Match Report

Jul 192016
 
Friendly
Salisbury 2 – 2 Portsmouth

 

Hunt and Roberts net for Blues

Pompey were twice pegged back by Salisbury and had to settle for a draw in their latest pre-season outing at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium.

They created a host of chances and finally forged ahead through Noel Hunt, only for Justin Bennett to immediately equalise.

Gary Roberts’ restored the lead after the interval, but the Whites – despite rarely posing a threat – levelled again when Eddie Perrett headed home.

On a sweltering evening in Wiltshere, it was the hosts who made the brighter start and Pompey had to deal with a couple of free-kicks.

But Paul Cook’s side soon started to take control and Milan Lalkovic saw a shot deflected wide following a quick counter-attack.

Jack Whatmough then missed a great opportunity to break the deadlock on eight minutes, heading Gary Roberts’ cross wide after being left unmarked in the box.

Carl Baker has already shown that he is unafraid to have a pop, but appeared to leave his shooting boots at home with a couple of efforts that failed to find the target.

And Lee Angel then made a superb diving block to deny the midfielder as the Blues continued to threaten.

Hunt was looking a danger up front for the visitors and lifted a shot narrowly wide following a fine through ball by Roberts.

One fine flowing move involved Hunt and Baker, but Enda Stevens was unable to beat Whites keeper Charlie Searle after being teed-up.

Searle then made a stunning save to keep out a close-range Roberts header that seemed destined for the net.

But Pompey’s pressure finally paid dividends on 42 minutes when HUNT collected Stevens’ low cross and steered a shot inside the near post.

The lead lasted for just a minute, however, as a corner from Lewis Benson was emphatically headed home by Bennett.

There was still time for the Blues to go close before the break, but another superb Angel block denied Lalkovic.

Half Time: Salisbury 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey continued to look bright after the interval and Roberts’ header was deflected wide after the midfielder had met Drew Talbot’s cross.

Baker then slid a pass across the face of goal that was just out of the reach of substitute Michael Smith.

It was Smith who probably should have restored the Blues’ lead on 54 minutes, but he failed to find the target with a close-range header.

Pompey were dominating and it came as no surprise when they did score a second soon after.

Lalkovic slid a pass through to ROBERTS in the box and the midfielder’s shot creeped over the line, despite the best efforts of the Salisbury back-line to get the ball clear.

Salisbury were not doing much to test trialist keeper Chris Kanopka at the other end, with an effort from Tony Lee almost going out for a throw.

But they found themselves level on 72 minutes with another goal from a corner, as Benson’s cross was headed back for Perrett to flick home.

Pompey had an immediate chance to restore their advantage, but Smith could not quite squeeze the ball in from a tight angle.

Kyle Bennett then fired over the bar after Stevens had been released down the left by Roberts and delivered a low cross into the box.

Pompey continued to dominate possession as the game drew to a conclusion, but were unable to convert that into a winning goal.

Salisbury (4-4-2): Searle (Childs 62); Colson, Wheeler (c) (Leigh 74), Angel, Perrett; Herbert (Jones 46), Whelan, Benson, Young (Masterton 59); Wright (Lee 46), Bennett (Flint 67)
Goals: Bennett 43, Perrett 72

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Konopka; Talbot, Whatmough, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Lalkovic (Bennett 62); Hunt (Smith 46)
Goals: Hunt 42, Roberts 59
Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Haunstrup, Close, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Linganzi, Tollitt, Chaplin

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 1,124

Portsmouth FC
Jul 162016
 
Friendly
Sutton United 2 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain on target for Blues

Pompey’s unbeaten start to pre-season was ended by Sutton on a muggy afternoon at the Borough Sports Ground.

The hosts dominated the first half and deservedly led at the break thanks to goals from Roarie Deacon – who was on trial with the Blues earlier in the summer – and Bedsente Gomis.

But Paul Cook’s side looked much stronger following a host of second half substitutions and grabbed a consolation through Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain.

After a slow start, it was the non-league side who were first to threaten – and they immediately forged ahead.

It was Deacon who opened the scoring on eight minutes, steering the ball into the bottom corner after Dan Spence’s low cross had been laid into his path.

The hosts were, unsurprisingly, looking more comfortable on their artificial surface and caused the Blues back-line a few problems.

Ross Worner was not being overly troubled in the United goal, although he made a regulation save to deny Conor Chaplin following good work by Adam May and Brandon Haunstrup.

Instead it was Sutton providing most of the attacking threat and Ryan Burge swung a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.

Alex Bass then had to beat away a shot from Dan Wishart after the left-back had beaten Chris Sessegnon and burst into the box.

Gomis was next to go close when he met Deacon’s cross and sent a header crashing against the crossbar.

And it was the midfielder who doubled the hosts’ advantage on 33 minutes, arriving at the far post to convert Ross Stearn’s cross.

Half Time: Sutton 2 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Sutton should have had a third goal early in the second half, but Craig Eastmond blazed over the bar after being picked out by Deacon.

Pompey were still struggling to find a way through at the other end, although Curtis Main was not too far away with an audacious long-range effort that flashed over the bar.

They had another opening after breaking quickly up the pitch moments later, but Ben Close was crowded out and Main’s neat flick landed on the bar.

Main was the pick of the bunch for the Blues and he went close again on 65 minutes, with an effort that was deflected narrowly over.

Jack Whatmough came on just past the hour mark, with a further nine changes following a few moments later as Cook looked to give his whole squad a run-out.

And the visitors immediately looked brighter, with only a brave block preventing Theo Widdrington from reducing the deficit.

Pompey were suddenly providing a real attacking threat, with Carl Baker keen to add to his brace at Havant & Waterlooville during the week.

The summer signing fired a free-kick just past the post and then saw a shot kept out by the feet of Worner.

In between those chances, Gary Roberts was also denied by the Sutton keeper as the Blues tried to reduce the deficit.

And that is exactly what they did on 81 minutes when trialist Noel Hunt played a quick free-kick to Baker, whose low cross was converted by OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN.

A resurgent Pompey tried to grab an equaliser, but it was last season’s National League South champions who able to celebrate the victory.

Sutton (4-1-4-1): Worner; Spence, Beckwith (John 69), Collins (c), Wishart (Amankwaah 63); Eastmond; Deacon, Gomis (Bailey 75), Burge (Downer 74), Stearn (Hudson-Odoi 66); Fitchett (Dundas 60)
Goals: Deacon 8, Gomis 33

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; Sessegnon (Talbot 69), Burgess (c) (Whatmough 63), Barton (Widdrington 69), Haunstrup (Stevens 69); Close (Rose 69), May (Doyle 69); Tollitt (Baker 69), Chaplin (Roberts 69), Lalkovic (Oxlade-Chamberlain 69); Main (Hunt 69)
Goals: Oxlade-Chamberlain 81

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 1,188

Portsmouth FC
Jul 132016
 
Friendly
Havant & Waterlooville 0 – 5 Portsmouth

 

Blues ease to friendly victory

Carl Baker bagged a brace as Pompey hit five unanswered goals past non-league neighbours Havant & Waterlooville at Westleigh Park.

The midfielder struck either side of the interval to give the Blues a commanding lead after Gary Roberts had opened the scoring.

Trialist Noel Hunt and Curtis Main then both came off the bench to cap a comfortable victory for Paul Cook’s side.

There was good news for the hosts before kick-off, as they announced the return of former Pompey midfielder Wes Fogden on a two-year deal.

But it was the visitors who had most of the joy once the action belatedly got underway, following a 15-minute delay to allow all the fans to get into the ground.

Danny Rose and Conor Chaplin went close in the opening stages, with the pair both narrowly failing to find the target.

In between was the Hawks’ only decent chance of the evening, with a crisp effort from ex-Fratton youngster Bradley Tarbuck superbly tipped around the post by Michael Crowe.

And Pompey broke the deadlock on 12 minutes when Milan Lalkovic slid a fine pass through to ROBERTS, who neatly lifted the ball over keeper Ryan Young and into the net.

The Blues continued to dominate and Baker had a hat-trick of efforts – the first clearing the ground, the second fizzing narrowly over and the third hit straight at Young.

Rose was next to go close midway through the first half, firing into the side netting following good build-up play from Michael Doyle and Lalkovic.

Baker was not afraid to try his luck from distance and another attempt from the summer signing had to be pushed to safety by Young.

And his persistence paid off just before the break with a strike that was most definitely worth the wait.

BAKER picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and hit a stunning shot that flew in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving Young rooted to the spot.

Half Time: Hawks 0 Pompey 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey picked up where they left off after the restart and Young had to come charging from his line to stop Chaplin racing onto Lalkovic’s pass.

The Hawks keeper then kept out Lalkovic’s stinging drive, but was unable to stop the Blues from grabbing a third goal.

He could only parry the ball as far as Roberts, who cut it back for BAKER to tap home from just a couple of yards out.

The usual pre-season flurry of substitutions meant that chances began to dry up and the pace started to slow.

But two of those late arrivals managed to find the net and give the scoreline an added gloss for the visitors.

First trialist HUNT slid in to convert Enda Stevens’ low cross from wide on the left after the full-back had picked up Doyle’s raking pass.

Then, after Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain had stolen possession and seen his shot parried by Young, MAIN followed-up to poke home.

He almost scored again late on, but a thunderous effort from 30-yards hit the inside of the post and flew clear.

There was a bit of needle between Main and Ben Swallow late on that would normally have received a harsher punishment than the ticking off dished out by referee Dean Treleaven.

But that was a rare moment of petulance in a good-natured contest that saw the Blues continue their preparations for the 2016/17 campaign in fine style.

Hawks (4-4-2): Young (Searle 65); Strugnell (Miller 89), Woodford (Molyneaux 54), Robinson, Williams (Medway 65); Swallow, Lewis (Ridge 65), Stock (c) (Whittingham 84), Tarbuck (Barker 54); Prior (Hayter 65), Paterson (Rutherford 54)

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Crowe; Talbot (Sessegnon 74), Whatmough (Bradbury 85), Burgess (Barton 78), Stevens (Haunstrup 76); Rose (Widdrington 74), Doyle (c) (Bedford 74); Baker (Oxlade-Chamberlain 71), Roberts (Main 69), Lalkovic (Tollitt 60); Chaplin (Hunt 57)
Goals: Roberts 12, Baker 45, 56, Hunt 69, Main 73

Referee: Dean Treleaven

Attendance: 2,300

Portsmouth FC
Jul 092016
 
Friendly
Bohemians 0 – 2 Portsmouth

 

Rose and Chaplin on target for Blues

Pompey brought their Irish tour to a close with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Bohemians.

Both goals arrived in the first half, with a couple of neat finishes from Danny Rose and Conor Chaplin.

Paul Cook’s side dominated proceedings and created enough chances to have won by a greater margin in Dublin.

A healthy number of Pompey fans were packed into one side of the dilapidated Dalymount Park.

And they saw their side control the first half, with plenty of openings carved out in the final game of the Blues’ Irish tour.

Bohemians keeper Shane Supple did well to keep the scores level early on, racing from his line to deny Carl Baker.

Chaplin then saw two shots blocked in quick succession before an effort from Kyle Bennett met the same fate.

The blue tide kept pouring forward and Milan Lalkovic’s drive was comfortable for Supple, while Baker could not avoid a visiting defender after rounding the Bohs keeper.

There was a nasty moment midway through the first half, however, as Stephen Best came off worse in a challenge with Bennett and had to be stretchered from the pitch.

Pompey soon broke the deadlock, with Lalkovic stealing possession and feeding ROSE, who neatly dinked the ball into the net.

Chaplin almost doubled the lead moments later, only for Supple to stick out a hand and divert his angled drive wide.

But the Blues did increase their advantage in stoppage-time, as CHAPLIN took advantage of a poor back-pass and kept his composure to round the keeper and slot home.

Half Time: Bohemians 0 Pompey 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey picked up where they left off following the interval, although Chaplin was not quite able to force a shot through a packed six-year box.

But Bohemians did have a couple of chances of their own, even if efforts from Ayman Ben Mohamed and Mark Quigley failed to overly trouble Martin Crowe in the Blues goal.

When the action returned to the other end of the pitch, Bennett was crudely felled right on the edge of the box, only for Enda Stevens’ low free-kick to be cleared.

Baker was next to try his luck following good work from the lively Lalkovic, but saw his shot deflected wide.

A steady stream of substitutions from the visitors disrupted any fluidity, as the game began to drift towards it conclusion.

There was a shot from Brandon Haunstrup – playing in a more advanced role than usual – but it rolled comfortably into Supple’s arms.

And Pompey suddenly looked brighter in the closing stages, with Ben Tollitt denied by a fine save before Gary Roberts narrowly failed to find the target.

They could not find another goal to reward those who had made the trip across the Irish Sea.

But the travelling Blues fans would have seen their players make another step forward as they prepare for their opening League Two encounter next month.

Bohemians (4-4-2): Supple; O’Hora (Hollywood 78), Mulcahy (c), Best (Lopes 31), Fitzgerald (Kelly 17 (Akinade 78)); P.Kavanagh (Buckley 46), Morris, J.Kavanagh, Caffrey (Flynn 81); Mohamed (Graydon 74), Quigley

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Crowe (Bass 69); Talbot (Sessegnon 72), Burgess, Barton (Whatmough 69), Stevens; Rose, Doyle; Bennett (Roberts 58), Baker (May 77), Lalkovic (Haunstrup 69); Chaplin (Tollitt 60)
Goals: Rose 33, Chaplin 45+1

Portsmouth FC
Jul 062016
 
Friendly
Sligo Rovers 3 – 3 Portsmouth

 

Draw for Blues in Irish testimonial

Conor Chaplin bagged a brace as Pompey drew 3-3 at Sligo in their opening pre-season friendly of the summer.

Gary Roberts also found the target in a testimonial match for long-serving Rovers favourite Gavin Peers.

That saw the visitors coast to a three-goal lead, only for the Irish outfit to hit back with three of their own after the break – including a spot-kick from man-of-the-moment Peers.

It was still an enjoyable return to The Showgrounds for Cook, though, who won three trophies when he managed the Irish club between 2007 and 2012.

There was certainly a testimonial feel to the first half, as the hosts fielded a side made up former team-mates of Peers.

One of them was Kieran Djilali – who had a short spell with the Blues in 2012 – while the brother of Westlife star Mark Feehily also featured.

Pompey, unsurprisingly, dominated before the break and they took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock.

Chaplin did well down the right and was able to pull the ball back for ROBERTS to tap home from just a yard out.

And he was able to return the favourite soon after, with CHAPLIN free to capitalise when the midfielder’s path to goal was blocked by keeper Ciaran Kelly.

Trialist stopper Michael Crowe was largely untroubled at the other end and Christian Burgess stopped him from having to make a save by blocking Djilali’s effort.

Djilali soon made a sheepish exit, however, as following a flurry of substitutions, referee Alan Kelly had failed to spot that Sligo had 12 men on the pitch.

Jack Whatmough did well to deny the Irish side on 38 minutes, charging across to halt a quick counter-attack.

Instead it was Pompey who added to the scoring soon after, with Roberts and CHAPLIN again combining, and the latter neatly lifting the ball home.

There were two chances to increase the lead further before the interval, but Roberts and Milan Lalkovic both narrowly failed to find the target.

Half Time: Sligo 0 Pompey 3

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Peers remained on the pitch for the second half and was this time joined by 10 of his current team-mates.

Cook also rung the changes, with Roberts and Chaplin the only Blues players not to be given a rest.

Sligo almost pulled a goal back on the hour mark, but Kieran Sadlier’s drive was beaten away by replacement keeper Eric Grimes and the winger sent his follow-up effort into the side netting.

Raffaele Cretaro then wasted a great opportunity to get on the scoresheet, missing a free header at the far post.

But Sligo did have a goal on 70 minutes and – although it appeared rather soft – there were no complaints when a penalty was awarded for a challenge on Phil Roberts by Tom Davies.

That gave Peers the chance to score from the spot and he confidently slotted the ball into the bottom corner before being withdrawn to a standing ovation.

It was soon Pompey who were back on the attack and Chaplin saw an effort blocked at point-blank range following good work from Kyle Bennett and Carl Baker.

With a total of 52 players used, the game had understandably lost a bit of impetus as it coasted towards a conclusion.

But it sparked back into life towards the end as the impressive Sadlier scored twice in quick succession to draw the hosts level.

First he poked home from close range following good work down the right by Cretaro and then rifled home the equaliser seconds later.

But more important for Cook was the chance to see his squad get some minutes under the belt, while Peers was rightly lauded for his loyalty to Sligo.

Sligo first half (4-4-1-1): Kelly; Keane, Peers (c), Burns (Flannery 24), Foy (McCartney 24); Djilali (McTiernan 24), O’Grady (Judge 31), Ventre, Dillon (Mansaram 31); Ndo (Feehily 33); Elding (McNamara 24)

Sligo second half (4-4-2): Schlingermann; Adebayo-Rowling, Peers (c) (Trialist 70), Boylan, Keohane; Kearns, Roddan, Russell (Lines 79), Sadlier; Cretaro (Place 86), Roberts
Goals: Peers 69 (pen), Sadlier 85, 87

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Crowe (trialist) (Grimes (trialist) 46); Talbot (Sessegnon (trialist) 46), Whatmough (Davies 46), Burgess (Barton 46), Haunstrup (Stevens 46); May (Close 46), Doyle (c) (Rose 46); Tollitt (Baker 46), Roberts (Konsiembo (trialist) 62), Lalkovic (Bennett 46); Chaplin (Tollitt 79)
Goals: Roberts 9, Chaplin 17, 40

Referee: Alan Kelly

Attendance: 1,127

Portsmouth FC
May 152016
 
League 2 Play Off
Plymouth Argyle 1 – 0 Portsmouth

 

Late goal denies Blues a Wembley trip

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: Plymouth 0 (2) Pompey 0 (2)

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Paul Tierney

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

Portsmouth FC
May 122016
 
League 2 Play Off
Portsmouth 2 – 2 Plymouth Argyle

 

McNulty and Roberts on target

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: Pompey 1 Plymouth 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Oliver Langford

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

Portsmouth FC
May 072016
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 2 Northampton Town

 

Freeman sent off as Blues lose to champions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: Pompey 0 Northampton 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Mark Brown

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

Portsmouth FC
Apr 302016
 
League 2
Hartlepool United 0 – 2 Portsmouth

 

Naismith and Chaplin on target for Blues

Goals from Kal Naismith and Conor Chaplin saw Pompey secure victory against Hartlepool at Victoria Park.

But results elsewhere ensured their slim hopes of automatic promotion evaporated, with a spot in the play-offs against Plymouth now confirmed.

The game was a turgid affair before the break, but Naismith’s back-flick provided the spark needed to ignite the contest.

Both sides created plenty of chances after that, although it was Chaplin who came off the bench to wrap things up with a neat finish.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that won at AFC Wimbledon earlier in the week.

Paul Jones – who came off with a thigh injury against the Dons – made way for Brian Murphy between the sticks.

That meant there was no keeper on the bench, while Jack Whatmough made a welcome return to the squad after more than a year out following a knee injury.

The weather before kick-off was certainly unpredictable with hail and snow eventually making way for warm and sunny conditions.

Unfortunately, there was nothing to get particularly excited about once the football got underway.

It began promisingly enough, with Gary Roberts’ effort cannoning into Naismith and deflecting just wide.

But the game soon entered a lull, with the hosts – who had nothing but pride to play for – not showing too much ambition.

There was a free-kick from Nathan Thomas that clipped the top of the wall and flew behind for a corner.

The home fans started to grow frustrated, however, as there was nobody getting into the box to meet some dangerous crosses.

Roberts was doing his best to inject some urgency into proceedings, with a couple of incisive balls that were cleared by the Pools defence.

Pompey suddenly had a couple of decent openings just before the break, as Michael Smith met Christian Burgess’ cross and sent a header looping over the bar.

Roberts then put Gareth Evans away with a fine threaded pass, but he was denied twice in quick succession by former Blues loanee Trevor Carson.

Half Time: Hartlepool 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The second half initially failed to see an increase in entertainment, with both sides appearing to go through the motions.

A long-range effort from Luke James that rolled comfortably into Murphy’s arms was as close as either came to breaking the deadlock early on.

But the Blues did forge ahead as the game finally conjured up a moment of quality on 57 minutes.

Roberts played a fine pass across to Evans, whose low cross into the box was nonchalantly flicked home by NAISMITH in front of the delighted travelling support

It was almost the home fans celebrating moments later, though, as Billy Paynter burst through on goal and was brilliantly denied by Murphy.

There were suddenly chances galore and Roberts fired a shot into the side netting, while Carson stood his ground to make a save after Smith went one-on-one with the keeper.

Cook made his first chance on 64 minutes, as goal hero Naismith made way for Adam McGurk in the Blues’ attack.

It was a Hartlepool sub that almost scored soon after, though, as – just seconds after entering the pitch – Rhys Oates was denied by another super stop from Murphy.

The hosts were starting to look dangerous and Jones got the ball caught under his feet before his eventual shot was blocked.

A second switch followed on 73 minutes as Chaplin replaced Smith, with the latter given a rousing reception as the curtain came down on his loan spell.

But Hartlepool were still causing a threat and Oates should at least have found the target from close range when he met Thomas’ cross.

CHAPLIN wrapped up the victory on 85 minutes, however, when Enda Stevens cut the ball back for him to coolly steer into the bottom corner.

And there was more good news when Whatmough made his long-awaited return by replacing Christian Burgess for the final few minutes.

Hartlepool (4-1-4-1): Carson; Magnay, Bates (R.Jones 50), Jackson, D.Jones; Featherstone; James, Woods (Gray 76), Hawkins, Thomas; Paynter (c) (Oates 68)
Booked: D.Jones
Subs not used: Bartlett, Walker, Richards, Bingham

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Freeman, Burgess (Whatmough 89), Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Naismith (McGurk 64); Smith (Chaplin 73)
Goals: Naismith 57, Chaplin 85
Booked: Freeman
Subs not used: Davies, Haunstrup, Close, Tollitt

Referee: Eddie Ilderton

Attendance: 5,046 (933 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 262016
 
League 2
AFC Wimbledon 0 – 1 Portsmouth

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: AFC Wimbledon 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Andy Madley

Attendance: 4,799 (911 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC