Football

Mar 232016
 
IN
Conor Wilkinson

(21)
Bolton Wanderers


Pompey have signed Conor Wilkinson on loan from Bolton until the end of the season

The 21-year-old striker – who will wear the number 25 shirt during his time at Fratton Park – would be eligible to feature in any play-off matches.

But he will not be able to appear in the Blues’ Easter clashes with Notts County and AFC Wimbledon as he is currently away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland under-21 side.

Wilkinson has recently finished a stint on loan with fellow League Two side Newport and played at Fratton Park when the Welsh side won 3-0 earlier this month.

He made 12 appearances for County and has previously spent time with Torquay, Oldham and Barnsley.

Portsmouth FC
Mar 192016
 
League 2
Mansfield Town 1 – 1 Portsmouth

Tafazolli own-goal secures Blues a point

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: Mansfield 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Carl Boyeson

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

Portsmouth FC
Mar 122016
 
League 2
Portsmouth 0 – 3 Newport County

Pompey’s good run of form was abruptly halted as they lost at home to Newport.

Darren Jones headed the visitors in front during a first half that was extremely low on quality.

The Blues were then controversially reduced to 10 men when Gary Roberts was shown a second booking for alleged simulation.

And County ensured that they would take all three points back to south Wales, as Scott Boden and Dean Morgan increased their lead.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that won convincingly at Accrington earlier in the week.

The switch came up front, where on-loan Michael Smith made way for top scorer Marc McNulty.

It was a warm and sunny afternoon on the south coast, but there certainly was not a spring in the step of the players.

There was not much to lift the crowd in an incredibly low-tempo opening to the game, with shots thin on the ground.

McNulty dragged the ball wide from the edge of the box, while, at the other end, Boden hit a tame effort straight into Ryan Fulton’s arms.

With little footballing action to excite those in the stands, referee Ben Toner provided the only incidents of note by brandishing a flurry of yellow cards.

Mark Byrne probably deserved his for a cynical challenge on Gareth Evans, although the bookings for Enda Stevens and Danny Hollands looked harsh.

But that was the least of Pompey’s worries, as – despite County not offering much of a threat – they fell behind on 34 minutes.

Medy Elito’s free-kick was flicked on by Boden and Jones out-muscled Fulton to head home, with Toner ignoring the cries of foul from the Blues keeper.

The hosts tried to inject some more urgency into their play, but were finding it difficult to breach a well-organised Exiles defence.

Their best chance arrived in stoppage-time when Joe Day dropped Ben Davies’ cross, but McNulty was too close to the keeper to fire the loose ball past him.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Newport 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Cook, unsurprisingly, made an attacking switch at the break, with Evans the man to make way for Smith.

And there certainly seemed to be an increase in tempo as Pompey set about trying to find an equaliser.

Day was twice called into action in the opening stages, although was not overly troubled by a shot from Roberts and header from Smith.

But the Blues came agonisingly close to scoring on 57 minutes when Smith was inches away from meeting a fine low cross from Kyle Bennett.

Their hopes of getting anything from the game were dealt a severe blow moments later, however, when they were reduced to 10 men.

Roberts went down on the edge of the box and claimed a free-kick, but Toner decided he had dived.

Having already booked the midfielder for a trip on Elito, he displayed a second yellow card followed by a red – much to the ire of most of those inside Fratton Park.

Cook soon made his second substitution of the afternoon, withdrawing Bennett and bringing on Kal Naismith.

But Newport made their numerical advantage count on 69 minutes when they doubled their lead after Pompey had lost possession.

The ball was worked to Elito out on the left and the winger’s cross was headed home by Boden from close range.

Conor Chaplin was immediately brought on for McNulty and soon had a chance, but could only hook the ball over from 12 yards.

He then teed-up Smith with a neat pass, with Day getting down low to his right to save an angled drive.

Instead, it was Newport who scored to complete a miserable afternoon for the Blues, with substitute Morgan converting a low cross from Byrne.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Smith 46), Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 61); McNulty (Chaplin 70)
Sent off: Roberts (two yellow cards)
Booked: Stevens, Hollands, Burgess
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, McGurk

Newport (4-1-3-2): Day; Holmes, Donacien, Jones, Hughes; Byrne (c); Rodman, O’Sullivan, Elito (Gosling 74); Boden (Morgan 77), Ayina (Wilkinson 61)
Goals: Jones 34, Boden 69, Morgan 87
Booked: Byrne, O’Sullivan
Subs not used: Green, Partridge, Barrow, Klukowski

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 16,245 (386 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 082016
 
League 2
Accrington Stanley 1 – 3 Portsmouth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: Accrington 0 Pompey 3

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 1,841 (584 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 052016
 

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