|Portsmouth||1 – 1||Plymouth Argyle|
Roberts on target in Fratton stalemate
It finished all square at Fratton Park, as Pompey came from behind to secure a point in an Easter showdown with Plymouth.
They fell behind to Jake Jervis’ header, but then proceeded to dominate for most of the contest.
And the pressure paid off after the break when Gary Roberts capitalised on some uncertainty at the back to equalise.
It was the Blues who looked most likely to get a winner, but they could not find another path through to goal.
Paul Cook chose not to change the side that beat Yeovil on home soil the previous week.
There were three former Pompey players in the opposition line-up, with Sonny Bradley, Ryan Taylor and Jervis all starting.
And it was the visitors who were first to threaten when David Fox fired in a shot that was well blocked by Matt Clarke.
Carl Baker was then denied at the other end, as Bradley came charging across to make a tackle, injuring himself in the process.
The Blues forced Luke McCormick into action on 11 minutes, with the keeper showing good reactions to keep out Gareth Evans’ swerving shot.
But Argyle broke the deadlock just seconds later when Jervis met Gary Sawyer’s cross and firmly headed home at the far post.
Pompey were guilty of trying to rush things and it was only when they slowed things down and kept possession that they started to look dangerous.
The Pilgrims, however, were determined to keep hold of their lead and got plenty of men behind the ball to frustrate their hosts.
But they were indebted to McCormick on 33 minutes, with the skipper spilling Kal Naismith’s curler, only to quickly recover and stop Roberts from sliding in the loose ball.
Plymouth were still looking dangerous on the break, though, and Matty Kennedy fired into the side netting after skipping past a couple of challenges.
However, most of the action was happening at the other end of the pitch and Naismith saw a free-kick deflected narrowly over late in the half.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Plymouth 1
Pompey continued to show plenty of attacking intent after the interval and Naismith’s cleanly-struck effort forced McCormick into action.
A shot from Kyle Bennett then deflected off Yann Songo’o and flew narrowly wide, while a Naismith effort was also diverted past the post.
Plymouth were throwing themselves in front of everything and some brave defending was paying dividends.
But they contributed to the equalising goal on 57 minutes, as Pompey’s persistence finally paid off.
Baker slipped a fine pass through to Bennett and his delivery caused confusion between McCormick and Songo’o, allowing ROBERTS to nip in and score.
Pompey continued to push and an incisive passing move ended in Naismith winning a corner, from which Baker drilled wide.
Roberts became the first Blues player to be withdrawn on 67 minutes, with Conor Chaplin on to replace him.
And it was still Pompey looking the more adventurous going forward, as their opponents searched for chances on the break.
Jamal Lowe added some fresh impetus into the hosts’ attack when he was brought on for Baker on the right.
But it was Chaplin who had a great chance to give the Blues a lead on 86 minutes, only to head wide when Naismith chipped the ball up to him in the box.
Bennett then fired a free-kick narrowly over deep into stoppage-time, as Pompey had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 78), Roberts (Chaplin 67), Bennett; Naismith
Goals: Roberts 57
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi, Kabamba
Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick (c); Threlkeld, Songo’o, Bradley (Sokolik 46), Sawyer; Sarcevic, Fox; Jervis (Smith 68), Carey, Kennedy (Tanner 81); Taylor
Goals: Jervis 12
Booked: Sarcevic, Threlkeld
Subs not used: Dorel, Miller, Donaldson, Garita
Referee: Christopher Sarginson
Attendance: 18,625 (2,644 away fans)
|Portsmouth||3 – 1||Yeovil Town|
Evans, Naismith and Lowe on target
Pompey strengthened their grasp on automatic promotion with a 3-1 victory over Yeovil.
Gareth Evans opened the scoring from the spot, as the Blues finally managed to break their penalty curse.
But an unfortunate own-goal drew the Glovers level after the break and threatened to spoil the party.
Top scorer Kal Naismith restored the advantage, however, and Jamal Lowe came off the bench to net his first goal for the club.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that won at Hartlepool the previous week.
Lowe dropped to the bench to make way for a fit-again Carl Baker, while Gary Roberts replaced the injured Noel Hunt.
That meant Naismith was employed as a makeshift striker – a role he performed so effectively in the second half at Victoria Park.
Pompey made a bright start in the south coast sunshine and Bevis Mugabi had to be alert to beat Roberts to Evans’ cross.
But it was Yeovil who should have forged ahead moments later, with an unmarked Tom Eaves sending Kevin Dawson’s cross over the bar.
It was generally the hosts looking more threatening, however, and a dangerous low Roberts centre had to be cleared behind by Alex Lacey.
Then, from the resulting corner, Matt Clarke rose highest to meet the ball, only for Liam Shephard to clear from the line.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on 15 minutes – and finally bring an end to their penalty hoodoo.
Roberts did well to nip in and steal the ball from the dithering Mugabi, drawing a clumsy challenge from the centre-back.
Referee Graham Horwood immediately pointed to the spot and EVANS coolly steered his shot into the bottom corner.
They kept pushing forward and Artur Krysiak denied Naismith before Roberts’ cross hit the hapless Mugabi and ricocheted against the inside of the post.
Pompey continued to send some dangerous deliveries into the box that caused the Glovers defence problems.
There was also one at the other end, however, and Mugabi should at least have turned Matty Dolan’s corner on target from just a few yards out.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Yeovil 0
Pompey were keen to build on their narrow advantage once the second half got underway, with Naismith and Kyle Bennett proving a nuisance down the left.
Roberts then found Naismith in the box and a glancing header from the hosts’ top scorer was superbly palmed clear by Krysiak.
Instead, the Glovers drew level in bizarre circumstances on 51 minutes. Francois Zoko, Clarke and Stevens were all competing for the ball and the latter two conspired to inadvertently lob it into their own net.
That was the signal for the Blues to camp out in their opponents’ half, with the visitors having to deal with several corners.
Evans and Bennett also had shots blocked, as Pompey – backed by a noisy crowd – tried to restore their advantage.
Stevens then tried to catch Krysiak out at his near post with a low drive, as the Glovers struggled to contain their hosts.
Cook made his first change on 67 minutes, as Conor Chaplin replaced Roberts to give the strikeforce a more conventional look.
But it was the stand-in who fired the Blues back into the lead just seconds later, as Stevens teed-up NAISMITH and Krysiak could not get a strong enough hand to the Scotsman’s shot.
Yeovil boss Darren Way quickly brought on Otis Khan and his effort flew narrowly over the bar, rippling the top of the net in the process.
Baker then made way for Lowe and within two minutes of his introduction, the January signing opened his account for the club.
It was a decent individual effort from LOWE, who bundled his way past a challenge before finding the net from the tightest of angles.
That ensured Pompey could see the game out relatively free of nerves and take another stride towards a place in League One.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 76), Roberts (Chaplin 67), Bennett; Naismith (Kabamba 90)
Goals: Evans 15 (pen), Naismith 68, Lowe 78
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi
Yeovil (3-4-3): Krysiak; Mugabi (Smith 57), Lacey, Butcher; Shephard, Dawson (c), Dolan, James; Goodship (Khan 70), Zoko, Eaves (Akpa Akpro 50)
Goals: Stevens 51 (og)
Subs not used: Maddison, Sowunmi, Lawless, Jones
Referee: Graham Horwood
Attendance: 17,564 (443 away fans)
|Hartlepool United||0 – 2||Portsmouth|
Naismith and Roberts on target
Pompey moved another step closer to promotion with a 2-0 victory at Hartlepool.
A goal in either half from Kal Naismith and Gary Roberts ensured the Blues registered a fifth win from their past six games.
There were chances at either end of the pitch in an entertaining contest in the north-east, with both sides striking the woodwork.
Paul Cook made three changes from the side that beat Newport on home soil the previous week.
Christian Burgess returned from a one-match to replace Tom Davies at the heart of defence.
And with the injured duo of Carl Baker (hamstring) and Eoin Doyle (groin) both missing, there were returns for Jamal Lowe and Noel Hunt.
There was a breathless start to proceedings, with the ball quickly switching from one end of the pitch to the other.
It was the visitors who were first to threaten with a Naismith corner that was not properly dealt with, forcing Joe Fryer to leave his line and punch clear.
But Hartlepool then broke quickly following another Pompey set-piece, only for Lewis Alessandra’s surging run to eventually break down.
The ball soon found its way out to Liam Donnelly on the right and his cross was glanced wide by Nathan Thomas.
And the action then switched to the opposite end, as Kyle Bennett saw his effort blocked before Naismith dived to meet Enda Stevens’ delivery and send the ball flying narrowly past the post.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on 17 minutes when Stevens found NAISMITH in acres of space to send a smart volley into the back of the net.
The advantage might have been doubled soon after, but a sliding Hunt could not quite reach Gareth Evans’ low cross.
Hunt then tried a snap-shot from the edge of the box, although the ball flew comfortably into Fryer’s arms.
It was the hosts who soon began to dominate possession as they searched for an equaliser without being able to test David Forde.
There were a few shots blocked by the Blues back-line, but Hartlepool were largely guilty of looking for the perfect final pass instead of trying their luck.
The display of one additional minute for stoppages seemed to signal an incident-free end to the first half.
But the players remained on the pitch for a lot longer, with Hunt landing awkwardly after challenging for the ball.
He was treated on the pitch before eventually being stretched down the tunnel and replaced by Roberts.
Half Time: Hartlepool 0 Pompey 1
Naismith was now leading the line for Pompey, but it was still Hartlepool looking the most likely side to score.
And, shortly after Forde had commandingly punched clear a cross, they had their best chance yet to draw level.
It was a cleanly-struck effort from Thomas that curled around the keeper’s grasp and cannoned back off the post, with Rhys Oates’ follow-up blocked by Matt Clarke.
But Roberts then missed a great opportunity to double the Blues’ advantage, diving to meet Stevens’ cross, but sending the ball over from close range.
The substitute made up for that miss, however, by finding the target on the hour mark and sparking wild scenes of celebration in the away end.
Naismith was the provider, staying calm when his initial effort was cut out and unselfishly slipping a pass through to ROBERTS, who slammed the ball into the roof of the net from a few yards out.
And Naismith almost had another goal of his own soon after, surging forward and sending a low shot against the base of the post.
Conor Chaplin replaced Lowe for the closing stages, as Cook decided to reintroduce a more traditional striker.
There was even a late cameo for Nicke Kabamba, as Pompey saw out the final few moments with ease to secure the points.
Hartlepool (4-1-4-1): Fryer; Donnelly (Magnay 90+2), Walker, Harrison, Deverdics; Featherstone (c); Oates (Rodney 75), Woods, Alessandra, Thomas; Amond
Subs not used: Dudzinski, Bates, Hawkins, Richardson, Rooney
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Chaplin 80), Naismith (Kabamba 90), Bennett; Hunt (Roberts 45+5)
Goals: Naismith 17, Roberts 60
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi
Referee: Mark Brown
Attendance: 4,500 (977 Pompey fans)
A bit late putting this out there but on the 20th March the first rumours of a proposed takeover at Portsmouth surfaced. The following statement was issued by the PST.
The PST board are aware that an article in ‘The News’ today will create significant interest.
A club such as OURS, with its incredible fan base, is bound to attract interest from possible buyers, and it is our duty to listen to any serious and credible offer for the football club.
If there is a serious and credible offer, our shareholders will decide the outcome.
The 3 PST Directors of Portsmouth Community Football Club will be fully involved in discussions. We understand how much owning your club means and retaining an ownership stake will be central to any discussions we enter in to.
We are in the process of finding a date for a shareholders meeting which will give you an opportunity to hear more information on any prospective bid to purchase the club, and a full opportunity to air your views.
A date for this meeting will be communicated in due course.
Later this was followed up by an official statement from Portmouth Football Club
Since the club’s exit from administration in 2013, the board of directors and staff have worked tirelessly to restore our fans’ faith in the club and – as club custodians – have continually striven to improve both on and off-field performance.
A cornerstone of this work has been our openness and transparency with shareholders and supporters alike, while at the same time also respecting the confidentiality and commercial sensitivity of business agreements and contracts.
We would like to assure all shareholders and supporters that we have a robust process in place to deal with any potential offers of investment.
If we reach a point where such an offer of investment into the club is made, then ultimately it will be for all our shareholders – of which the PST is the single largest – to decide whether such new investment would be in the club’s best interest.
We believe this to be the true definition of a fan-owned club, allowing those supporters who have invested to have the final say on the future direction of the club.
We will make no further comment at this stage and assure all fans that, as always, we continue to work in the best interests of Portsmouth Football Club.
Which basically told us nothing.
Many an article has surfaced since then relating to Mr Michael Eisner and he appears on the surface to be the real deal. Unlike previous potential owners who have had many skeletons in their closets this guy seems whiter than white having been CEO of both Disney and Paramount during his career. The man is also insanely rich. The stories soon moved beyond rumours to facts including three tweets from Mr Eisner himself relating to the club.
It remains to be seen whether a deal will be done but in my opinion the club needs it to progress. The “fan owned” idea is great and can only take us so far. Some believe we can stay fan owned and make the Premier League, I believe that is impossible and an opinion backed up by most realists and those with proper knowledge of the club. Attendances of 16000+ give us a good basis but with no outside income it limits us to mid-table League One. In addition Fratton Park is falling down and there is a real possibility of parts of it closing in years to come.
My small share stake will give me a vote, my understanding is that 75% of the vote is required to allow a sale to go through, the PST hold a stake of approx 48% which gived them the power of veto.
On March 23rd the Club issued the following statement announcing a period of “exclusivity” meaning we will not negotiate a sale with anyone else in the meantime.
Portsmouth Community Football Club would like to advise all shareholders and supporters that it has entered into an Exclusivity Agreement with Michael D. Eisner and his Tornante Group to allow for a period of discussions and negotiations to take place regarding a possible purchase of the club.
The agreement is simply to ensure that during this period, which will be 70 days, the club will not engage in discussions with any other potential bidder and is standard practice in these situations.
We thought it best to explain this in a Q&A format, that we hope our fans will find useful:
Q: Is this a done deal then?
A: No, it is not. Put simply, this now enables the club to exclusively enter into a period of negotiation and due diligence with Mr Eisner and his Tornante Group to establish the detailed terms he proposes.
Q: Due diligence – what does that entail?
A: Mr Eisner and Tornante will be reviewing our business and financial information, and equally we will be checking out their own respective financial and business credentials.
Q: What form will the negotiations take?
A: The Board and Mr Eisner will look to negotiate the terms of what would effectively be the best and final offer they wish to make for the club; at which point we will advise all shareholders – both Presidents and those with the PST – on the terms of the offer. Shareholders will then be asked by the club and the PST to vote to either accept or reject the offer.
Q: Who will be leading the negotiations?
A: The Board have retained Trevor Birch to advise them during the negotiating process and he will liaise with all of the stakeholders in the club. Trevor is a managing director of global corporate advisory firm Duff and Phelps, and has unique experience of dealing not only with potential investors at a variety of clubs, but also possesses an insight specifically into PCFC, its community ethos and intricacies of the current fan ownership model.
Q: Will there be an opportunity for Mr Eisner to explain in person his vision and plans for the club’s future to shareholders?
A: Yes, the intention would be for Mr Eisner to explain his future strategy and plans for the club to all shareholders.
As all our supporters are aware, on the pitch we now enter the final, crucial phase of the season.
We can assure all fans that in the background we will now discreetly and privately engage in this next stage of discussions, while our focus will remain on supporting the football staff and players until the end of the season.
The next few weeks will probably be rife with rumours and opinions (often stated as facts) but little will be made public.
Here’s hoping for the best!
|Portsmouth||2 – 1||Newport County|
Bennett and Naismith on target at Fratton Park
Pompey got their promotion charge back on track as they returned to winning ways against struggling Newport.
Kyle Bennett opened the scoring late in the first half before Kal Naismith headed in a second after the interval.
It appeared that the Blues were cruising towards three points, but Alex Samuel netted for the visitors to ensure a nervy finale.
Paul Cook – in his 100th match in charge – made two changes from the side beaten at Stevenage the previous week.
Bennett and Naismith had both recovered from injury to take their place in the starting 11, with Noel Hunt dropping to the bench and Christian Burgess serving a one-match ban.
There was a minute’s silence before kick-off in tribute to those affected by the recent attack in London.
Pompey soon started to dominate once the action got underway, but struggled to create too many clear-cut chances.
The best ones fell to Eoin Doyle, but twice he just failed to get on the end of teasing deliveries from Naismith.
And the on-loan Irishman was then unable to beat County keeper Joe Day from an acute angle after being slipped through by Carl Baker.
But the striker was forced off midway through the first half after picking up an injury and replaced by Conor Chaplin.
There had not been much for David Forde to worry about and when former Blues striker Ryan Bird cut the ball across the face of goal, Tom Davies and Michael Doyle combined to scramble it clear.
But it was still Pompey causing the most problems, even if Day was not exactly being over-worked between the sticks.
Bennett and Matt Clarke both had shots charged down, while a number of corners were comfortably dealt with.
The Blues did break the deadlock just before the break, however, and it was a goal that was extremely easy on the eye.
Baker intercepted the ball from Bird and slipped a superb pass through the Newport defence for BENNETT, who neatly slotted home.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Newport 0
After seeing off some Newport pressure early in the second half, the hosts went in search of another goal.
Chaplin was never really going to trouble Day with an audacious attempt from wide on the left, while Baker’s effort rose over the crossbar.
Naismith then hit a cleanly-struck free-kick straight into the keeper’s arms, as the Blues started to take control.
They almost doubled their advantage on 58 minutes, but Chaplin – who wanted the pass played earlier – could not quite convert Gareth Evans’ low cross.
But Pompey did strengthen their lead just seconds later, as Bennett found Chaplin, who neatly chipped the ball up for an unmarked NAISMITH to head into the net.
Their attacking intent did not end there, though, and Naismith saw a corner deflected into the side netting, while his second attempt was just too high for Clarke at the far post.
It was not quite one-way traffic and Naismith eventually hacked the ball clear after a County corner caused some problems.
Bennett received hearty applause from the Fratton faithful when he made way for Jamal Lowe on 71 minutes.
But it was the visiting support almost cheering when Marlon Jackson sent the ball curling towards goal, only for Forde to make a fine save.
Newport did reduce their deficit moments later, though, with Samuel rising to convert Sean Rigg’s cross from the right.
And they come close to equalising on 78 minutes as the hosts started to get sloppy, with Forde coming off his line to deny Jackson.
County’s confidence had risen and Jack Whatmough replaced Naismith as Pompey tried to shore things up.
The nerves were starting to grow inside Fratton Park and Evans did well to take the ball off the foot of Samuel as he shaped to shoot.
But the Blues saw out the closing stages with relative ease to seal a valuable victory in the battle for promotion.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Bennett (Lowe 71), Naismith (Whatmough 83); E.Doyle (Chaplin 25)
Goals: Bennett 42, Naismith 59
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Linganzi, Hunt
Newport (4-2-3-1): Day; Pipe, Jones (Randall 71), Demetriou, Butler; Labadie (c), Bennett; Samuel, Rigg, Owen-Evans (Myrie-Williams 46); Bird (Jackson 46)
Goals: Samuel 75
Booked: Rigg, Labadie, Myrie-Williams
Subs not used: Bittner, Barnum-Bobb, Nelson, Gordon
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 17,364 (322 away fans)
An afternoon to forget for Blues
Pompey’s promotion charge received a set-back as they collapsed to defeat at Stevenage.
Despite hitting the woodwork twice, goals from Jack King and Matt Godden meant they deservedly trailed at the break.
Jobi McAnuff then wrapped things up in the opening seconds of the second half, while a red card for Christian Burgess and missed Conor Chaplin penalty served to perfectly sum up the Blues’ afternoon.
Paul Cook made two enforced changes from the side that beat Grimsby on home soil earlier in the week.
Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith both went off injured against the Mariners, so in came Tom Davies and Noel Hunt in a switch to a 3-5-2 system.
The visitors won an early corner and Carl Baker’s delivery was headed clear, with Davies receiving a bloody nose that forced him to change into a numberless shirt.
Enda Stevens then cut the ball across the face of goal and Gareth Evans charged in to send a fierce shot thudding against the crossbar.
But it was the hosts who then started to take control and they almost broke the deadlock on 12 minutes.
David Forde dived to his right to palm clear Steven Schumacher’s well-struck free-kick and then keep out Josh McQuoid’s follow-up.
The ball again fell to McQuoid, though, and his effort had to be hacked from the line by Matt Clarke, with referee Michael Salisbury ignoring pleas from the home fans that it had crossed.
But it was only a brief respite for the Blues and when an ambitious attempt from former Fratton trainee Luke Wilkinson cannoned back off the crossbar, the ball fell kindly for King to nod home.
Pompey tried to hit back and when Stevens’ cut-back evaded both Baker and Eoin Doyle, a shot from Evans flew wildly out of the ground.
Boro were looking full of vigour, however, and after Tom Pett surged through the centre, his strike had to be saved by Forde.
And they did double their advantage on 28 minutes when McAnuff found Godden in acres of space at the back post to fire into the net.
That finally seemed to spark Pompey into life and they did finish the first half strongly, without being able to find a goal.
Baker went closest with a fine free-kick that struck the underside of the bar and hit Stevenage keeper Chris Day, only to ricochet to safety.
Another Baker set-piece on 37 minutes then just evaded the leaping Davies and landed safely into Day’s arms.
Pompey would have wanted to build on that positive play just before the interval, but instead found themselves further behind within seconds of the restart.
Godden took advantage of some dithering defending to barge into a shooting position and although Forde did well to deny him, the keeper was powerless to prevent McAnuff from converting the loose ball.
The Blues tried desperately to find a route back into the contest, although their hurried play led to some sloppy moments.
They had a chance to reduce the deficit when Baker’s corner hit a defender in a crowded box and flew narrowly past the post.
But Stevenage were still looking a real threat on the counter-attack and when McAnuff picked out Godden, Davies had to get a block in.
Cook made a double substitution on 64 minutes, with Nicke Kabamba – making his senior debut – and Gary Roberts replacing Hunt and Baker.
A low delivery by Stevens then had to be cut out before it leave the lurking Eoin Doyle with a simple tap-in.
Chaplin came on for Eoin Doyle as Cook made his final throw of the dice, but the afternoon soon got worse for the Blues.
Burgess was booked for a foul and having already been carded for an earlier indiscretion, he received his marching orders.
But there was still time for more misfortune to befall Pompey as they missed an excellent opportunity to grab a consolation.
A penalty was awarded when Fraser Franks tripped Chaplin in the box, but the substitute hit his penalty down the middle and straight into Day’s arms.
That failed to dampen the noise emanating from the away end, though, as the Pompey fans kept cheering on their side despite a disappointing display.
Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Day; Franks, Wilkinson, King (c), Ntlhe (Gorman 74); Pett, Lee; McQuoid (Hinds 67), Schumacher, McAnuff (Loft 88); Godden
Goals: King 16, Godden 28, McAnuff 46
Booked: Wilkinson, Pett, Gorman, Franks
Subs not used: Preston, Johnson, Tonge, McKee
Pompey (3-5-2): Forde; T.Davies, Burgess, Clarke; Evans, Baker (Roberts 64), M.Doyle (c), Rose, Stevens; Hunt (Kabamba 64), E.Doyle (Chaplin 73)
Sent off: Burgess (two yellow cards)
Booked: Stevens, Baker
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Linganzi, Lowe
Referee: Michael Salisbury
Grimsby Town 0
Blues ease to home victory
Pompey brought their fine away form back to Fratton Park with a rout of Grimsby under the floodlights.
There was a touch of fortune about the first two goals, with Kyle Bennett and Danny Rose both benefiting from wicked deflections.
But it was more than luck that saw the Blues strengthen their promotion credentials, as they put their foot on the accelerator.
The points were secured with a couple more strikes either side of the interval, as first Carl Baker and then Kal Naismith got in on the fun.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that cruised to victory against Colchester at the weekend.
And he was almost rewarded with an early goal, as Baker flashed a shot narrowly over the bar soon after kick-off.
But it was Grimsby who looked more dangerous in the opening stages and Akwasi Asante saw a shot deflected narrowly wide following an untimely slip by Matt Clarke.
They went even closer moments later, with Zak Mills’ fierce long-range drive cannoning against the post.
And David Forde was soon called into action to push another decent attempt by Asante over the crossbar.
But the Blues scored against the run of play on 12 minutes, as BENNETT tried his luck from the edge of the box and the ball took a huge deflection to loop over Mariners keeper James McKeown and into the net.
From that point on the hosts dominated and Eoin Doyle could not quite connect with Gareth Evans’ dangerous low delivery.
A back-pedalling Naismith then got on the end of another Evans cross and watched as his header flew inches past the post.
The advantage was doubled on 35 minutes, however, when Bennett dummied Evans’ pass and ROSE hit a shot that took another deflection to beat McKeown.
Pompey kept pouring forward and when Baker slipped a fine ball through to Naismith, the winger’s cut-back was diverted just behind the onrushing Eoin Doyle.
There was a blow for the Blues just before the break, though, as Bennett went down injured and had to be replaced by Gary Roberts.
But the mood soon picked up and there was a third goal in stoppage-time, with BAKER collecting Evans’ pass and beating McKeown at his near post with a ferocious finish.
Grimsby Town 0
And it got even better for the hosts just 30 seconds after the restart when McKeown failed to hold Baker’s drive and NAISMITH slotted home the loose ball.
Pompey’s players were full of confidence and lining up to shoot against a stunned opposition defence, but the next effort from Baker ended up high in the Fratton End.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, however, some of the intensity went out of their performance as the half progressed.
Evans hit a clean shot on target just past the hour mark, but this time the ball was safely held by McKeown.
Pompey were dealt another injury blow on 68 minutes when Naismith signalled to come off after hurting his hamstring, with Jamal Lowe replacing him.
That failed to dampen the hosts’ dominance, though, and McKeown dived to his left to beat away Baker’s 25-yard drive.
Lowe then whipped in a cross from the right that was just behind Eoin Doyle and the on-loan striker could only head wide.
There was a jovial feel inside the stadium, with the Fratton End asking for a song from each stand – who duly obliged.
And the Blues saw out the closing stages in complete comfort to secure a third successive victory, with a third successive clean sheet.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Naismith (Lowe 68), Bennett (Roberts 45); E.Doyle (Chaplin 86)
Goals: Bennett 12, Rose 35, Baker 45+1, Naismith 46
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Hunt
Grimsby (3-5-2): McKeown; Mills, Pearson (c), Collins; Davies, Jones (Disley 57), Maxwell, Osborne (Comley 57), Andrew; Vernon, Asante (Yussuf 81)
Subs not used: Boyce, Bolarinwa, Vose, Dyson
Referee: Mark Haywood
Colchester United 0
Blues boost promotion hopes
Pompey ran riot at Colchester to strengthen their position inside League Two’s top three.
It was a display of attacking supremacy from the Blues, who arguably deserved to win by more than the four-goal margin.
Eoin Doyle got the ball rolling during a first half that saw the visitors grow stronger as it progressed.
And they moved comfortably through the gears after the interval, as Kyle Bennett, Danny Rose and Michael Doyle all got in on the act.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that comfortably beat Crawley earlier in the week.
But it was the hosts who made the brighter start and Brennan Dickenson did well down to the left, only to let himself down with the ball into the box.
Pompey soon began to settle and threaten going forward themselves, though, with some neat attacking play.
Eoin Doyle could not quite get on the end of an excellent Carl Baker cross, while a snap-shot from Kal Naismith was safely held by Colchester keeper Sam Walker.
Then when a cross was only partially dealt with by the United defence, Enda Stevens followed up with a volley that Walker was able to collect.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on 22 minutes, with Naismith sending the ball back into the box after his corner had been blocked and Eoin DOYLE heading home from close range.
He was not too far away from adding another soon after, but could not quite get on the end of Bennett’s near-post delivery.
And the on-loan Irishman then capitalised on some hesitancy by George Elokobi to deal with Stevens’ floated pass, only to send his shot over the bar.
Meanwhile, there was little to trouble the visitors at the other end of the pitch, as they comfortably held on to their lead at the break.
Colchester United 0
Colchester replaced Sammie Szmodics with Tarique Fosu at the interval in an attempt to improve their fortunes.
But instead Pompey found themselves further ahead just seconds after the restart – much to the delight of their large travelling army.
And it was BENNETT who doubled his tally for the week when, following good work down the right, Naismith selflessly squared for the winger to tuck home.
United came close to reducing their deficit moments later, but a stretching Chris Porter could not quite reach Dickenson’s cross.
But the Blues were still looking to get forward themselves and when Colchester switched off from a throw, Bennett picked the ball up and neatly side-stepped his man before blazing the shot wide.
Stevens then collected Naismith’s shot free-kick and beat a defender, only to see his arrowed drive deflected just past the post.
United were looking all at sea and it came as no surprise when Pompey extended their advantage further just past the hour mark.
Eoin Doyle did well to slide the ball through to ROSE, who saw his first shot blocked by Walker before neatly dinking home at the second attempt.
The keeper was almost caught out by Naismith moments later, but quickly back-pedalled to claw the ball clear.
Colchester had not created much at the other end and when they finally did get forward, it led to Pompey’s fourth goal.
The visitors broke quickly up the pitch from a corner, with Michael DOYLE surging forward to tuck away his first of the season after Naismith’s initial effort had been saved.
That was Naismith’s last bit of action, as he was immediately replaced by Noel Hunt, with Gary Roberts and Conor Chaplin joining him on the pitch soon after.
And there were no nerves in the closing stages as Pompey comfortably saw the game out to complete an enjoyable afternoon in Essex.
Colchester (4-2-3-1): Walker; Wright (Vincent-Young 66), James, Elokobi, Briggs; Garvan (Bonne 68), Lapslie; Murray, Szmodics (Fosu 46), Dickenson; Porter (c)
Subs not used: Barnes, Wynter, Kinsella, Pyke
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Naismith (Hunt 74), Bennett (Roberts 77); E.Doyle (Chaplin 84)
Goals: E.Doyle 22, Bennett 46, Rose 61, M.Doyle 73
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Lowe
Referee: Darren England
Crawley Town 0
Blues move up to third
Pompey stormed into the top three with a comfortable victory at Crawley.
After a solid – if unspectacular – first half from the visitors, they took control following the interval.
Christian Burgess headed them into the lead almost immediately after Eoin Doyle had seen his penalty saved.
And Kyle Bennett made sure that the Blues would climb above Luton and Carlisle with a deflected second.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side beaten at home by Crewe at the weekend.
Danny Rose replaced the injured Amine Linganzi in midfield, while Gary Roberts dropped to the bench to make way for Carl Baker.
It was a fairly comfortable first half for the visitors, who controlled proceedings without creating too many clear-cut chances.
There was plenty of probing from Pompey who sent some dangerous balls into the box that Crawley had to deal with.
And they had the first shot on target on 22 minutes, although Danny Rose’s drilled shot forced no more than a regulation save from Glenn Morris.
A dangerous delivery from the left by the lively Bennett was then just out of reach for Baker at the far post.
David Forde was having a quiet evening at the other end of the pitch, although the Blues back-line did have to mop up a couple of Crawley breaks.
Rose then tested Morris once more on 32 minutes, but again the shot did not overly trouble Morris between the sticks.
The best chance arrived soon after, when Baker released Eoin Doyle and Morris had to spread himself to deny the on-loan striker.
Crawley enjoyed their best period just before the break, with Rhys Murphy bending a shot narrowly wide before Enzio Boldewijn’s stoppage-time header was held by Forde.
Crawley Town 0
The hosts were first to threaten after the restart, with James Collins electing to shoot from a tight angle and unable to keep the ball on target.
But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 54 minutes – although they certainly could have done it in an easier manner.
Enda Stevens did well to break into the box and draw a late tackle from Red Devils right-back Josh Lelan.
Referee Kevin Johnson pointed to the spot and Eoin Doyle stepped up to take it, but Pompey’s penalty woes continued as Morris guessed the right way to make the save.
The ball was hacked behind, but Kal Naismith swung the corner into the box and BURGESS headed home from close range.
Naismith fancied another, though, and after being unable to catch Morris out from long-range, he surged half the length of the pitch before seeing a shot blocked.
But he was forced back on 64 minutes, filling the left-back role when Stevens limped off injured to be replaced by Noel Hunt.
That did not mean Naismith had to stop providing an attacking threat, however, and one cross from the left was held up by Hunt before Eoin Doyle’s fierce drive was blocked.
Pompey were not content to sit on their slim advantage and their attacking impetus was rewarded on 71 minutes.
Hunt sent the ball through Lelan’s legs, with BENNETT picking it up and launching a shot that was deflected past Morris’ grasp.
Crawley responded with a double substitution and one of the newcomers almost reduced the deficit, with Forde doing well to deny Billy Clifford with his legs.
They had to be more adventurous and Collins rose to meet a corner from the left, with the ball flashing inches wide of the post.
But the fact that Red Devils keeper Morris was awarded the home side’s man-of-the-match award was telling.
And the 2,300 travelling fans were in celebratory mood as the Blues comfortably saw out the closing stages to secure a valuable victory.
Crawley (4-2-3-1): Morris; Lelan, Connolly, McNerney, Young; Smith (c), Payne (Henderson 72); Boldewijn (Bawling 76), Murphy, Cox (Clifford 72); Collins
Subs not used: Mersin, Blackman, Djalo
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens (Hunt 64); Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Naismith, Bennett (T.Davies 90); E.Doyle
Goals: Burgess 54, Bennett 71
Booked: Hunt, E.Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Aborah, Lowe, Roberts, Chaplin
Referee: Kevin Johnson
Crewe Alexandra 1
Blues suffer Fratton defeat
Pompey produced a flat performance at Fratton Park as they were beaten by Crewe.
It was the second time in less than a week that they spurned the opportunity to climb into the automatic promotion places.
The hosts controlled possession, but opposition keeper Ben Garratt’s clean sheet rarely looked under threat.
And Crewe made the most of a spell of second half pressure to secure all three points, courtesy of skipper George Ray’s firm header.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew with Morecambe earlier in the week.
It came wide on the right, where Carl Baker dropped to the bench to make way for Tuesday’s goalscorer Kal Naismith.
Crewe had a chance to break the deadlock in the opening seconds, with David Forde getting down to save Jordan Bowery’s header.
But it was the Blues who dominated the majority of the first half, without being able to carve out many clear-cut openings.
Their best opportunity came when Enda Stevens whipped in a cross from the left, but it came at Eoin Doyle quickly and he could only glance over from close range.
And the on-loan Irishman was then not quite able to get on the end of a teasing low Naismith delivery.
Gary Roberts also went close with a free-kick from 20 yards that curled narrowly over the crossbar and onto the roof of the net.
There was plenty of probing from Pompey – with Kyle Bennett looking bright – but they struggled to break through a resolute Crewe back-line.
Naismith had a couple of chances late in the half, but on both occasions missed the target after electing to shoot rather than pass.
And the visitors almost grabbed the lead against the run of play before the break when Forde failed to get enough on his punch clear.
The ball was sent back into the box and Ben Nugent’s header was flying towards the net, only for Stevens to clear from the line.
Crewe Alexandra 0
The second half was less than five minutes old when Cook made his first substitution, as Amine Linganzi made way for Conor Chaplin.
Pompey were still looking lethargic, however, as they struggled to impose themselves in the opposition half.
And it was Crewe who had a decent opportunity when Ollie Turton found himself in space on the edge of the box, only to fire over.
Cook’s second switch arrived just past the hour mark, with Baker replacing Bennett as the Blues continued to search for a source of inspiration.
But there was growing frustration both on and off the pitch, as the hosts were labouring away with little reward.
Not that there was much to worry about at the other end pitch, with Callum Cooke finding the side netting in a rare Railwaymen attack.
But that seemed to spark the visitors into life and they twice came close to breaking the deadlock.
First, following a quick break from a Pompey corner, Cooke’s cross hit Stevens and flew inches past the post.
Stevens then came to rescue from the resulting corner, as – for the second time in the game – he cleared from the line, this time to deny Billy Bingham.
It was third time lucky for Alexandra, however, as the ball was sent back into the box, where Ray rose highest to convert a thumping header.
Noel Hunt was thrown on as the hosts committed plenty of men forward in desperate search of an equaliser.
But Crewe held firm at the back, seeing out four minutes of stoppage-time to leave Fratton Park feeling deflated at the final whistle.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi (Chaplin 50), M.Doyle (c); Naismith, Roberts (Hunt 79), Bennett (Baker 63); E.Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Rose, Lowe
Crewe (4-4-2): Garratt; Turton, Ray (c), Nugent, Bakayogo; Wintle, Jones, Bingham, Cooke (Cooper 80); Kiwomya (Ainley 90+3), Bingham
Goals: Ray 77
Subs not used: Richards, Ng, Pickering, Finney, Kirk
Referee: John Busby
Naismith strike not enough for victory
Pompey missed a chance to climb into the automatic promotion places after conceding a late equaliser against Morecambe.
It was the hosts showing all the ambition, although their dominance was receiving no reward as the Shrimps held firm.
But Kal Naismith came off the bench to break the deadlock after the interval and the points looked to have been secured.
Lee Molyneux spoiled the party, however, with a leveller to stop the Blues overhauling defeated Carlisle.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat their promotion rivals at the weekend.
And they immediately set about trying to attack their opponents, who were prepared to sit back and soak up the pressure.
The Blues were passing the ball around with style and were only let down by some wayward finishing.
But Morecambe were also indebted to their goalkeeper Barry Roche, who tipped over a Carl Baker shot before using his feet to deny Gary Roberts.
Roberts was dictating play in the middle of the park and played an exquisite pass through to Eoin Doyle, only for Alex Whitmore to come across and make a fine challenge.
There was not too much action at the other end of the pitch, although Christian Burgess headed off the line before referee Stephen Martin finally spotted his assistant flagging for a foul on David Forde.
It was soon the Blues back on the attack and when another fine Roberts pass released Gareth Evans, it took another Roche save to keep the scores level.
Kyle Bennett then sent a couple of long-range efforts narrowly off target, while Eoin Doyle headed over from a Baker cross.
But Morecambe almost forged ahead completely against the run of play on 32 minutes, with Forde doing brilliantly to stop Aaron Wildig from converting Paul Mullin’s cut-back.
Normality resumed for the rest of the half, but despite Pompey’s dominance, they couldn’t find a way through.
Paul Merson was introduced to the crowd at half-time ahead of his induction into the club’s Hall of Fame.
And Roberts was certainly trying to match the former Blues star in the creativity stakes, with a low cross just about grabbed by Roche before it could reach Eoin Doyle.
But the second half was lacking the excitement of the first and Cook tried to liven things up with a substitution on 56 minutes, replacing Baker with Conor Chaplin.
Bennett and Roberts combined well as the hosts tried to find a breakthrough, although the latter’s ball was not quite right for Eoin Doyle.
Cook’s second switch saw Naismith replace Bennett on the left – and it paid instant dividends.
NAISMITH controlled Michael Doyle’s pass with his first touch and then, with his second, steered the ball into the bottom corner from 25 yards.
The Blues continued to attack and Chaplin sent a snap-shot wide before Roberts saw his effort saved after being teed-up by Naismith.
But the game was drifting towards a conclusion, until Morecambe suddenly found themselves level on 83 minutes when the ball was worked across to Molyneux, who drove home a precise finish.
Pompey tried to hit back and the award of six additional minutes provided some hope that a winner could arrive.
But the Shrimps somehow survived a corner that ricocheted around their box to depart with a share of the spoils.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi (Rose 79), M.Doyle (c); Baker (Chaplin 56), Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 63); E.Doyle
Goals: Naismith 64
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Lowe, Hunt
Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Wakefield (McGowan 72), Edwards, Whitmore, Molyneux; Fleming (Murphy 79), Rose (c); Turner (Conlan 55), Wildig, Ellison; Mullin
Goals: Molyneux 83
Subs not used: Nizic, Duckworth, Evans, Jordan
Referee: Stephen Martin