Kal Naismith and Nicke Kabamba
End Of Contract
Kal Naismith and Nicke Kabamba
End Of Contract
Portsmouth Football Club can confirm that Jez Bedford, Nicke Kabamba and Theo Widdrington will be released following the expiration of their contracts this summer.
The club have also been unable to reach agreement with Kal Naismith over a new deal and he has decided to pursue options elsewhere.
We would like to thank all those players for their service to the club and wish them well for the future.
Pompey have chosen to take up the option of a new deal for goalkeeper Alex Bass and defender Brandon Haunstrup, and are also talking with Adam May about a new contract for the midfielder.
The club are also in discussions with Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain about extending his contract as he recovers from a broken leg.
Christian Burgess, Conor Chaplin, Matt Clarke, Ben Close, Dion Donohue, Gareth Evans, Oliver Hawkins, Jamal Lowe, Luke McGee, Brett Pitman, Danny Rose, Nathan Thompson and Jack Whatmough are all still under contract.
Sylvain Deslandes, Tareiq Holmes-Dennis, Stephen Henderson, Matty Kennedy, Stuart O’Keefe, Connor Ronan and Anton Walkes have returned to their parent clubs following the end of their loan deals at Fratton Park and we thank them for their contributions.
Peterborough United 0
Brett Pitman bagged a brace as Pompey secured a comfortable victory over Peterborough to finish eighth in League One.
They both arrived in an electric spell of first half football that belied the game’s status as an end of season dead rubber.
The prolific striker also missed a great chance to claim his first Blues hat-trick, while the fare on offer after the interval was significantly more forgettable.
Kenny Jackett made four changes from the side beaten at Bury the previous week.
The most notable incoming was Alex Bass, with the academy graduate handed his league debut between the sticks.
There were also starts for Brandon Haunstrup, Gareth Evans and Kal Naismith, with Luke McGee, Dion Donohue, Connor Ronan and Oli Hawkins all dropping to the bench.
Matt Clarke had plenty of reason to celebrate before kick-off, as he picked up The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season award – one of a host of trophies dished out.
And he was up for a Gareth Evans corner on 13 minutes, only for PITMAN to get there first and head Pompey into the lead.
It was a quiet evening for Bass in the south coast sunshine, although he did well to come from his line and dive at the feet of Idris Kanu.
Most of the action was taking place at the other end of the pitch, however, and it came as no surprise when the advantage was doubled on 25 minutes.
An angled drive from Jamal Lowe may well have been heading for net anyway, but PITMAN made sure by tapping the ball into the net from a yard out.
He really should have completed his treble before the break following some fine attacking play from Clarke.
The defender charged forward from the back and accepted a return pass from Haunstrup before back-heeling the ball into the path of Pitman, who blazed over from close range.
And the skipper went close again late in the half, with Jonathan Bond at full stretch to push clear his swerving strike.
Peterborough United 0
If the first half made you long for the season to continue, then the second would have had you booking your summer holiday.
There were certainly no notable opportunities to speak of in a period of football that was played at a pedestrian pace.
Evans dragged a long-range shot at one end, while Bass made a comfortable save at the other when Clarke’s block took the sting from Danny Lloyd’s effort.
Fratton Park was briefly livened when Lowe went down in the box, but referee John Busby waved away his appeals.
There were also a couple more half-chances for Pitman, but nothing that ever looked like increasing his impressive tally.
Matty Kennedy replaced Naismith for the closing stages, with the outgoing players receiving warm applause as he vacated the pitch.
The game then continued to meander towards its conclusion, as players and fans alike seemed happy to bask in the sunshine.
The whistle then blew to signal the end of Pompey’s first season back in the third tier and a final position they can certainly be satisfied with.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): Bass; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Haunstrup; O’Keefe; Lowe, Evans, Close, Naismith (Kennedy 77); Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 13, 25
Subs not used: McGee, Donohue, May, Ronan, Chaplin, Hawkins
Peterborough (4-4-1-1): Bond; Shephard, Baldwin (c), Taylor, Hughes; Maddison, Da Silva Lopes, Grant, Edwards; Cooper (Lloyd 46); Kanu (Ward 46)
Subs not used: Tyler, Anderson, Doughty, Forrester, Marriott
Referee: John Busby
Pompey’s slim chance of claiming a play-off spot was ended after they were beaten 1-0 at already relegated Bury.
In truth, neither side deserved to win a dire contest that did little to entertain another large travelling army.
But it was the Shakers who were able to celebrate the consolation of three points, as George Miller stole the ball from Luke McGee to score.
Kenny Jackett made four changes from the side that were beaten at home by Charlton the previous week.
Oli Hawkins returned up front and Connor Ronan started wide on the left in a 4-4-2 system, while there were also places for Stuart O’Keefe and Christian Burgess.
Gareth Evans and Brandon Haunstrup both dropped to the bench, as Jack Whatmough missed out through injury and Kal Naismith was not included in the squad.
The first half was an instantly forgettable affair, with little in the way of goalmouth action at either end of the pitch.
It was typical end-of-season fare, as both sides displayed plenty of energy, but not much quality in the final third.
Ben Close fizzed a dangerous delivery across the face of goal, although none of his team-mates were there to get on the end of it.
Bury were mildly more threatening and Harry Bunn had an angled effort that cleared the crossbar.
Jay O’Shea then turned sharply inside the Blues box and hooked the ball narrowly over, in what was probably the best chance of the half.
Hawkins should have fond the target when he dived to meet Jamal Lowe’s cross on 24 minutes, although his blushes were spared by the linesman’s flag.
The hosts were then forced into a change when Bunn went down off the ball and was replaced by Tsun Dai.
Pompey started to find a bit more fluidity just before the break, although Brett Pitman and Lowe were both unable to find the target.
Any hope that the second half was going to be livelier than the first appeared to be dashed when O’Shea failed to beat the first man with a dangerous free-kick straight after the restart.
But the Blues went closer moments later, with Hawkins meeting Lowe’s cross and sending a header looping onto the roof of the net.
There was then a nervy moment for the hosts when Miller caught Matt Clarke with a flailing arm, although referee Andy Haines opted to brandish only a yellow card.
Jackett made his first change on 55 minutes, with Hawkins withdrawn for Matty Kennedy, resulting in a switch back to a 4-1-4-1 system.
A series of corners caused problems for the Shakers, as O’Keefe and Pitman both had efforts deflected off target, while Burgess then headed over.
Another set of fresh legs was introduced just past the hour mark, with Dion Donohue making way for Haunstrup.
Bury almost broke the deadlock soon after following an almighty scramble in the box, but a well-placed Pitman was able to hack Miller’s effort from the line.
It was only a brief reprieve for the Blues, however, as Miller did open the scoring for the hosts on 67 minutes.
But it was a goal that should have been avoided, as Kennedy passed back to McGee and when he took a touch, the Shakers striker nipped in to steal the ball and slot it home.
Kennedy went down under pressure from Ryan Cooney as Pompey sought to get back on level terms, only for appeals for a penalty to be waved away by Haines.
Bury missed a good opportunity to double their lead, however, when Saul Shotton fired over after McGee had punched clear a corner.
Conor Chaplin replaced Ronan for the final few moments and saw a stoppage-time shot brilliant pushed past the post by Joe Murphy.
Burgess then saw his header cleared from the line from the resulting corner, as the Blues were unable to force a late equaliser.
Bury (4-4-1-1): Murphy; Cooney (Clarke 80), Shotton, Thopson, Leigh; Ismail, Danns (c), Styles, Bunn (Dai 33); O’Shea; Miller (Sang 90+2)
Goals: Miller 67
Subs not used: Ripley, Tutte, Adams, Hulme
Pompey (4-4-2): McGee; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue (Haunstrup 63); Lowe, Close, O’Keefe, Ronan (Chaplin 85); Pitman (c), Hawkins (Kennedy 55)
Booked: Thompson, Donohue
Subs not used: Bass, Deslandes, May, Evans
Referee: Andy Haines
Havant promoted to National League
Havant and Waterlooville will join the likes of Chesterfield, Hartlepool United, Leyton Orient and Wrexham in The National League next season after Jason Prior’s 89th minute goal sealed promotion for the Hawks against Concord Rangers.
The Hawks went into the break leading 2-0 courtesy of efforts from Theo Lewis and Matt Tubbs, with the latter scoring from an unusual source. But Concord came out fighting and determined in the second period and with around 10 minutes left in the game it was level at 2-2.
But up stepped Jason Prior in the 89th minute with the ball fed to him in the penalty area, one on one with the kepper he calmy slots the ball home and Westleigh Park went into fever pitch.
At Full-time the traditional pitch invasion took place with players and fans alike celebrating the league title together before the presentation which saw Brian Stock lift the coverted National League South trophy!
The Westleigh would then be buzzing afterwards for the End of Season awards and party with the players, such as Mike Carter and Ryan Woodford, acting as DJ’s for the night showing quality away from the field of play.
Charlton Athletic 1
Pompey’s play-off hopes received a huge blow as they produced a disappointing display to lose to top six rivals Charlton at Fratton Park.
The visitors dominated the first half and took the lead through Nicky Ajose’s cool finish just before the break.
There was an improvement following the interval, though, with Brett Pitman and Connor Ronan going closest to finding the net.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that were beaten at Bradford earlier in the week.
Brandon Haunstrup returned at left-back, with Ronan dropping to the bench, Dion Donohue moving into midfield and Jamal Lowe playing a more advanced role just behind Pitman.
The game began at an extremely high-tempo, as both sets of fans contributed to a pulsating atmosphere in the south coast sunshine.
But there were not any scoring opportunities at either end, with the frantic pace not matched by any real quality.
It was Charlton who settled first, however, and the hosts struggled to make any inroads going forward, too often let down by errant passing.
At least there was plenty of commitment at the back, with Ben Close and Donohue making timely challenges to deny Tariqe Fosu and Josh Magennis.
Then, when a Pompey free-kick broke down, the Addicks broke quickly up field and Jake Forster-Caskey saw his drive deflected wide.
The midfielder went even closer from the resulting corner, only for a well-placed Nathan Thompson to hack the ball clear before it could find the net.
Ben Amos had not been tested between the visitors’ sticks and Lowe ensured that continued by shanking a 30-yard effort well wide.
Pitman was furious moments later when he tried to meet a Kal Naismith delivery, only to have his shirt tugged by former Blues defender Jason Pearce.
It was a clear infringement missed by referee Mark Heywood and his assistants, and the respective skippers squared up before getting a talking to by the official.
Charlton were clearly on top, though, and it was not a huge surprise when they broke the deadlock on 40 minutes.
Thompson failed to cut out Magennis’ header through to Ajose and the striker calmly slid the ball past Luke McGee.
There was almost an equaliser just before, as Matt Clarke bundled his way through a host of red-shirted bodies to meet a Gareth Evans free-kick, but Amos got down to save.
Charlton Athletic 1
Jackett made a double switch at the start of the second half, with Jack Whatmough and Thompson making way for Christian Burgess and Stuart O’Keefe.
And the hosts came close to a leveller within a few minutes, as Pitman turned another Evans free-kick narrowly over the bar.
The skipper then had a tougher chance that he was not quite able to guide on target when Naismith headed a Close set-piece into his path.
Pompey had looked much more positive since the interval and the Fratton faithful responded by turning up the volume.
The Addicks were still posing a threat themselves, however, and when a corner was only partially cleared, Ben Reeves volleyed inches past the post.
When the action switched down the other end, the visiting defence did well to prevent Naismith from converting Evans’ teasing low cross.
Jackett’s final throw of the dice arrived on 66 minutes when Haunstrup made way for Ronan, with Evans dropping deeper.
Pompey were still struggling to create many meaningful openings, though, and the visitors were looking a real threat on the break.
An opportunity did arise when Pitman hung in the air to meet Ronan’s cross, although there was not quite enough power on his header to beat Amos.
Ronan was looking lively and he took a great touch after the visitors could only half clear a corner, opening up space to try a shot that Amos kept out.
And Pitman almost levelled late on, with his bending free-kick palmed over by Amos after O’Keefe had been felled 30 yards out.
A couple of late corners gave the Blues hope of finding a late goal – with McGee going up for the second – but there was to be no late drama.
Pompey (4-4-1-1): McGee; Thompson (O’Keefe 46), Whatmough (Burgess 46), Clarke, Haunstrup (Ronan 66); Evans, Close, Donohue, Naismith; Lowe; Pitman (c)
Booked: Pitman, Evans
Subs not used: Bass, Kennedy, Chaplin, Hawkins
Charlton (4-4-2): Amos; Konsa, Bauer, Pearce (c), Page (Marshall 62); Reeves, Kashi, Forster-Caskey, Fosu (Dasilva 57); Magennis, Ajose (Kaikai 90+2)
Goals: Ajose 40
Booked: Kashi, Dasilva
Subs not used: Phillips, Lennon, Aribo, Zyro
Referee: Mark Heywood
Bradford City 3
Pompey’s unbeaten run finally came to an end as they suffered a 3-1 defeat to Bradford at Valley Parade.
They trailed at the break to Nathaniel Knight-Percival’s strike, only for Brett Pitman to thunder home a leveller after the interval.
But the Blues were unable to build on that and some sloppy defending allowed Matty Lund to restore the Bantams’ lead, with Charlie Wyke adding a third goal in stoppage-time.
It was a disappointing evening with play-off rivals Charlton beating Shrewsbury, although Pompey remain a single point outside the top six.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that drew with Plymouth at the weekend.
Connor Ronan replaced Stuart O’Keefe in the centre of midfield, meaning Ben Close continued in the holding role in front of the back four.
Pompey were slow to get going, although a couple of balls into the box caused problems in the opening stages.
Jack Whatmough’s long throws were providing the biggest threat, however, and when one was flicked on by Kal Naismith, Bradford keeper Colin Doyle had to fumble the ball clear.
But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock on 14 minutes after Alex Gilliead had pressured Dion Donohue into conceding a corner.
It was sent into the box by Tony McMahon and nodded on by Matt Kilgallon for Knight-Percival to lash home at the far post.
There were not an abundance of openings at either end of the pitch in truth, although Matt Clarke headed wide following good work from Jamal Lowe to win a corner.
Pitman thought he should have won a penalty after going down in the box under pressure from Kilgallon, only for referee Andy Woolmer to wave away his protests.
It was a bright spell for the Blues and when Ronan let fly from 25 yards, Doyle dived to his right to palm the ball clear.
Another opportunity arrived after Close had been felled on the edge of the ‘D’, with Pitman placing a clever low free-kick through the wall and Doyle doing well to smother the danger.
The Bantams still had their moments, though, and Knight-Percival could not quite guide the ball on the target from another set-piece.
Pompey had one more chance from a corner deep into stoppage-time, but when Whatmough met Donohue’s cross, the home defence scrambled clear.
Bradford City 1
There was a bright start to the second half, with Gareth Evans slipping a low pass across the box for Lowe. His close-range finish was deflected wide, although the linesman’s flag was raised for offside.
A couple of corners caused problems at the other end, with one punched clear by Luke McGee, while Clarke got down low to head away the second.
Jackett freshened things up with a double switch on 55 minutes, as Ronan and Evans made way for O’Keefe and Oli Hawkins.
That also led to a slight change in formation, as Pitman dropped in behind Hawkins in a 4-2-3-1 system.
And the Blues almost grabbed a leveller soon after, with Lowe cutting the ball back and Close stabbing a shot just past the upright.
But the equaliser did arrive just past the hour mark and there were no prizes for guessing who scored it.
PITMAN continued his prolific scoring spell by collecting a pass from O’Keefe and expertly bending a 25-yard effort past Doyle’s despairing dive and into the net.
The scores were level for just 10 minutes, however, as Bradford retook the lead following a spell of frantic play when the Blues were unable to get the ball clear.
There was a mix-up at the back between Donohue and Clarke, which allowed substitute Lund to bundle through and slot past a helpless McGee.
Jackett made a final throw of the dice by bringing on Conor Chaplin for Naismith to add to the attack on 75 minutes.
There was a lengthy break in play when Tyrell Robinson went down injured for the hosts and was eventually stretchered off the pitch, receiving warm applause from both sets of fans.
A display of nine additional minutes from the fourth official raised the hopes of the large army of travelling Pompey fans behind the goal.
But they were dashed when McGee parried away a free-kick from McMahon and Wyke followed up to score.
Bradford (4-4-2): Doyle; McMahon (c), Knight-Percival, Kilgallon, Warnock; Gilliead, Guy (Vincelot 75), Dieng, Robinson (Poleon 83); Wyke, Bruenker (Lund 64)
Goals: Knight-Percival 14, Lund 71, Wyke 90+5
Subs not used: Raeder, Chicksen, Patrick, McCartan
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Donohue; Close; Lowe, Evans (Hawkins 55), Ronan (O’Keefe 55), Naismith (Chaplin 75); Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 61
Booked: O’Keefe, Pitman
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, May
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Plymouth Argyle 0
Pompey’s unbeaten run continued as they collected a point in a tense – if mostly undramatic – clash with play-off rivals Plymouth.
There was plenty of energy on display at a sunny Home Park, but too often a lack of quality in the final third.
Neither goalkeeper was given too much to do, although the Blues almost snatched the win late on, as Lowe had a shot cleared from the line before the crossbar came to Argyle’s rescue.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that secured a thrilling draw at Rochdale the previous week.
Anton Walkes missed out with a hamstring injury, so Stuart O’Keefe made a return to the starting line-up in midfield.
With Matty Kennedy also carrying a knock, spaces opened up on the bench for both Conor Chaplin and Sylvain Deslandes.
There have been plenty of classic contests between the clubs in recent years, but the first half of the latest encounter was one to forget.
Neither side was able to find any attacking fluency, while both were guilty of giving away possession far too easily.
Pompey did showcase some neat passing football at times, but the final ball into the box was often wasted.
There were long-range attempts at either end of the pitch, not that efforts from Graham Carey or Dion Donohue were ever going to test the respective goalkeepers.
The first decent chance fell the Blues’ way on 31 minutes, with Kyle Letheren called into action to deal with Lowe’s angled drive.
He soon turned provider with a low cross towards Brett Pitman that the skipper could only scuff into Letheren’s arms.
The visitors were looking solid at the opposite end and when Matt Clarke lost the ball, Jack Whatmough and Donohue combined to deny Joel Grant.
There was some drama just before the break when Ruben Lameiras went down in the box under pressure from Whatmough.
But referee Dean Whitestone was not impressed and Pompey’s defender berated the tumbling Pilgrim, feeling he had dived.
Plymouth Argyle 0
The second half was an immediate improvement on the first, with both sides having an early opportunity to break the deadlock.
First up were Pompey, as Lowe cut inside from the right and sent in a low shot that rippled the side netting.
It was more of an opportunistic effort for the hosts, with Carey’s looping strike not quite able to get down in time.
Nathan Thompson then had to stretch to intercept Oscar Threlkeld’s cross before it could reach the unmarked Carey at the far post.
Argyle were starting to look dangerous and it was Carey who also provided the next threat, although his attempt with the outside of the boot arrowed over.
Their top scorer also tried a curling shot from the edge of the box, with the ball flying comfortably into Luke McGee’s arms.
Jackett made his first switch just before the hour mark, as Connor Ronan replaced O’Keefe in the centre of midfield.
It was a period when Pompey were getting pushed further back, although they weathered the storm and started trying to make an impact at the other end.
There was a chance on 73 minutes when Whatmough met a Gareth Evans’ corner and headed towards goal.
Lowe was stood right in front of Letheren, but the Plymouth keeper did well to deal with that distraction and gather the ball.
It was Lowe who needed to grow an extra couple of inches late on, as he tried to convert Evans’ cross.
And Whatmough was also unable to guide the ball on target when he stooped to meet Donohue’s corner.
The game suddenly came alive in the dying seconds and Pompey had two great opportunities to claim the victory.
Firstly, Lowe ran across the centre of the box and tried to slot the ball into the net, only for Zak Vyner to clear from the line.
Threlkeld then headed a cross against his own bar, as Plymouth held on to ensure the points would be shared.
Plymouth (4-3-3): Letheren; Threlkeld, Vyner, Bradley, Sawyer (c) (Taylor-Sinclair 72); Makasi, Fox, Ness; Carey, Grant, Lameiras (Fletcher 89)
Subs not used: Cooper, Miller, Songo’o, Paton, Sangster
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Donohue; Close; Lowe, Evans, O’Keefe (Ronan 58), Naismith; Pitman (c)
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, Deslandes, Chaplin, Hawkins
Referee: Dean Whitestone
A last-gasp own-goal saw Pompey continue their unbeaten run with a thrilling 3-3 draw against Rochdale at Spotland.
They showed their fighting spirit by battling back to level on three separate occasions, as the prolific Brett Pitman cancelled out efforts from Bran Inman and Stephen Humphrys.
Ian Henderson scrambled home what seemed to be a Dale winner, only for Matt Done to find his own net deep into stoppage-time.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that beat Wigan on home soil on Easter Monday.
Dion Donohue missed that game to attend the birth of his son, but returned at left-back, with Brandon Haunstrup dropping to the bench.
There was a minute of applause before kick-off to remember former England international Ray Wilkins, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.
The hosts might have been sitting inside the drop zone, but had won each of their past two games and made a bright start.
A hooked effort from Humphrys was deflected wide, while several crosses into the box caused Pompey problems in the opening stages.
But the Blues could have broken the deadlock when Gareth Evans picked out Pitman, only for the unmarked skipper to guide the ball over.
Instead it was Dale who scored on 13 minutes, as Inman bent a shot into the bottom corner from the edge of the area.
They thought they had another when Joe Rafferty flicked on Inman’s corner and Ian Henderson bundled the ball over the line, only to be flagged offside.
And Pompey made the most of that let-off by levelling midway through the first half, thanks to some great work from Pitman and Jamal Lowe.
The skipper held the ball up well in the centre of the pitch before releasing Lowe, who showed lightning pace to surge into the box.
He slipped at a pivotal moment, only to recover well and square for PITMAN to lash home his 20th league goal of the campaign.
The Blues then came close to forging ahead, courtesy of a thunderbolt from Evans that crashed against the crossbar.
It was Rochdale that finished the half on top, however, and Luke McGee was twice called into action to deny Rafferty and Humphrys, while Oliver Rathbone saw a shot deflected past the post.
But there was one more chance for the visitors before the break, with Pitman diverting an Evans centre over the top.
Rochdale were quicker from the blocks once the action restarted and Matt Clarke was well-placed to head clear a couple of dangerous deliveries.
But it took another fine finish for the hosts to retake the lead, as Humphrys collected Done’s pass and arrowed the ball past McGee’s grasp.
Jackett responded with a double switch on the hour mark, withdrawing Nathan Thompson and Kal Naismith for Matty Kennedy and Stuart O’Keefe.
And his side were level moments later when Donohue clipped in a free-kick that was only partially dealt with.
The ball was headed back into the danger zone by Clarke, where PITMAN was waiting to slot home again.
But the action soon switched back to the other end of the pitch and an Inman effort took a deflection to send the ball just over the bar.
Rochdale were back ahead on 71 minutes, though, when Calvin Andrew nodded Inman’s delivery across goal and Henderson bundled the ball over the line.
Jackett soon made his third and final change, with Oli Hawkins adding more firepower in place of Evans.
There was a nervy moment for the hosts when Josh Lillis failed to claim a high ball, but they were eventually able to scramble clear.
Hawkins did well to shake off having his shirt tugged and get a shot away late on, although the attempt failed to trouble Lillis.
The visitors tried to get the ball forward and four minutes of stoppage-time gave them hope of finding an equaliser.
And it arrived when Jack Whatmough’s centre was nodded towards goal by Pitman, with DONE only able to head the ball into his own net from a couple of yards out.
Rochdale (4-1-4-1): Lillis; Rafferty, McGahey, McNulty, Done; Camps; Andrew, Rathbone, Henderson (c), Inman (Delaney 80); Humphrys (Thompson 74)
Goals: Inman 13, Humphrys 57, Henderson 71
Subs not used: Moore, Wiseman, Ntlhe, Dobre, Davies
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Thompson (Kennedy 60), Whatmough, Clarke, Donohue; Walkes; Lowe, Evans (Hawkins 72), Close, Naismith (O’Keefe 60); Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 26, 62, Done 90+2 (og)
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, Ronan
Referee: Scott Oldham
Wigan Athletic 1
Pompey’s fine run of form continued with a convincing victory over title-chasing Wigan at Fratton Park.
It was the second home game in succession that the Blues impressed in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Brett Pitman maintained his own prolific run with a penalty before the break, while Jamal Lowe doubled the advantage on a damp Easter Monday.
Will Grigg came off the bench to pull once back for the Latics late on, but Pompey held on to maintain their play-off hopes.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that won at Walsall just a couple of days earlier.
With Dion Donohue’s partner about to give birth, he was replaced at left-back by Brandon Haunstrup.
It was a first return to Fratton Park for title-winning manager Paul Cook and his assistant Leam Richardson.
But Gary Roberts had to be content with a place on the bench against his former club, while Noel Hunt was in the press box on radio punditry duties.
It was the hosts who had the first chance when Gareth Evans delivered a low cross that Chey Dunkley just about got to before Pitman.
But the Latics – as expected – controlled possession and a few niggly challenges from Pompey ensured the contest became a scrappy affair.
Max Power saw a shot deflected narrowly past the post after possession had been stolen, as Wigan looked to make the pressure count.
It was certainly not one-way traffic, though, and when the atmosphere started to go up a few notches, the players responded.
Pitman managed to send a dangerous low cross into the box from the right and Lowe slid in at the near post, but could not quite make a connection.
Both sides earned a yellow card midway through the first half, with Callum Elder cautioned for a foul on Lowe and Nathan Thompson booked for upending Nick Powell.
Michael Jacobs thought he should have been awarded a penalty on 28 minutes after going down under pressure from Thompson, only to see his appeals waved away by Tim Robinson.
The referee – after being alerted by the fourth official – then had to go over to speak to Cook about his protestations, with the Latics boss given a stern ticking off.
Powell sent a free-kick into the wall, while James Vaughan dragged a shot wide following good work by Max Power.
But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 40 minutes after Dan Burn had clumsily brought down Ben Close in the box.
PITMAN stepped up to take the penalty, sending Christian Walton the wrong way as he buried the ball into the bottom left corner.
He almost had another before the break when Elder made a hash out of clearing, but Walton came to the defender’s rescue.
There was still time for Wigan to have a chance to level, though, and it took a fine diving header from Jack Whatmough to stop Powell meeting Nathan Byrne’s cross.
Wigan Athletic 0
It was a fairly quiet start to the second half, with Powell hitting another free-kick into the wall, while Kal Naismith’s long-range effort was comfortably dealt with at the other end.
But LOWE certainly got Fratton Park rocking again on 55 minutes when he doubled Pompey’s advantage.
The forward collected a low cross from Thompson, turned sharply and sent the ball past Walton’s grasp and into the bottom corner.
That was the cue for the heavens to open, although it failed to dampen the spirits of the crowd – even if some in the front row did make a dash for shelter.
Wigan had an opportunity when a free-kick was only partially cleared, but Sam Morsy hit the loose ball high into the Fratton End.
Cook made a double switch as he tried to find a route back into the game, with the dangerous Grigg joining Ryan Colclough on the pitch.
But it was Powell who almost reduced the deficit on 69 minutes, only for Luke McGee to brilliantly divert the ball against the crossbar.
There were a few nerves creeping in – on and off the pitch – and the game descended into a scrappy affair once more, with cheap fouls conceded by both sides.
McGee was still looking assured, though, and made a super stop to keep out Grigg’s cleanly-struck volley from a Jacobs centre.
Roberts was brought on as Cook made one last throw of the dice, with the midfielder given warm applause by the Fratton faithful.
Pompey were beginning to tire, but failed to let their efforts falter, with a host of brave challenges and strong headers.
It looked like they would comfortably see the game out, but the nerves returned when Grigg nodded home a Roberts cross.
The Blues saw out five minutes of stoppage-time, however, to secure a memorable victory and spoil Cook’s south coast return.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup; Walkes; Lowe, Evans, Close, Naismith; Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 40 (pen), Lowe 55
Booked: Thompson, Walkes, Naismith
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, O’Keefe, Ronan, Kennedy, Chaplin, Hawkins
Wigan (4-2-3-1): Walton; Byrne, Dunkley, Burn, Elder; Power, Morsy (c); Massey (Grigg 66), Powell, Jacobs (Roberts 81); Vaughan (Colclough 66)
Goals: Grigg 89
Booked: Elder, Walton
Subs not used: Jones, Bruce, Perkins, Walker
Referee: Tim Robinson
Gareth Evans found the target as a dominant Pompey won at Walsall to keep alive their play-off hopes.
The Blues took charge following a scrappy first half, although it seemed as though they would not be able to find a way past the struggling Saddlers.
But their patience was rewarded 11 minutes of time when Evans stroked home to seal a third successive victory.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that beat Oxford on home soil the previous week.
Evans returned to the starting line-up in place of Connor Ronan, while the fit-again pair of Stuart O’Keefe and Oli Hawkins were both named on the bench.
There was a slight reshuffle, however, as Nathan Thompson switched to right-back, with Anton Walkes handed the holding midfield role.
With every other League One match played the previous day, there was no-one else to take the attention away from Pompey and Walsall.
Unfortunately, the first half failed to make the most of the spotlight, with no clear-cut opportunities arriving at either end of the pitch.
There were half-chances peppered throughout, though, with most of them falling the way of the visitors.
Jamal Lowe saw an early effort blocked, while Dion Donohue and Luke McGee both acted quickly to beat opposition players to the ball.
Brett Pitman did well to get a shot away after a Naismith flick, although there was not enough pace behind it to trouble Liam Roberts in the Saddlers goal.
Arguably the best Blues chance arrived on 12 minutes when Ben Close made a clean connection with Evans’ delivery, only to send the ball straight at Roberts.
A couple more Pompey chances went off target as the half progressed, as Jack Whatmough was unable to make the most of space afforded to him at the far post.
Pitman then met another Evans cross with a deft header – although it was slightly too deft and the ball flashed past the post.
Close also fired into the side netting, while Kieron Morris dragged wide in a rare opening at the other end.
But the biggest reaction from the stands came when Nicky Devlin was booked for a foul on Naismith, with some irate home supporters believing it was a soft decision.
It was Pompey who looked the more attack-minded side once the second half resumed and they launched several quick forays forward.
One of them led to a chance for Donohue, whose thunderous effort from the left side of the box narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Naismith – still getting booed for having the temerity to be fouled earlier – was next to go close and his shot took a slight deflection to divert the ball wide.
It was the visitors on top and Roberts had to grab Pitman’s looping header underneath his own bar after the skipper had met Close’s cross.
The lively Naismith was then afforded space to surge forward on 65 minutes and drive the ball just wide.
He then turned provider, sending in a teasing low cross that a lunging Pitman was agonisingly unable to reach at the far post.
But Walsall appeared to have weathered the storm and soon had their own chance to break the deadlock.
Luke Leahy sent in a teasing delivery from wide on the left and Amadou Bakayoko came charging in to meet it, but could not keep his shot down.
But the Blues almost scored themselves when Jamal Lowe was brought down and Pitman’s free-kick had to be turned over by Roberts.
A goal did arrive on 79 minutes, however, as the visitors finally made their second half dominance count.
Lowe laid the ball into the path of EVANS on the edge of the box and he hit a sweet first-time shot past Roberts’ grasp and into the net.
Walsall tried to find a way back into the contest, but the Pompey saw out the closing stages with relative ease to ensure a fine opening to their Easter double-bill.
Walsall (4-2-3-1): Roberts; Devlin, Fitzwater, Guthrie, Leahy; Cuvelier (Dobson 72), Chambers (c); Morris, Oztumer (Shaibu 84), Ngoy (Kouhyar 67); Bakayoko
Booked: Devlin, Bakayoko, Guthrie, Morris
Subs not used: Gillespie, Roberts, Kinsella, Flanagan
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Donohue; Walkes; Lowe, Evans, Close (Ronan 77), Naismith; Pitman (c)
Goals: Evans 79
Booked: Donohue, Walkes
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, O’Keefe, Kennedy, Hawkins
Referee: Darren Handley
Oxford United 0
Pompey made a mockery of their poor Fratton form in 2018 with a resounding victory over Oxford.
Kal Naismith grabbed an early opener, although the visitors responded well and it looked as though there might be a nervy finale.
That all changed when Alex Mowatt saw his penalty saved and was promptly sent off for lashing out at Nathan Thompson.
There was only going to be one winner from that point and Brett Pitman twice capitalised on good work from Jamal Lowe to wrap things up.
There was a single change from the side that won away at snowy Oldham the previous week.
Thompson came straight back into the starting line-up after returning from a four-match ban, with Brandon Haunstrup dropping to the bench.
A fit-again Gareth Evans – who had missed the same number of games with a hamstring injury – had to be content with a place among the substitutes.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the visitors’ line-up, with former Pompey players Simon Eastwood and Wes Thomas both featuring.
The hosts made a bright start and the fans inside Fratton Park – as well as those watching on Sky Sports – had a goal to celebrate in just the fifth minute.
Connor Ronan sent a corner into the box and Matt Clarke nodded it back into the centre, where NAISMITH was waiting to hook home from close range.
He might have had a second after getting down well to meet another Ronan delivery with a diving header that flashed wide.
Oxford were all over the place and Ryan Ledson collected an early booking following a late challenge on the energetic Ronan.
Eastwood then grabbed Dion Donohue’s free-kick before Naismith could make a connection, while a cross from the Scottish forward had to be turned past his own post by Ashley Smith-Brown.
But United improved as the half progressed and James Henry turned sharply on the edge of the box before crashing a shot against the bar.
The Blues soon had a chance at the other end, with Lowe’s centre agonisingly out of reach for Pitman, as the skipper slid in at the far post.
Pitman was then brought down by Rob Dickie as he burst through on goal. The Fratton faithful were baying for a red card, but referee Charles Breakspear instead brandished a yellow.
It was Oxford who dominated as the interval approached, though, and Malachi Napa’s effort was diverted wide by Luke McGee’s fingertips.
Then, from the resulting corner, a well-placed Pitman had to hack Dickie’s goal-bound header from the line.
And the United defender should have done better just before the break, rising at the far post to meet a corner, only to send the ball wide from just a few yards out.
Oxford United 0
Oxford were still on top in the early stages of the second half, with Jack Whatmough doing well to deal with Todd Kane’s dangerous cross.
And the hosts made a change after just 51 minutes, with Evans making a welcome return to action in place of Ronan.
Pompey were struggling to keep hold of the ball and United were growing in confidence as they pushed forward, without forcing McGee into too much action.
And it looked as though the visitors would draw level just past the hour mark – only to miss a penalty and then be reduced to 10 men.
Clarke was penalised for a tug on Dickie inside the box, with Mowatt sending the spot-kick cannoning against the post.
The Oxford forward immediately clashed with Thompson, lashing out to send the Blues player tumbling to the turf.
That sparked a melee, involving plenty of pushing and shoving. When it all calmed down, Breakspear booked McGee for his reaction, before dismissing Mowatt.
It did not take long for the hosts to make the most of their numerical advantage, with the lead doubled on 69 minutes.
The delivery from Lowe on the right was superb and PITMAN was there to lash the ball into the roof of the net from a few yards out.
Pompey were, unsurprisingly, completely on top, with Evans seeing a shot blocked as home players started to fancy seeing their name on the scoresheet.
Instead it was the familiar figure of PITMAN who extended the advantage – with Lowe again playing a key role.
He raced onto a Thompson pass and rounded Eastwood with ease, only to be forced wide.
But the winger maintained his composure and squared for the Blues’ top scorer to stab into the net and complete an enoyable afternoon.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Donohue; Thompson (May 87); Lowe, Close, Ronan (Evans 51), Naismith; Pitman (c)
Goals: Naismith 5, Pitman 69, 79
Booked: Thompson, Naismith, McGee
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, Kennedy, Chaplin
Oxford (4-1-2-1-2): Eastwood; Kane, Dickie, Mousinho (c), Smith-Brown (Ricardinho 77); Brannagan; Ledson, Mowatt; Henry (Mehmeti 77); Napa (Rothwell 66), Thomas
Sent off: Mowatt
Booked: Ledson, Dickie, Brannagan
Subs not used: Shearer, Martin, Ashby, Ruffels
Referee: Charles Breakspear
Oldham Athletic 0
Brett Pitman bagged a brace on his comeback, as Pompey returned to winning ways at Oldham.
The striker headed home the opener before taking advantage of some comical goalkeeping from Johny Placide to double the advantage.
With snow falling throughout the game, there were fears that it might be abandoned when play was stopped during the second half.
But it started up again and the Blues saw out the closing stages with relative ease, claiming a clean sheet to complement their three-point haul.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side beaten at home by Gillingham the previous week.
Pitman returned from a three-game injury absence to skipper the side, while Brandon Haunstrup also started, as Christian Burgess and Sylvain Deslandes dropped to the bench.
The snow had been falling heavily before kick-off, but bright sunshine had taken over as the sides emerged from the tunnel.
It would not be the end of the white stuff, however, with plenty more flurries following throughout the afternoon.
There were not an abundance of chances in the opening stages, although both sides looked to get forward whenever possible.
Anton Walkes’ failure to deal with a Cameron Dummigan delivery caused a few butterflies, but the right-back recovered well to clear the danger.
Placide was also giving the home support reason to be nervous, with the keeper dallying in possession on several occasions.
One instance saw Connor Ronan tackle him, only for the ball to land clear and let the maverick stopper off the hook.
A quick break presented Oldham with their best chance of the half, only for former Fratton loanee Eoin Doyle to stab his shot straight at Luke McGee.
Jamal Lowe soon had an opportunity at the other end, bursting between two defenders and seeing an effort deflected wide.
And they went even closer soon after, with Matt Clarke sending Dion Donohue’s corner into the mixer, where Jack Whatmough’s header was cleared from the line by Wilfried Moimbe.
But the deadlock was broken on 29 minutes, as PITMAN rose to meet Ronan’s cross and send a deft header past Placide and into the net.
Pompey’s skipper was also proving useful at the other end of the pitch, getting back to nod clear a corner.
The hardy travelling support were then given more reason to cheer when the Blues doubled their advantage before the break.
Placide had failed to learn the error of his ways, with PITMAN stealing the ball from his feet and slotting home from an acute angle.
Oldham Athletic 0
The Latics were given an opportunity to get back into the contest straight after the restart, when Clarke was booked for a foul on Craig Davies.
Kean Bryan took the free-kick from just outside the Blues box and although his effort went through the wall, it was straight into the arms of McGee.
It was becoming to difficult to spot Pompey’s white-shirted players, as the snow fell more heavily – and began to lay.
There would have been a few worried fans in the Zen Office Stand when referee Sebastian Stockbridge called a halt to proceedings.
“Off, off, off,” cried the Oldham supporters, perhaps in hope more than expectation and – following an eight-minute delay while the lines were cleared – the action resumed.
Doyle then had a couple of shots saved by McGee as the hosts tried to find a route back into the contest.
The second was closest to finding the net, with Pompey’s keeper just about getting his fingertips to it and diverting the ball over.
And McGee also dealt with a low drive from substitute Duckens Nazon, as time started to run out for Oldham.
But the Blues almost wrapped things up on 85 minutes when Pitman teed-up Kal Naismith, only for Placide to put the forward off, with Dummigan hacking the ball clear.
The earlier delay meant 11 minutes of stoppage-time were displayed by fourth official Ken Haycock, giving hope to the home support.
But it was Pompey who almost added to the scoring when Lowe cut inside from the right and drilled a low shot against the inside of the post.
Oldham (4-4-2): Placide; Dummigan, Wilson, Bryan, Moimbe (Nazon 80); Byrne, Fane, Gardner, McLaughlin (McEleney 55); Davies (c) (Amadi-Holloway 59), Doyle
Subs not used: de la Paz, Hunt, Edmundson, Pringle
Pompey (4-1-4-1): McGee; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup; Close; Lowe, Donohue, Ronan, Naismith; Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 29, 42
Booked: Clarke, Pitman, Donohue
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Deslandes, Widdrington, May, Kennedy, Chaplin
Referee: Sebastian Stockbridge