action continued at a hectic pace as the action once again switched to the other end, with Forde getting down to brilliantly turn Lambe’s shot around the post.

Cook made a double substitution – and a change of system – on 72 minutes, as he went in search of a breakthrough.

Whatmough and Conor Chaplin replaced Baker and Bennett, with Pompey switching to a 3-5-2 formation.

And the move paid dividends within seconds, although it was a man already on the pitch who fired the visitors ahead.

It was a fine solo effort for ROBERTS, who burst clear through the centre and beat Gillespie with an exquisite finish.

The midfielder received a warm round of applause as he made way for Kal Naismith for the final 10 minutes.

And the points were then wrapped up late on, courtesy of a 25-yard strike from LINGANZI that arrowed into the bottom corner.

There was a mixture of delight and relief from the 1,209 travelling fans, who had plenty to cheer in the stands.

But they had even more to celebrate in stoppage-time when Naismith picked out WHATMOUGH to drill his first goal for the club into the bottom corner.

Carlisle (4-2-3-1): Gillespie; Liddle, Raynes (c) (McQueen 36), Brisley (Miller 15), Gillesphey; Joyce, Jones; O’Sullivan (Ibehre 60), Lambe, Adams; Proctor
Booked: O’Sullivan, Miller
Subs not used: Crocombe, Bailey, Devitt, Waring

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Whatmough 72), Roberts (Naismith 80), Bennett (Chaplin 72); E.Doyle
Goals: Roberts 73, Linganzi 86, Whatmough 90+2
Subs not used: O’Brien, Rose, Lowe, Hunt

Referee: Richard Clark

Attendance: 7,197 (1,209 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 182017
 
League 2
Barnet 1 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Chaplin grabs late equaliser

Conor Chaplin hit a fine late leveller to rescue a point for Pompey in a scrappy contest at The Hive.

A largely turgid encounter looked to be heading for a goalless scoreline, with few chances to excite those in the stands.

But Mauro Vilhete converted a late free-kick to give the home supporters cause to cheer and deflate the large travelling army.

Substitute Chaplin perked them up in the dying moments, however, with a peach of a shot that left Bees keeper Josh Vickers with no chance.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Blackpool earlier in the week – naming an unchanged starting 11 for a fourth successive game.

The first half was a distinctly forgettable affair, with neither outfit being able to find their rhythm in a scrappy encounter.

Barnet won a free-kick 30 yards out, but Ruben Bover’s delivery swung out of play in a moment that summed up the action on offer.

The visitors finally carved out a decent opening on 20 minutes when Kyle Bennett released Gary Roberts down the right and the latter’s cross was glanced narrowly wide by Eoin Doyle.

Then, at the other end, David Forde made a fine reaction save to stop Curtis Weston from volleying home Vilhete’s centre.

And it was the Bees who finished the half looking the stronger side, with the Blues guilty of some sloppy play on the ball.

Former Pompey loannee John Akinde did brilliantly to chest the ball down on 38 minutes and send a shot dipping inches over the crossbar.

Charlie Clough then got on the end of a corner and his header was deflected just past the post by a relieved Michael Doyle.

Half Time: Barnet 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Cook made a double switch at the start of the second half, as Bennett and Jamal Lowe were replaced by Chaplin and Danny Rose.

That saw Pompey match their opponents’ 4-4-2 system, with Roberts at the tip of a diamond midfield.

The visiting fans – who made up more than 50 per cent of the total crowd – were making a racket in the stands.

But there was little action of note happening on the pitch, as the second half continued in the same vein as the first.

Chaplin got crowded out after collecting Amine Linganzi’s pass and charging into the box, as chances eluded both sides.

The hosts did go close on 66 minutes after Akinde won a soft free-kick just outside the area and Bover curled it onto the roof of the net.

And the Blues began to show more urgency as the minutes ticked down, with Chaplin having a shot blocked.

They were starting to look the more dangerous side, although it took a fine Christian Burgess challenge to finally halt the rampaging Akinde.

Carl Baker came on for the tiring Roberts for the final 10 minutes as Cook made his last throw of the dice.

But it was Barnet who forged ahead 10 minutes from time when Justin Amaluzor was fouled just outside the box and Vilhete stepped up to curl the free-kick over the wall.

It looked like the hosts were going to hang on for all three points – although CHAPLIN had other ideas.

The substitute had not had much joy since entering the pitch, but found the net with a rocket of a shot from 25 yards that flew into the top corner.

He celebrated with the fans first and then those on the bench, and it proved enough to secure a share of the spoils.

Barnet (4-4-2): Vickers; Clough, Nelson (c), Santos, Johnson; Vilhete, Bover (Sweeney 69), Champion, Weston; Akinola (Amaluzor 75), Akinde
Goals: Vilhete 82
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Dembele, Taylor, Tutonda, Coulson

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Rose 46), Roberts (Baker 80), Bennett (Chaplin 46); E.Doyle
Goals: Chaplin 89
Booked: Roberts
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Naismith, Hunt

Referee: Mark Brown

Attendance: 4,571 (2,430 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 142017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 0 Blackpool

 

Evans and Doyle fire Blues to victory

Goals from Gareth Evans and Eoin Doyle ensured Pompey beat Blackpool to record a second successive victory.

They totally dominated the first half and probably deserved to lead by more than Evans’ clinical finish.

It was a tighter affair after the break, however, and there were a few nervy moments before the hard-working Doyle opened his account deep into stoppage-time to secure another three-point haul.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that had beaten Accrington at the same venue less than four days earlier.

And he was rewarded with a bright start for the Blues, who looked to attack their mid-table opponents from the off.

They almost broke the deadlock after just five minutes, only for Gary Roberts to turn Eoin Doyle’s cut-back against the crossbar.

And Roberts then combined well with Kyle Bennett, but the former’s pass was cut-out before it could reach Pompey’s lone striker.

Eoin Doyle did connect with a cross – again from Roberts – moments later and sent a header flying just past the post.

The hosts’ attacking quartet were linking up extremely well, while the impressive Amine Linganzi saw a shot saved by Blackpool keeper Sam Slocombe.

There was not too much happening at the other end, although David Forde was at his commanding best to claim a couple of dangerous balls into the box.

The keeper then had to get down low to his right to push a drive from Kyle Vassell behind for a corner.

But it was the Blues who looked the more threatening side throughout the first half and they deservedly took the lead on 27 minutes.

Enda Stevens’ delivery from the left was missed by Linganzi, but fell for EVANS to lash into the roof of the net.

The advantage was almost doubled a few moments later, with Roberts not quite able to guide a cross on target with his head.

And Eoin Doyle was then inches away from connecting with a superb low cross from Evans that dissected the visitors’ defence.

It was the Irishman who might have added another goal just before the break, but he fired over after Roberts had brilliantly cushioned a long ball forward.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Blackpool 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey continued to push forward following the interval and Slocombe was just able to beat Eoin Doyle to Matt Clarke’s long pass.

The visitors did start to have more of an impact as the second half progressed and one corner led to a scramble in the Blues box before Evans eventually hacked clear.

Chances were certainly harder to find since the restart, though, and one acrobatic effort from Christian Burgess flew high over the bar.

Cook made his first change on 68 minutes and it was like for like, as Jamal Lowe made way for Carl Baker.

Blackpool then carved out an excellent opening when Jordan Flores’ low cross found Brad Potts at the far post.

It looked like the midfielder would draw the visitors level, but Stevens launched himself at the ball to make a brilliant block.

Evans had received treatment for a shoulder injury earlier in the half and had to be withdrawn on 75 minutes, with Kal Naismith taking his place at right-back.

Pompey then had a chance to strengthen their lead following a quick break, but Baker was dispossessed before he could shoot.

Jack Whatmough came on for Bennett in the Blues’ final change late on, although for the second game in a row the fourth official initially displayed the wrong number.

And Blackpool then went close to levelling from a corner, but Tom Aldred’s bullet header flew narrowly wide.

The atmosphere understandably grew tenser as the seconds ticked down and Blackpool delivered more crosses into the box.

But with the Seasiders committing men forward, the hosts took advantage to make sure of all three points.

Eoin DOYLE did well to hold off a couple of challenges and find Baker, before collecting the return pass and slotting home his first goal for the club.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans (Naismith 75), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Baker 68), Roberts, Bennett (Whatmough 83); E.Doyle
Goals: Evans 27, E.Doyle 90+5
Booked: Burgess, Roberts, Bennett
Subs not used: O’Brien, Rose, Chaplin, Hunt

Blackpool (3-5-2): Slocombe; Aimson, Aldred (c), Robertson; Mellor, Potts (Osayi-Samuel 81), Payne (Matt 81), Flores, Daniel; Delfouneso, Vassell (Odelusi 81)
Booked: Mellor
Subs not used: Lyness, Nolan, Gnanduillet, Cullen

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 15,132 (216 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 112017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 0 Accrington Stanley

 

Clarke and Naismith secure victory

Matt Clarke and Kal Naismith were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways by beating Accrington at Fratton Park.

The centre-back headed home in just the second minute to ensure the Blues got their promotion challenge back on track.

But the hosts probably should have wrapped things up earlier, with some missed chances ensuring the finale was more stressful than it ought to have been.

Substitute Kal Naismith finally settled those nerves in stoppage-time following a quick break up the pitch.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that were narrowly beaten at Wycombe the previous week, meaning the Eoin Doyle made his Fratton bow.

The hosts came charging out of the blocks and Marek Rodak made a fantastic save to deny Gary Roberts after the midfielder had been slipped through by Enda Stevens.

But the Blues did break the deadlock from the resulting corner, with Roberts collecting the ball back from Eoin Doyle and whipping in a cross that CLARKE headed home to open his account for the season.

Accrington had an interesting way of trying to find an equaliser with a shot straight from the restart, but the ambitious effort flew well wide.

It was Pompey doing most of the attacking, however, and Kyle Bennett fired narrowly past the post after being afforded space to run through the centre.

The hosts were winning plenty of corners, as Stanley struggled to get the ball to safety and threaten at the other end of the pitch.

And Clarke had another chance to find the net on 20 minutes, but this time headed over from a Roberts free-kick.

The lively Jamal Lowe was next to try his luck following some neat footwork inside the area, but his deflected strike was grabbed by Rodak at the second attempt.

Stanley then finally carved open a decent opportunity of their own, only for Sean McConville to waste it by curling wide when well-placed to trouble David Forde.

It was Pompey who finished the half on a high, however, and Clarke improvised with a scooped shot that was not far off target.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Accrington 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The Blues did not sit back at the start of the second half and Gareth Evans’ excellent cross was flicked on by a defender, with the ball hitting Bennett and drifting wide.

And the winger then tricked his way past a couple of challenges, but his shot could not find a way through a sea of red shirts.

Rodak slipped as he tried to make a clearance on 54 minutes, with Amine Linganzi’s threaded pass for Roberts intercepted.

Stanley were trying their best to make inroads at the other end, but Sean Clare was off target, while Clarke blocked Billy Kee’s effort.

It was still the Blues looking most likely to add to the scoring, however, with Clarke somehow failing to convert another Roberts corner from close range.

Cook made a double switch on 66 minutes, with Bennett and Roberts withdrawn for Carl Baker and Naismith.

Accrington then came close to levelling moments later when Janoi Donacien’s header led to a scramble on the goal-line before the ball was eventually hacked to safety by Evans.

There were certainly a few more nerves as the clock ticked down and Pompey clung onto their slender advantage.

Evans made a couple of key clearances as Stanley, unsurprisingly, started to show more of an attacking threat.

The tiring Lowe was replaced by Noel Hunt for the closing stages, receiving a warm reception as he made his way off the pitch.

And Clarke had yet another chance to wrap things up late on, only to see his header saved by Rodak’s feet after meeting Baker’s corner.

But NAISMITH did secure the three points following a quick stoppage-time counter-attack, with Hunt releasing the winger, who surged up the pitch and coolly slotted home.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Hunt 85), Roberts (Naismith 66), Bennett (Baker 66); E.Doyle
Goals: Clarke 2, Naismith 90+2
Booked: E.Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Rose, Chaplin

Accrington (4-1-2-1-2): Rodak; Rodgers (McCartan 60), Beckles, Hughes, Donacien; Conneely (c); Clare (Clark 60), McConville; Husin (Boco 86); Kee, Edwards
Booked: Conneely, Donacien
Subs not used: Chapman, Sykes, Davies, Shaw

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 15,955 (48 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 042017
 
League 2
Wycombe Wanderers 1 – 0 Portsmouth

 

Deflected goal seals Blues defeat

Pompey received a second successive slice of misfortune as they lost out to a fluke goal at Wycombe.

After being frustrated by a ricochet against Exeter last week, it was a wicked deflection that saw Scott Kashket claim all three points for the Chairboys.

Both sides created chances in a lively encounter at Adams Park, but it was the hosts who were able to boost their promotion credentials.

Paul Cook made five changes from the side beaten at home by the Grecians the previous week.

Eoin Doyle came straight into the starting 11 following his deadline day loan arrival from Preston.

Behind him was a new attacking trio of Kyle Bennett, Gary Roberts and – making his full debut – Jamal Lowe.

There was also a space for Amine Linganzi in midfield, while Conor Chaplin, Carl Baker, Kal Naismith and Danny Rose all dropped to the bench.

Pompey came roaring out of the blocks and Roberts slipped the ball through to Lowe, who could only drag the ball wide in the opening seconds.

But it was the hosts who then started to dominate, with the giant frame of Adebayo Akinfenwa unsurprisingly causing a few problems.

For all their balls into the box, however, there was little to trouble David Forde between the Blues’ sticks.

Christian Burgess did particularly well to beat Kaskhket to Akifenwa’s flick and powerfully head clear.

The centre-back then tried his luck at the other end of the pitch and met two Roberts corners, but sent one straight at Jamal Blackman and the other wide of the post.

Pompey started to look the more threatening side as the first half progressed and Eoin Doyle was unable to beat the Chairboys keeper after taking a fine touch to beat Anthony Stewart.

They had an even better chance to break the deadlock on 33 minutes when Bennett sent Enda Stevens through on goal, but Blackman came racing from his line to deny the left-back.

But the Blues survived a nervy moment just before the break when Matt Clarke and Stevens combined to bring down Kashket on the edge of the box.

It was the Irishman blamed by referee Graham Salisbury and shown a yellow card, but Sido Jombati’s free-kick was poor and comfortably claimed by Forde.

Half Time: Wycombe 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey enjoyed some joy at the start of the second half, with Eoin Doyle showing neat footwork down the left.

But the large band of travelling supporters saw their side fall behind in unfortunate fashion just moments later.

Forde dived to his left to keep out a routine shot from Kashket, but the ball took a massive deflection to leave the keeper stranded.

And the keeper then had to scramble back quickly to stop Burgess heading into his own net just a few seconds later.

Bennett tried to catch Blackman out at his near post when the Blues won a free-kick on 52 minutes, but the ball flew narrowly past the post.

The winger then whipped in a cross following a spell of patient build-up play, although there was nobody to meet it at the back stick.

Pompey were dominating possession by this point, with Wycombe doing most of their attacking work on the break.

Bennett played a neat one-two with Roberts on 67 minutes, but his low cross did not quite sit up right for Eoin Doyle in the box.

Cook made a double switch soon after in the hunt for an equaliser, with Lowe and Bennett withdrawn for Baker and Naismith.

And it was Baker who came close to immediately grabbing a goal, taking advantage of a mix-up at the back and hooking narrowly over.

Blackman then did well to stop Eoin Doyle netting from a tight angle, while Baker drilled an effort just past the post.

Chaplin was thrown on for the closing stages as Pompey poured forward and a display of eight additional minutes sparked hopes of a point.

Stevens, Baker and Chaplin all went close as the seconds ticked down, but the Blues were unable to salvage anything.

Wycombe (4-3-3): Blackman; Jombati, Stewart, Pierre (De Havilland 60), Jacobson; O’Nien, Gape, Wood; Kashket (Thompson 89), Akinfenwa, Hayes (c) (Saunders 46)
Goals: Kashket 48
Booked: Wood, Stewart, Saunders, Kashket
Subs not used: Richardson, Bean, Weston, Jakubiak

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Baker 72), Roberts (Chaplin 86), Bennett (Naismith 72); E.Doyle
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Rose, Hunt

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 6,028 (1,800 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 282017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 0 – 1 Exeter City

 

Wheeler goal downs Blues

Pompey were unable to halt Exeter’s resurgence as they fell to defeat against their in-form visitors.

The goal that proved the difference between the sides from David Wheeler owed a lot of good fortune, with a ricochet aiding the Devon outfit.

But the Blues struggled to create many chances of note in their ultimately futile search for a leveller.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Leyton Orient on the south coast a fortnight earlier.

That meant Conor Chaplin continued to lead the line alongside Michael Smith in a 4-4-2 formation.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause in memory of title-winning forward Lindy Delapenha, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.

There was little to excite another large Fratton crowd once the action got underway, with clear-cut chances at a premium throughout the first half.

The hosts dominated possession, although a well-marshalled defence meant they were not able to test Christy Pym in the Grecians goal.

Chaplin showed some neat invention to try to convert Carl Baker’s cross with a back-flick, but the ball flew wide.

David Forde flung himself to the left to deny Reuben Reid at the other end, then grabbed the loose ball at the second attempt.

Ollie Watkins was looking the most threatening player for the visitors and the sought-after striker drilled a low effort narrowly past the post on 16 minutes.

And Christian Burgess was enjoying a personal tussle with Reid, with the defender making a couple of key challenges inside the box to frustrate his opponent.

There was one more opportunity for Baker to break the deadlock before the break, but his effort was fumbled behind by Pym as a drab opening 45 minutes came to a close.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Exeter 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey were first to threaten at the start of the second half, but a poor attempt from Kal Naismith flew over the bar.

The visitors went closer moments later and Enda Stevens had to turn Ryan Harley’s cross behind before Watkins could pounce.

And the Grecians did forge ahead on 57 minutes – although they were aided by a huge slice of fortune.

Reid burst down the centre and when he was dispossessed, the ball ricocheted off Danny Rose and straight into the path of Wheeler, who lashed it into the net.

Cook immediately responded with a double substitution, bringing on Jamal Lowe and Gary Roberts in place of Smith and Baker.

And Lowe tried to add a spark to the hosts’ performance with some tricky footwork, while his cross was headed wide by Matt Clarke.

It was Gareth Evans who forced Pym into action on 72 minutes, however, with a fierce left-footed effort that the keeper did well to smother.

But Exeter then came close to doubling their advantage when Troy Brown met a corner and glanced a header inches wide.

Pompey pushed forward in search of an equaliser and some fans thought a penalty had been awarded when Stevens went down under Jack Stacey’s challenge, although referee Dean Whitestone was instead pointing for a goal-kick.

There were also a host of late corners, which saw Forde come up to provide a different threat, but despite five minutes of added time and the Grecians starting to sit back, the hosts were unable to provide some late drama.

Pompey (4-4-2): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Baker (Roberts 59), Rose, Doyle (c), Naismith; Chaplin, Smith (Lowe 59)
Booked: Clarke, Forde
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Bennett, Hunt

Exeter (4-4-2): Pym; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor (c), Woodman; Wheeler, Taylor, James, Harley; Reid (McAlinden 81), Watkins
Goals: Wheeler 57
Booked: Reid
Subs not used: Olejnik, Sweeney, Tillson, Croll, Oakley, Simpson

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 17,195 (1,010 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 142017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Leyton Orient

 

Chaplin double secures win

Conor Chaplin bagged a brace as Pompey got their promotion challenge back on track by beating Leyton Orient.

It was a display of almost total dominance by the Blues and the margin of victory probably should have been greater.

Chaplin saw a penalty saved, but quickly put that out of his mind to open the scoring, only for Gavin Massey to grab an impressive leveller.

There was to be no shock outcome, however, as Chaplin grabbed his second of the afternoon – and seventh of the season – early in the second half.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that were beaten at table-topping Doncaster nine days earlier.

That saw Chaplin replace Kyle Bennett, as the hosts switched to a more traditional 4-4-2 system.

There were plenty of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with former Blues Alex Cisak, Nigel Atangana and Paul McCallum all selected.

Both sets of fans held a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of former Pompey and Orient defender Paul Went, as well as ex-England boss Graham Taylor.

On the pitch it was a totally dominant first half display from the hosts, who set about attacking their struggling opponents straight from kick-off.

Chaplin could not quite get a touch to Kal Naismith’s clever free-kick after nipping in between a couple of defenders.

Tom Parkes then made a mess of trying to clear Carl Baker’s cross and Cisak had to intervene to stop the ball dipping under the crossbar.

Naismith soon played a neat one-two with Michael Smith and burst into the box, only to then fire over the top.

The hosts had an even better chance to break the deadlock on 22 minutes when Sammy Moore tripped Enda Stevens just inside the box.

Referee Brett Hutxtable pointed to the spot, but Cisak guessed the right way to palm Chaplin’s shot wide – the fifth penalty that Pompey have missed this season.

It was only a brief respite for the beleaguered visitors, however, as CHAPLIN made amends just seconds later by arriving at the far post to turn home Baker’s low cross.

The Blues immediately set about trying to add to their lead and Baker sent an effort curling narrowly past the post.

And Smith was unlucky not to add his name to the scoresheet when he met Naismith’s corner, only to see his header cleared from the line by Parkes.

David Forde might as well have been sat in the Fratton End such was Pompey’s dominance in the early stages.

But his first involvement was to pick the ball out of the net, as Orient levelled with their maiden chance on 38 minutes.

Not that the keeper could have done much to stop a stunning strike from Massey that flew into the top corner.

And the action was soon back down the other end of the pitch, with Stevens’ cut-back going behind three of his waiting team-mates in the box.

There was still time for one more chance in stoppage-time, with Teddy Mezague making a brilliant block to deny Baker before Naismith drove the loose ball wide.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Leyton Orient 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

There was a surprise switch at the start of the second half, with Jamal Lowe introduced in place of Gareth Evans – who had picked up an injury before the break – to make his Blues debut.

That saw Baker drop to right-back, but it did not stop his attacking intent as he soon provided the assist for a second Pompey goal.

It was a fine cross in from the right and CHAPLIN showed his usual poaching instincts to arrive and head the hosts back into the lead.

There might have been another soon after when Cisak fumbled Stevens’ low cross, but the keeper grabbed the loose ball before Smith could pounce.

Orient were unsurprisingly showing more ambition than prior to the interval, but it was still the Blues controlling possession as the half progressed.

Naismith, in particular, was looking full of confidence, showcasing some silky skills to jink his way past challenges.

But there was almost a disaster for Pompey on 66 minutes when Christian Burgess did not spot Forde coming to collect the ball and headed narrowly past his own post.

It was soon back to normal, though, and only a slight deflection prevented Smith from turning in Naismith’s free-kick.

Amine Linganzi replaced the Scottish winger on 76 minutes, as Cook looked to inject more steel into the midfield.

But that did not mean the Blues were looking to sit on their lead and a sliding Smith was agonisingly close to reaching Chaplin’s centre.

Stevens then surged into the box from wide on the left and sent a powerful effort fizzing past the post.

Chaplin received a standing ovation as he left the pitch to be replaced by Bennett for the closing stages.

And it was a deserved reception for the diminutive striker, as Pompey saw out the final few minutes to secure a valuable victory.

Pompey (4-4-2): Forde; Evans (Lowe 46), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Baker, Rose, Doyle (c), Naismith (Linganzi 76); Smith, Chaplin (Bennett 87)
Goals: Chaplin 23
Booked: Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Roberts, Hunt

Leyton Orient (5-1-2-1-1): Cisak; Judd, Hunt (c), Mezague, Parkes, Semedo (Palmer 89); Moore (Bowery 69); Atangana, Collins; Massey; McCallum
Goals: Massey 38
Booked: Atangana
Subs not used: Sargeant, Pollock, Kennedy, Nnomo, Koroma

Referee: Brett Huxtable

Attendance: 16,564 (607 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 052017
 
League 2
Doncaster Rovers 3 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Blues lose at league leaders

Pompey missed out on the chance to close in on the automatic promotion places with a 3-1 defeat at Doncaster.

Former Fratton loanee John Marquis gave the hosts an early lead, only for Kal Naismith to level late in the first half.

But the Blues failed to build on that after the break, with Tommy Rowe rocketing Rovers back ahead before Marquis wrapped things up.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that beat Luton at Fratton Park on Bank Holiday Monday.

That meant an attacking midfield trio of Carl Baker, Naismith and Kyle Bennett were deployed behind lone frontman Michael Smith.

Pompey started poorly against the league leaders and looked particularly susceptible on the counter-attack.

And it came as no surprise when Doncaster broke the deadlock after just five minutes, with James Coppinger’s delivery flicked on by Matty Blair for Marquis to head home.

Rovers immediately set about trying to build on their lead and David Forde denied Conor Grant before another dangerous Coppinger cross had to be hooked clear by Michael Doyle.

But the Blues almost levelled with their first decent chance soon after, as keeper Marko Marosi only just managed to keep out Matt Clarke’s header from a Baker corner.

The visitors grew stronger as the half progressed, but Doncaster still looked threatening on the break and one ended with Niall Mason firing into the side netting.

Marquis was then inches away from extending their advantage, meeting Craig Alcock’s cross, but seeing his header hit the woodwork.

A couple of Naismith corners caused problems at the other end of the pitch, while Marosi did well to gobble up Enda Stevens’ low cross before Smith could pounce.

Pompey were starting to pile on some pressure, however, and they deservedly found themselves back on level terms just before the break.

Former Rovers winger Bennett – who was roundly booed by the home support throughout – intercepted the ball and threaded a neat pass to NAISMITH, who coolly slid the ball past Marosi.

Half Time: Doncaster 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Both sides had looked capable of adding more goals before the interval, but the second half took longer to provide any inspiration.

An Evans shot from long-range that forced Marosi down to his left was as close as either side came in the opening stages.

But Doncaster suddenly brought the game back to life by restoring their advantage on 58 minutes.

It was a fine effort from Rowe, who collected a pass from Coppinger and beat Evans before rifling a fierce shot into the roof of the net.

Cook soon responded by making his first substitution, with Milan Lalkovic given an opportunity to impress in place of Baker.

And Bennett then made way for Gary Roberts, as Pompey tried to add fresh attacking impetus into their side.

But it was Rovers who looked the more dangerous going forward and they extended their lead on 71 minutes.

It was Marquis who found the target once again after a cross from Rowe was deflected kindly into his path.

Cook made one final throw of the dice soon after, with Naismith making way so Conor Chaplin could partner Smith up front.

It was Lalkovic who almost reduced the deficit, however, meeting Evans’ excellent cross with a close-range header that Marosi dived across goal to keep out.

But the keeper almost cost his side moments later when he failed to hold a cross under pressure from Smith.

The loose ball fell to Chaplin, who did not have long to react, and his effort was hacked clear by a well-placed Alcock.

An injury to Marosi – which saw the keeper stretchered off – meant there were seven minutes of injury-time.

But that failed to provide the inspiration for an unlikely comeback as Doncaster saw out the final moments to increase their title hopes.

Doncaster (4-3-2-1): Marosi (Etheridge 86); Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Mason; Blair (Williams 55), Houghton, Grant; Coppinger (c) (Middleton 67), Rowe; Marquis
Goals: Marquis 5, 71, Rowe 58
Booked: Alcock
Subs not used: Wright, Keegan, Beestin, May

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Lalkovic 62), Naismith (Chaplin 75), Bennett (Roberts 67); Smith
Goals: Naismith 41
Booked: Burgess, Evans, Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi, Hunt

Referee: Jeremy Simpson

Attendance: 5,568 (669 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 022017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 0 Luton Town

 

Burgess header secures victory

Pompey got 2017 off to a great start by beating Luton to close the gap on the automatic promotion places.

Christian Burgess grabbed the only goal of the game by heading home from a first half free-kick.

The hosts dominated before the break, but there were a few nervy moments after it and Gary Roberts missed a penalty before the victory could finally be celebrated.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew at a foggy Yeovil in the final game of last year.

Noel Hunt dropped to the bench to make way for Kyle Bennett, as the Blues switched back to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system.

The visitors’ line-up suggested they would play with more ambition than most sides who visit Fratton Park.

But it was the Blues who made the brighter start, without really testing Christian Walton in the Hatters goal.

There was then a lengthy break in play when Cameron McGeehan went down injured following a challenge with Michael Doyle and had to be stretchered from the pitch.

The game took a while to gather pace once it restarted, but Pompey soon started to impose themselves.

Gareth Evans sent a snap-shot narrowly over the bar from 30 yards, while an unmarked Carl Baker then completely mis-hit his effort from inside the box.

Bennett was next to go close when he collected a pass from Enda Stevens and sent a low drive inches past the post.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on 31 minutes after Bennett had been fouled by Stephen O’Donnell wide on the left.

Baker stepped up to send a sumptuous delivery into the box, where BURGESS rose highest to send a thumping header into the net.

He then made an important intervention at the other end of the pitch to dispossess Danny Hylton inside the area.

But most of the action was still taking place in and around the Luton box, with Scott Cuthbert forced to make a vital challenge when Evans collected Baker’s incisive pass.

And Burgess almost doubled the advantage just before the break, only to divert Kal Naismith’s corner wide.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Luton 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey started the second half as they had finished the first – and an unmarked Evans should really have done better than guiding Baker’s free-kick straight at Walton.

Naismith then delivered a dangerous cross that was just behind the onrushing Michael Smith, as the Blues looked to make their pressure count.

But Luton almost levelled when Burgess was caught in possession seconds later. Hylton stole the ball and neatly chipped David Forde, but it bounced back off the crossbar.

The visitors were certainly looking more of a threat since the interval and Forde made a comfortable stop to deny Jonathan Smith before a free-kick was nervously dealt with by Stevens.

And it was Smith who should have at least tested Forde when Hylton ran along the byline and teed-up him up, only for the midfielder to fire wide from a few yards out.

Cook made his first substitution on 68 minutes, with a refreshed Roberts coming on for Bennett.

It was a nervy period for Pompey and Forde had to palm the ball clear when James Justin took advantage of Evans’ slip to fire in a shot.

The visitors were being hampered by an injury to Hylton, however. Boss Nathan Jones had already made all his changes, so the striker was forced to carry on, cutting a forlorn figure as he hobbled around the pitch.

Pompey tried to make the most of that and one attack looked particularly promising on 75 minutes.

They broke quickly up the pitch, but Smith picked the ball up when he probably should have left it for Naismith and when his path was blocked, Baker fired high over the bar.

There was certainly a feeling of tension around Fratton Park as the clock ticked down towards a much-needed home triumph.

Roberts then missed a chance to let everyone breathe out when he fired over from the spot after Noel Hunt had been tripped in the box by Olly Lee in stoppage-time.

But the Blues saw out the final few moments to ensure there was plenty of New Year cheer on the south coast.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Linganzi 84), Doyle (c); Baker (Hunt 80), Naismith, Bennett (Roberts 68); Smith
Goals: Burgess 31
Booked: Forde, Hunt
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Lalkovic, Chaplin

Luton (4-1-2-1-2): Walton; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Mullins, Justin; Rea; Gilliead (Lee 54), Smith; McGeehan (Mpanzu 20); Cook (Vassell 54), Hylton
Booked: McGeehan, Smith, Vassell, Mpanzu
Subs not used: King, Senior, Marriott, McQuoid

Referee: Tim Robinson

Attendance: 17,402 (1,547 away fans)

Portsmouth FC