Football

Sep 082015
 

A good day out had by the usual crew on a trip to Wembley, even if I do find it hard to applaud Rooney.

Train journey home the normal nightmare but at least it went back to Bedhampton.

England 2 v 0 Switzerland

Sir Bobby Charlton’s England goalscoring record stood for 45 years, back to a time when the national team were still champions of the world, and the British record transfer fee was the £200,000 that Tottenham Hotspur paid West Ham for Martin Peters. Records are made to be broken, but the longevity of the one that Wayne Rooney surpassed demonstrates the scale of his achievement.

The 50th England goal of Rooney’s career has arrived at last and no matter that it was his third penalty in four days or that the Switzerland goalkeeper Yann Sommer got a hand to it on its way in. More than two months before his 30th birthday, Rooney has passed Charlton’s 49 England goals, one of the great milestones of English football and that achievement will be his to cherish whatever lies ahead.

Will it be broken within the next 45 years? You might say that if anyone has a chance it is Harry Kane who scored his third England goal in the space of four senior caps and sparked life into a qualifier that was hitherto severely lacking a theme. But the night belonged to Rooney who stepped up to hit his penalty at the eastern end of Wembley with eight minutes left and every one of the 75,751 in the ground about to witness a bit of history.

For a few years now it has been clear that Rooney would, catastrophe aside, not fall short in the way that Gary Lineker and then Michael Owen did in pursuit of Charlton’s record. For that reason alone it might be that the accomplishment of 50 goals has lost its capacity for wonder. But it should not be that way. Charlton scored his 49th goal in the pre-1970 World Cup friendly against Colombia. This is a record that has stood for more than a generation.

For Roy Hodgson it means that we can all move on to talking about something else as his side begin the preparation for Euro 2016. This victory was the eighth straight qualifying win and it ensures that England will win Group E. It all helps with Fifa ranking points and potential seedings and it means that England remain the only team with a 100 per cent record in qualification for the tournament.

It was a brief night’s work for Fabian Delph, nine seconds of the game all told when he pulled up sharp and ran a hand along the back of his right thigh. As England caps go, this one came at a cost to Delph who has managed just 16 minutes over two substitute performances for Manchester City having begun the season injured, and he will be anxious this does not prove a longstanding problem.

It was a year to the day that he had made his first England start against the Swiss in Basel and proved a spectacular success in that critical victory for Hodgson’s team. Without him England do lack that briskness in the centre of the pitch that has characterised there best moments over the qualifying campaign.

There was a very early change for Hodgson, bringing on Ross Barkley who had started against San Marino on Saturday only to find himself predictably back on the bench again. To accommodate Barkley’s introduction to the game, Hodgson switched from 4-3-3 to 4-2-3-1 with Barkley in the No 10 role and James Milner and Jonjo Shelvey behind him.

Against a quicker, slicker passing team, Shelvey found himself marooned in midfield more often than was ever the case with the Sanmarinese. As for Milner, he was obliged to adopt the passing, playmaking role that Hodgson would ideally have Jack Wilshere fulfilling. It is not like Milner cannot hit a good pass, it is simply that he cannot do it as often as England would like.

Neither was it Rooney’s best performance before the break. He swept one wide with his right foot on 17 minutes when Milner had played him in through the left channel. Three minutes later the pair of them combined again and Milner, who has one England goal in 56 caps, struck his shot straight at Sommer. Hodgson’s side had started brightly but they got sloppier and Switzerland carved out a couple of chances.

The best of them required Joe Hart to fling himself at the feet of Stoke City’s Xherdan Shaqiri to stop him on his way through on goal. Yet for all the struggles England endured in creating a chance in the first half, the Swiss did little more. This was a tired qualifier towards the end of an uninspiring group. For Hodgson, the challenge was always going to be rousing his England side to treat this as more than just a game after the matter of qualification had been settled.

He changed the formation again before the hour, replacing Shelvey with Kane and moving Rooney back into the No 10 position previously occupied by Barkley. From there Barkley dropped back alongside Milner as the pair in front of the back four. It is the position the Everton man is best-suited to in the long term but not one in which Hodgson has been ready to trust him in.

Kane never regards any game as anything less than of the utmost importance and his fresh legs at the leading edge of the England attack gave the game a new energy. His goal owed much to that precious talent of being in the right place at the right time. On this occasion lurking on the right side of the box to hit Luke Shaw’s well-judged cut back first time inside the near post, and celebrate with his new Alan Shearer-style open palm salute.

With the lead, England never looked back. The Swiss, on the other hand, seemed to give up hope and there was a very lacklustre attempt to get the ball away from Raheem Sterling on the left side of the area with nine minutes to play. The ball was returned to his feet and in full view of the German referee, who had an erratic night, Granit Xhaka clipped the ankle of the England winger.

This was Rooney’s cue, with thousands of mobile phones in the stands behind the goal held up to capture the moment. His goal record in terms of friendly to competitive matches is almost identical to Charlton’s, and he has just one more cap, 107, than the older man. His penalty was hit high and while Sommer laid a glove on it there was more than enough power to take it past him. Rooney has played it cool when it has come to talk of the record in recent months, but for a few seconds, even he seemed happy to bask in the magnitude of this accomplishment.

England (4-3-3): Hart 7; Clyne 6 (Stones 68 – 6), Cahill 6, Smalling 7, Shaw 7; Milner 6, Shelvey 5 (Kane 57 – 7), Delph 5 (Barkley 3 – 6); Oxlade-Chamberlain 5, Rooney 7, Sterling 6.

Switzerland (4-3-3): Sommer 6; Lichtsteiner 5, Klose 5, Schar 6, Rodriguez 5; Xhaka 6, Inler 6, Behrami 5 (Dzemaili 79); Shaqiri , Drmic 5 (Embolo 63), Stocker 5 (Seferovic 72).

Referee: G Rocchi (Italy)

Rating: 6/10

Man of match: Smalling

Booked: Milner

Attendance: 75,751

Sep 052015
 

League Two

0 – 0


Pompey’s unbeaten start to the League Two campaign continued, but they had to settle for a point against Accrington.

In a game of few clear-cut chances, it was the Blues that created the better openings.

Gary Roberts and Matt Tubbs went closest to finding a winner, but both were denied by Stanley keeper Jason Mooney.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that beat Luton in Pompey’s last league outing, meaning Jayden Stockley was preferred to Tubbs up front.

But there was no repeat of the electric start at Kenilworth Road, with chances few and far between in a laboured opening.

The hosts had a couple of dangerous crosses dealt with, while Brian Murphy was not overly troubled by Piero Mingoia’s glancing header at the other end.

Michael Doyle livened things up with an audacious effort from inside his own half on nine minutes, however.

The Blues skipper spotted Mooney off his line after the keeper had charged out to clear a long ball, but his shot flew narrowly wide.

There was a flurry of bookings midway through the half, two of which came following a scuffle in the middle of the pitch.

Referee Brendan Malone took the names of both Ben Davies and Sean McConville, although Pompey’s right-back could feel a little hard done by after being pinned down by his Accrington counterpart.

It was Stockley who had the game’s first decent opening on 33 minutes, volleying Kyle Bennett’s corner inches over the top.

Gareth Evans then went down in the box under pressure from Seamus Conneely, but Malone waved away his penalty appeals.

And Roberts came close to breaking the deadlock seconds before the break, beating his man before stinging Mooney’s fingertips with a fierce drive.


Half Time

(0 – 0)


There was a surprise at the start of the second half, with Murphy failing to reappear and Paul Jones replacing him between the sticks.

And he was called into action on 55 minutes, getting down to his right to push clear a snap-shot from McConville.

Pompey, meanwhile, were exhibiting plenty of neat build-up play, only to be let down by the final ball.

Cook made a double switch to try to improve their attacking fortunes on 66 minutes, with Stockley and Bennett making way for Tubbs and Conor Chaplin.

The latter soon did well to win a corner, which ended with Matt Pearson bravely blocking Doyle’s drive.

The hosts were still struggling to break down a resolute Accrington back-line, however, and the visitors went close to scoring themselves on the break, with a long-range effort from Josh Windass that flew narrowly over.

Chaplin got the crowd on his feet after shaking off his marker and surging towards goal on 80 minutes, but the teenager was unable to bend his shot past a defender.

Tubbs then met Davies’ cross with an acrobatic scissor kick that was flying into the net before Mooney stuck out a hand to palm the ball clear.

And Accrington formed a wall of red shirts in the closing stages to keep Pompey at bay and secure a share of the spoils.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy (Jones 46); Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 66); Stockley (Tubbs 66)
Booked: Burgess, Davies
Subs not used: Webster, Haunstrup, Hollands, McGurk

Accrington (4-4-1-1): Mooney; Pearson, Davies, Winnard, Buxton; Mingoia, Crooks (Procter 87), Conneely, McConville; Windass; Gornell (c) (Kee 74)
Booked: Winnard, Pearson, McConville, Buxton, Davies
Subs not used: Etheridge, Wakefield, Barry, Phillips, Bruna

Referee: Brendan Malone

Attendance: 15,745 (91 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Sep 012015
 

JP Trophy

2 – 0


Young Blues exit Trophy

A fresh-faced Pompey side were knocked out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in the first round at Exeter.

The Blues looked bright before the break, with Adam McGurk and Conor Chaplin both coming close to firing them ahead.

But Ryan Harley opened the scoring for Exeter from the penalty spot after the interval before Alex Nicholls secured their safe passage into the next stage.

Paul Cook handed debuts to three players as he selected a youthful side with only three players aged over 20.

One of those was fit-again summer signing Adam Barton, although the midfielder was handed a role in the centre of defence.

Academy starlets Calvin Davies and Brandon Joseph-Buadi also made their senior bows, while there were maiden starts for both Adam May and Ben Tollitt.

But the inexperienced outfit were unfazed and should have broken the deadlock after just 14 seconds.

A defensive error sent McGurk one-on-one with Bobby Olejnik, but the Grecians keeper got down quickly to parry the ball clear.

Pompey played with plenty of freedom in the opening stages, with Davies looking particularly keen to get forward down the right.

The hosts unsurprisingly started to see more of the ball as the half progressed, but Barton brought one dangerous move to an end, while Danny Butterfield then fired wildly over the bar.

David Wheeler did have the ball in the back of the net on 18 minutes, although referee Lee Swabey had long since blown his whistle for a shove on Adam Webster.

Alex Nicholls came closest to breaking the deadlock for Exeter with a swerving cross that a back-pedalling Paul Jones just about managed to prevent from dipping into the net.

Pompey were creating chances of their own, however, and Chaplin forced another decent stop from Olejnik after latching onto May’s threaded pass.

Tollitt then fired over when well-placed to test Olejnik before Craig Woodman made a vital clearance to stop Chaplin converting McGurk’s cross.

Then, with the interval approaching, Davies won a free-kick wide on the right and Chaplin stepped up to curl the ball against the bar.


Half Time

(0 – 0)


It was the hosts who were first to threaten when Manny Oyeleke sent in a low cross that Ryan Harley turned narrowly wide.

But the Blues soon started to settle and there were half-chances for Tollitt and McGurk to trouble Exeter.

It was the Grecians who broke the deadlock on 54 minutes, however, after Joseph-Buadi brought down Tom McCready in the box.

Referee Lee Swabey pointed straight to the spot and Harley stepped up to emphatically slam home the penalty.

Cook soon made his first switch, with Kal Naismith becoming the latest debutant in place of Joseph-Buadi.

Chances were proving much more difficult to come by in the second half, although skipper Ben Close did have a long-range drive blocked.

But Exeter doubled their advantage on 72 minutes when Nicholls’ shot from out wide flew past Jones’ grasp and into the net.

Another youngster was then handed his senior bow as Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced McGurk.

And Brandon Haunstrup made way on 82 minutes as Kaleem Haitham became the next player off the production line.

The young guns were unable to inspire an unlikely comeback, but the travelling fans still seemed pleased with their glimpse of what the future might hold for Pompey.

Exeter (4-3-3): Olejnik; McCready, Tillson (c), Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Oyeleke, Butterfield, Harley (Jay 60); Nicholls, Wheeler (Morrison 60), Holmes (Reid 75)
Goals: Harley 54 (pen), Nicholls 72
Subs not used: Hamon, Brown

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; C.Davies, Webster, Barton, Haunstrup (Haitham 82); May, Close (c); Tollitt, Chaplin, Joseph-Buadi (Naismith 66); McGurk (Oxlade-Chamberlain 77)
Subs not used: Bass, Yates

Referee: Lee Swabey

Attendance: 2,323 (515 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 292015
 

Luton Town 1 v 2 Portsmouth

Matt Tubbs came off the bench to grab a late winner at Luton as Pompey continued their unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Gareth Evans had given the Blues an early lead, only for Craig Mackail-Smith to cancel it out from the penalty spot.

It looked like the game was heading for a stalemate, until Tubbs popped up late on to send the large travelling support wild with delight.

Jayden Stockley came in as the lone striker in the Blues’ usual 4-2-3-1 system, with Tubbs dropping to the bench.

The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages, without being able to carve out a decent opening.

But they broke the deadlock with their first proper chance on eight minutes – although there was a slice of fortune involved.

Enda Stevens’ cross was cleared by former Pompey trainee Luke Wilkinson, but the ball ricocheted straight into his team-mate Scott Cuthbert and fell kindly for EVANS to slam home.

The lead did not last long, however, as Nigel Atangana barged into Josh McQuoid in the box and referee Peter Bankes pointed straight to the spot.

Mackail-Smith stepped up to take the penalty and confidently slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

After that frenetic opening, the game suddenly fell a bit flat, with the Blues unable to find the attacking fluidity that had been so evident in previous games.

Kyle Bennett did look dangerous when he burst down the left on 21 minutes, but Elliot Justham was quickly off his line to prevent Stockley from making a connection.

They soon received a let-off at the other end, though, when a poor touch from Christian Burgess forced Brian Murphy to exit his area and head clear.

Ryan Hall picked up the loose ball and surged into the box, only for Pompey’s keeper to make a quick recovery and smother the danger.

Bankes would then have breathed a sigh of relief on 34 minutes when he inadvertently intercepted Evans’ pass, but Cameron McGeehan fired wide to spare the official’s blushes.

The game suddenly livened up just before the break and Justham held a curling effort from Bennett before Mackail-Smith headed a Stephen O’Donnell cross wide.

Justham then did well to deny Stockley from close range, but had a simpler task in keeping out Gary Roberts’ angled shot.

Half Time: Luton 1 Pompey 1

It was the hosts who started the second half brighter, although it took until 54 minutes for them to create a serious scoring opportunity.

Pompey would have been responsible for their own downfall, however, after a mix-up between Burgess and his defensive partner Matt Clarke.

Mackail-Smith picked up the loose ball as Luton bore down on goal, but his pass for McGeehan was not quite right and the midfielder fired wide.

The Blues soon carved out a chance of their own as Stockley bent in a dangerous low cross that was just out of reach for the onrushing Evans.

Evans then met a Bennett corner with a glancing header that was heading for the bottom corner until a well-placed Olly Lee cleared it from the line.

Both sides looked capable of grabbing a winner, although it was Pompey who had the next opportunity when Evans was crudely felled by Hall.

Roberts stepped up to take the free-kick from 25 yards out and his effort struck the top of the wall and looped narrowly over the bar.

Cook made his first substitution on 73 minutes as Stockley made way for Tubbs, with Conor Chaplin replacing Bennett moments later.

Both sides continued to show plenty of attacking intent, although some resolute defending meant the goalkeepers were not being overly tested.

But there was still time for a late winner as Chaplin latched on to a long ball and held off a defender to get a shot away.

Justham stuck out an arm to palm clear the teenager’s effort, but TUBBS was on hand to convert the loose ball.

Luton (4-1-4-1): Justham; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Wilkinson, Griffiths; O’Brien (Lee 46); McQuoid, McGeehan, Smith, Hall (Ruddock 82); Mackail-Smith (Marriott 71)
Goals: Mackail-Smith 15 (pen)
Booked: Smith, McGeehan, Wilkinson
Subs not used: Tyler, McNulty, McCourt, Green

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 82), Bennett (Chaplin 75); Stockley (Tubbs 73)
Goals: Evans 8, Tubbs 90
Subs not used: Jones, Webster, Haunstrup, Hollands

Referee: Peter Bankes

Attendance: 9,083 (1,032 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 252015
 

Portsmouth 1 v 2 Reading

Conor Chaplin’s fine finish could not keep Pompey in the Capital One Cup, as Reading fought from behind to claim a narrow second round victory.

The teenager capped an impressive first half team performance by giving the hosts a deserved interval lead.

But the Championship side were much improved after the break and Nick Blackman drew them level before substitute Garath McCleary grabbed a late winner.

Paul Cook made eight changes from the side that drew with Morecambe in the league at the weekend.

Matt Clarke, Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans – now being deployed at right-back – were the only survivors.

Saturday’s last-gasp goal hero Jayden Stockley came in up top, while Paul Jones took his place between the sticks.

There were also starts for Brandon Haunstrup and Adam Webster at the back and Ben Close, Danny Hollands, Adam McGurk and Chaplin in midfield.

It was an open start to proceedings, with both sides looking to get forward without creating any clear-cut chances.

Simon Cox sent a couple of shots off target for the visitors – wearing their distinctive African violet away kit – while Ali Al-Habsi did well to claim a McGurk cross before it could reach Stockley at the far post.

Jones did well to stop the Royals opening the scoring midway through the half when he denied Blackman from point-blank range.

Stockley then should have put Pompey ahead on 27 minutes after Bennett had collected a neat chipped pass from Hollands.

The winger showed great skill on the left and sent in a perfect cross for Stockley, who somehow managed to fire wide from just a few yards out.

Reading then broke quickly up the other end of the pitch and Jones was quickly off his line to deny Hal Robson-Kanu.

The visitors went close again on 37 minutes when Jones palmed away Chris Gunter’s cross and Cox hooked the loose ball over.

Instead it was Pompey who forged ahead moments later – thanks to a fine finish from CHAPLIN.

Al-Habsi beat the teenager to Hollands’ long pass, but made a complete mess of his attempted clearance.

Chaplin was forced out wide, but kept his composure to find the net with a fierce finish from the tightest of angles.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Reading 0

Pompey were not content to sit back on their lead once the second half got back underway.

The hosts made some promising incursions into their opponents’ area, while Al-Habsi did well to beat Webster to a dangerous Bennett cross.

Reading did threaten with a neat passing move just past the hour mark, but it ended with Danny Williams firing harmlessly over.

And the visitors were level on 64 minutes when Blackman cut inside from the right and slotted a neat finish into the bottom corner.

It was the Royals who were now looking the more threatening side and Clarke made a good block to deny Robson-Kanu.

Cook switched things up on 79 minutes, bringing on James Dunne for his first appearance of the season in place of McGurk, with Chaplin making way for Ben Tollitt soon after.

But it was a Reading substitute who made an impact by firing the visitors ahead, as McCleary was left alone to convert at the far post following some good build-up between Robson-Kanu and Stephen Quinn.

Matt Tubbs replaced Bennett for the final few minutes, but the Blues were unable to find a leveller and it was Reading who took their place in the third round draw.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Evans, Webster, Clarke, Haunstrup; Close, Hollands (c); McGurk (Dunne 79), Chaplin (Tollitt 83), Bennett (Tubbs 89); Stockley
Goals: Chaplin 40
Subs not used: Murphy, Burgess, Atangana, Roberts

Reading (4-1-4-1): Al-Habsi; Gunter, Hector (c), Ferdinand, Obita; Norwood; Blackman (McShane 89), Williams (Tshibola 90+2), Quinn, Robson-Kanu; Cox (McCleary 69)
Goals: Blackman 64, McCleary 84
Booked: Robson-Kanu, Norwood, Williams
Subs not used: Moore, Stacey, Fernandez, Sa

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 18,190 (2,082 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 222015
 

Portsmouth 3 v 3 Morecombe

Jayden Stockley scored deep into stoppage-time to complete a remarkable comeback and secure a point for Pompey against Morecambe

The visitors rocked their hosts with first half goals from Tom Barkhuizen, Alan Goodall and Andy Fleming.

But a couple of fine Gary Roberts strikes either side of the interval brought the Blues right back into the game.

Enda Stevens’ dismissal for two bookable offences failed to halt their attacking intent as Pompey poured forward at every opportunity.

And their perseverance was rewarded in the fifth minute of stoppage-time when Stockley dived to head home the equaliser.

Paul Cook named an unchanged side, as he elected to use the same starting 11 for a fourth successive league match.

That meant Ben Davies – who went off at Crawley during the week – had sufficiently recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place at right-back.

Pompey looked to attack straight from kick-off and a neat move ended with Nigel Atangana firing over in the opening seconds.

Stevens then skipped into the box before Adam Dugdale came across to thwart him, before Matt Tubbs could not quite guide a corner on target.

The hosts were dominating possession yet again, but were caught with a counter-attacking sucker punch on 11 minutes.

Michael Doyle slipped and Davies’ clearance ricocheted into Barkhuizen’s path, with the wide-man smashing a shot past the helpless Brian Murphy.

The goal seemed to rock the Blues and a period of sluggish play ensued, with Cook’s men guilty of far too many misplaced passes.

However, Pompey started to move through the gears again and Roberts guided Stevens’ pass narrowly past the post.

But the Shrimps soon doubled their advantage after Christian Burgess had been booked for a foul on Aaron Wildig.

A diving Murphy was able to palm Jamie Devitt’s free-kick behind, but the Morecambe midfielder’s resulting corner was headed home by Goodall.

Wildig then tried to catch Murphy out with a neat chip that dipped onto the crossbar before the same played dragged a shot wide.

Shrimps keeper Barry Roche was booked for taking too long over a goal-kick on 36 minutes, although the visitors arguably did not need to waste time as they continued to open the Blues up on the break.

And they soon went three goals ahead when Fleming arrived at the far post to steer home Devitt’s cross.

Pompey looked all at sea, but there was a glimmer of hope late in the half when ROBERTS was brought down on the edge of the box and picked himself up to curl home an impressive free-kick.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Morecambe 3

Davies had a chance for the Blues soon after the restart, with a close-range volley that hit Dugdale in the face and flew safe.

There was then danger at the other end when Matt Clarke under-hit a pass, but the teenage centre-back recovered well to win the ball back.

And Pompey were soon back on the attack and Tubbs rose to glance Kyle Bennett’s cross inches wide, although it would not have counted as the linesman’s flag was raised.

The hosts were not having any trouble getting hold of the ball, but Roche was not being overly tested between the sticks.

They did reduce the deficit further thanks to another moments of magic from ROBERTS on 65 minutes, however.

The midfielder picked the ball up and deceived a couple of defenders with his footwork before curling a shot into the bottom corner.

Cook freshened up his front line with a substitution on 70 minutes, as Tubbs made way for aStockley.

But the Blues were soon reduced to 10 men when Stevens caught Aaron McGowan and was shown his second yellow card – and a subsequent red – by referee Roger East.

Adam Webster was brought on for Davies as Pompey switched to playing with three central defenders.

They were leaving plenty of men forward, safe in the knowledge that Morecambe were happy to sit back and soak up pressure.

Cook made his final change on 80 minutes as Adam McGurk replaced Gareth Evans and immediately received a chance to level when he rose to head Bennett’s cross narrowly wide.

Bennet then had an opportunity of his own, cutting inside and drilling in a shot that Roche did well to punch clear.

Morecambe were hanging on and Roche pushed Clarke’s header over before keeping out a Stockley drive.

And Webster missed a great opportunity after being left unchallenged in the box, only to head over.

The defender then saw his penalty claims for a handball waved away as Pompey continued to pour forward.

And just when it looked like time would run out on them, Webster delivered a perfect cross for STOCKLEY to convert with a diving header.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies (Webster 74), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans (McGurk 79), Roberts, Bennett; Tubbs (Stockley 70)
Goals: Roberts 42, 65, Stockley 90+5
Sent off: Stevens (two yellow cards)
Booked: Burgess
Subs not used: Jones, Haunstrup, Hollands, Chaplin

Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Beeley (c), Dugdale, Parrish, Wilson; Fleming, Goodall (Kenyon 47); Devitt, Wildig, Barkhuizen (Molyneux 56); Miller (McGowan 68)
Goals: Barkhuizen 11, Goodall 25, Fleming 38
Booked: Fleming, Roche, Beeley, Wildig
Subs not used: Thompson, Bailey, Ryan, Mullin

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 16,052 (69 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 182015
 

Crawley 0 v 0 Portsmouth

Pompey dominated for long periods at Crawley, but had to settle for a point in Sussex.

There were not an abundance of clear-cut chances at either end, although Matt Tubbs, Matt Clarke and Adam McGurk had the best opportunities for the Blues.

Paul Cook named the same side for the third league match in succession.

There was a familiar face in the opposition line-up with defender Sonny Bradley named Crawley skipper.

Pompey saw plenty of the ball in the early stages – and that was a trend that continued throughout the contest.

But while the visitors were looking composed on the ball, they were struggling to find the right final pass to trouble the Reds.

They did have an opening on nine minutes when a Nigel Atangana pass threaded the opposition defence.

Tubbs raced onto it, but Freddie Woodman came off his line to save and the keeper reacted quickly to gather the loose ball.

Kyle Bennett was next to go close midway through the half, beating his man, cutting into the box and curling a shot narrowly over the crossbar.

The home fans were starting to grow restless as their side kept gifting the ball right back to the Blues.

They did have one opportunity on 33 minutes, but Brian Murphy was able to get behind Luke Rooney’s fierce long-range effort.

The action soon switched to the other end of the pitch and Rooney tugged back the advancing Bennett, earning the game’s first booking from referee Fred Graham.

Joe McNerney then had to race across the box to stop Tubbs from pouncing on a superb incisive pass from Christian Burgess.

And Clarke saw his header cleared off the line by Lee Barnard as Pompey finished the half with a flourish.

Half Time: Crawley 0 Pompey 0

Pompey started the second half as they ended the first – on the attack.

The hosts had to deal with a corner in the opening seconds before Woodman did well to gather a dangerous low cross from Roberts.

Cook made an attacking switch on 52 minutes as right-back Ben Davies made way for forward McGurk.

The Blues were still seeing most of the ball, but Crawley came close to snatching a goal on 52 minutes when Gwion Edwards fired into the side netting.

It was still Pompey looking the more threatening, however, and McGurk almost snuck a shot into the bottom corner, only for Woodman to get down and push it clear.

Tubbs did have the ball in the back of the net on 68 minutes, but he was flagged offside after collecting Atangana’s pass.

With the game starting to fall a little flat, Cook made a double substitution as Bennett and Tubbs made way for Conor Chaplin and Jayden Stockley.

That seemed to spark them back into life, although Crawley came close to netting on the break.

The dangerous Lewis Young managed to break free down the right and into the box, but could not beat Murphy at the keeper’s near post.

Pompey continued to push forward in search of a late winner, but the hosts held firm to ensure a share of the spoils.

Crawley (4-1-4-1): Woodman; Donnelly, McNerney, Ashton, Bradley (c); Walton; Young, Rooney (Bawling 77), Smith, Edwards; Barnard (Harrold 64)
Booked: Rooney, Smith
Subs not used: Preston, van den Bogaert, Fenelon, Deacon

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies (McGurk 52), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 81); Tubbs (Stockley 81)
Subs not used: Jones, Webster, Haunstrup, Hollands

Referee: Fred Graham

Attendance: 4,003 (1,706 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 152015
 
League 2
Plymouth Argyle 1 – 2 Portsmouth

 

Pompey extended their winning run to three matches thanks to a couple of penalties in Plymouth.

They looked bright early on, but did not go ahead until the stroke of half-time when Enda Stevens was fouled and Matt Tubbs scored from the spot.

Gary Roberts was then brought down late on and stepped up to open his Blues account.

Gregg Wylde immediately reduced the deficit, but the visitors held on to leave the large army of travelling supporters feeling ecstatic.

Paul Cook reverted to the side that beat Dagenham in the league the previous Saturday.

That meant Brian Murphy, Christian Burgess, Stevens, Nigel Atangana, Michael Doyle, Roberts and Tubbs all returned after the midweek Capital One Cup triumph over Derby.

Pompey looked full of confidence following their back-to-back victories and came close to taking the lead in just the second minute.

Gareth Evans burst through the centre, only to be denied first by Plymouth keeper Luke McCormick and then skipper Curtis Nelson.

Kyle Bennett tried his luck from the edge of the box soon after, although McCormick was again equal to it, sticking up a hand to palm the ball over.

It was the Blues looking the more dominant side and Roberts met Evans’ cross with a volley that was deflected over.

The hosts did begin to apply some pressure towards the end of the half, however, and it took a fine save from Murphy to keep out Graham Carey’s fierce volley.

But the action was soon back up the other end and after Tubbs had swiped at thin air when well-placed inside the area, Atangana drilled a low effort straight at McCormick.

It looked the sides would be going in level at the break – however, there was still time for some late drama.

Referee Steve Martin pointed to the spot following a challenge by Hiram Boateng on Stevens and TUBBS stepped up to emphatically smash home the penalty.

Half Time: Plymouth 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

It was the Blues who were first to threaten after the interval when Evans cut inside from the right and fizzed a shot narrowly wide.

And Tubbs also had an opportunity to grab his second of the afternoon, breaking into the box and flashing an effort past the post.

But the visitors were not looking as fluent as they had been before the break and were guilty of losing possession too easily.

Cook decided to make his first switch on 69 minutes as goalscorer Tubbs made way for Jayden Stockley up top.

The striker made an immediate impact – but not in a good way, as Martin showed him a yellow card for a challenge on Nelson.

Plymouth’s captain made way after being cut above his eye and replacement Ryan Brunt almost levelled, but could only turn Carey’s corner wide.

Another Carey set-piece was swung into the Blues box on 76 minutes and it was agonisingly out of reach for several of his team-mates.

Bennett saw his shot clear the crossbar at the other end as Pompey attempted to stem Plymouth’s attacking tide.

And Stockley came close to increasing the visitors’ lead when he met Roberts’ corner and was only denied by a good low McCormick save.

Victory did seem secure on 86 minutes, however, when Roberts burst into the box and was clumsily tripped by Gary Sawyer.

Martin pointed to the spot for the second time and, with Tubbs off the pitch, ROBERTS stepped up to hammer the ball into the bottom corner.

A stunning volleyed finish from Wylde ensured a nervy finale, but the Blues held on to secure all three points.

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c) (Brunt 72), Hartley, Sawyer; McHugh, Boateng; Tanner, Carey, Wylde; Reid
Goals: Wylde 89
Booked: Boateng, Mellor, Sawyer
Subs not used: Bittner, Purrington, Cox, Simpson, Bentley, Harvey

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana (Hollands 71), Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 90), Bennett; Tubbs (Stockley 69)
Goals: Tubbs 45+2 (pen), Roberts 86 (pen)
Booked: Davies, Stockley, Hollands
Subs not used: Jones, Webster, Haunstrup, Chaplin

Referee: Steve Martin

Attendance: 11,476 (1,719 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 122015
 

Portsmouth 2 – 1 Derby County

Pompey pulled off a Capital One Cup giant-killing as they dumped Derby out at the first round.

After a positive first half had yielded no goals, Adam McGurk took advantage of some unsure goalkeeping to open the scoring.

Jason Shackell headed the second tier side level before substitute Conor Chaplin sent Fratton wild with a cool finish.

Paul Cook rung the changes, with seven players making way from the side that comfortably beat Dagenham in the league at the weekend.

In came McGurk, Jayden Stockley and Brandon Haunstrup for their full debuts, while there were also starts for Paul Jones, Adam Webster, Ben Close and Danny Hollands.

Only Ben Davies, who wore the captain’s armband, Matt Clarke, Gareth Evans and Kyle Bennett retained their places in the line-up.

Pompey were certainly not over-awed against their Championship opponents and immediately looked to get at Derby.

Haunstrup was finding plenty of joy down the left and saw one cross blocked before another just failed to find Stockley.

A ball then fell invitingly to McGurk inside the box, but he dragged his angled drive wide of the post.

Bennett also failed to find the target and was then involved in a neat passing move with Close and Stockley that ended with Alex Pearce heading clear.

It was the Blues looking more threatening without really testing Rams keeper Lee Grant and Bennett saw another couple of long-range efforts fly narrowly wide.

Derby created their first opening in between, with Craig Forsyth finding Andreas Weimann and the Austrian seeing his shot deflected behind by Webster.

Grant was called in to action on 32 minutes and did well to turn behind Haunstrup’s angled strike.

Despite Pompey’s dominance, it was the visitors who had two good opportunities to open the scoring late in the half.

First they got opened up at the back and a well-placed Clarke had to clear Johnny Russell’s low cross from the line.

Jeff Hendrick then did well to burst through the centre and advance on goal, but sent his shot inches past the post.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Derby 0

It was Derby who were first to threaten after the restart and Weimann had an effort deflected into the side netting.

But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 49 minutes, with McGURK netting on his debut.

The goal owed a lot to the work of Stockley, who broke down the right and sent in a teasing cross for his team-mate.

McGurk met it well, but Grant should have done better, with the County stopper only able to help it into the net.

That’s was McGurk’s last meaningful contribution and he soon made way for Enda Stevens.

But that failed to blunt Pompey’s attacking verve and they almost doubled their lead on 56 minutes.

Bennett delivered the ball into the box and first Stockley and then Davies saw efforts well saved by Grant.

Chaplin then came on for Haunstrup as Cook decided to shuffle his pack once more.

However, Derby grabbed an equaliser on 74 minutes when Shackell found space at the far post to head home Russell’s corner.

But they were not level for long and Fratton erupted when Stevens sent in a low cross that CHAPLIN expertly guided past Grant’s grasp and into the net.

The breathless play continued and the visitors felt aggrieved when they were denied a spot-kick moments later.

Hollands appeared to foul Russell inside the box, but referee Paul Tierney felt otherwise and the victim’s free-kick went over.

Derby poured forward in search of an equaliser in the closing stages, but the Blues held firm to book their place in Thursday’s second round draw.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies (c), Webster, Clarke, Haunstrup (Chaplin 71); Close, Hollands; Evans, Bennett (Tollitt 74), McGurk (Stevens 55); Stockley
Goals: McGurk 49, Chaplin 76
Subs not used: Murphy, Burgess, Atangana, Tubbs

Derby (4-2-3-1): Grant; Ssewankambo (Thorne 70), Pearce, Shackell, Forsyth; Hendrick, Baird (c); Russell, Dawkins (Ince 60), Weimann; Bent (Martin 60)
Goals: Shackell 74
Booked: Thorne
Subs not used: Carson, Keogh, Warnock, Hanson

Referee: Paul Tierney

Attendance: 11,573 (1,134 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 082015
 
League 2
Portsmouth 3 – 0 Dagenham & Redbridge

 

The Paul Cook era at Pompey began in spectacular fashion as three second half goals secured a comfortable victory over Dagenham.

A packed crowd saw the Blues dominate the first half without managing to open the scoring.

But that all changed after the interval when Gareth Evans headed home the opener to get the Fratton party started.

And Kyle Bennett then took over with a couple of fine strikes to ensure the home fans left the ground in buoyant mood.

Cook handed debuts to nine players, with Nigel Atanagana and Matt Tubbs the only starters to have ended last season at Fratton Park.

There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, however, with former Pompey loanees Josh Passley and Nyron Nosworthy in the Dagenham side.

Before kick-off both sets of supporters heartily took part in a minute’s applause in memory of PST chairman Ken Malley, who sadly passed away earlier in the summer.

When the game got underway in glorious sunshine it was the hosts who immediately looked the more threatening.

A lovely chipped pass from Gary Roberts had to be cleared behind by Matt Richards, while Christian Burgess headed wide from the resulting corner.

Nosworthy then did well to intercept Tubbs’ centre following a quick break up the pitch by Bennett.

Another incisive pass from Bennett was just out of reach for Tubbs on 11 minutes, while Roberts saw his effort deflected behind moments later.

Pompey were doing all the pressing and Bennett was next to go close after being fed by skipper Michael Doyle, but saw his shot curl narrowly over.

And it took a superb save from Mark Cousins to keep the scores level on 19 minutes, with the Daggers keeper flinging out a hand to stop Tubbs’ fierce drive flying into the bottom corner.

The game started to quieten down after that frantic opening and there was a bizarre moment midway through the half when referee Carl Boyeson allowed the players a break for drinks.

Pompey started to move through the gears again afterwards and a Roberts free-kick was headed clear before Nosworthy was forced to turn a dangerous low Bennett cross behind for a corner.

The visitors finally had an opening on 36 minutes when the ball bounced around the Blues box before being hacked to safety by Atangana.

But the action was soon back up the other end of the pitch and Evans dragged a shot inches past the post.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Dagenham & Redbridge 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Both sides had long-range sighters at the start of the second half, with first Bennett and then Jodi Jones narrowly missing the target.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on 51 minutes when Bennett’s corner found EVANS at the far post and he headed back into the opposite corner.

Dagenham came close to hitting back immediately, with Ashley Hemmings’ drive deflected into the side netting by Ben Davies.

At the other end, Burgess was proving an aerial threat from set-pieces and twice he headed behind after meeting corners from Bennett and Roberts.

But it was BENNETT who doubled the advantage on 62 minutes, collecting Enda Stevens’ throw, cutting inside from the left and smashing an emphatic finish off the underside of the bar.

Pompey were forced into a change on 68 minutes when the impressive Atangana limped off and was replaced by Danny Hollands.

Tubbs almost added a third goal seconds later when he met Roberts’ cross with a looping header that was clawed away by Cousins.

Instead it was BENNETT who strengthened the lead on 74 minutes with another stunning strike from 25 yards after collecting the ball from Roberts.

That was the winger’s last involvement, however, as he soon made way for Jayden Stockley in the Blues attack, receiving a standing ovation as he left the pitch.

Pompey kept pushing forward in search of more goals, with Roberts and Burgess both coming close in the final few minutes.

But the Blues – and their supporters – seemed more than satisfied with their three-goal haul when the final whistle blew.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana (Hollands 68), Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Bennett (Stockley 76); Tubbs (Chaplin 84)
Goals: Evans 51, Bennett 62, 74
Subs not used: Jones, Webster, Haunstrup, McGurk

Dag & Red (4-4-2): Cousins; Passley, Partridge, Nosworthy, Widdowson; Jones, Boucaud (c), Richards, Hemmings; McClure (Ferdinand 46), Cureton
Subs not used: O’Brien, Connors, Hamalainen, Chambers, Doidge

Referee: Carl Boyeson

Attendance: 16,948 (279 away fans)

Portsmouth FC