Loan : Portsmouth – Northampton Town
Loan : Portsmouth – Northampton Town
|Striker moves to League One side.
Michael Smith has joined Northampton loan for the rest of the season.
The 25-year-old striker has scored 10 goals in 37 appearances since arriving at Fratton Park in February 2016.
He netted a hat-trick in August’s EFL Trophy defeat at Yeovil and also struck this season in league games against Cheltenham, Luton and Stevenage.
Northampton won the League Two title last term and currently sit 16th in the third tier standings table ahead of a trip to Walsall on Saturday.
Loan : Preston NE – Portsmouth
Blues bring in striker on deadline day
Pompey have signed Eoin Doyle on loan from Championship side Preston North End for the remainder of the 2016/17 campaign.
The 28-year-old Irish striker will wear the number 17 shirt during his time at Fratton Park.
He played under Paul Cook at both Sligo and Chesterfield, and the Blues boss said: “Having worked with Eoin previously at two clubs, I am delighted with this signing.
“He knows what I want as a manager and I know that I can rely on him to give 100 per cent on the pitch.
“Eoin brings commitment and quality to our side and I’m sure he’ll be popular with all our supporters.
“We’re extremely pleased with his signing and are very grateful to Preston for loaning him to us.”
Doyle moved south of the border from Hibs to join Chesterfield in 2013 and also featured for Cardiff prior to signing for Preston last summer following a successful loan spell.
Loan : Portsmouth – Eastleigh
|Midfielder joins National League side.
Ben Close has joined Eastleigh on loan for the rest of the season.
The 20-year-old midfielder has made four appearances for Pompey this term, most recently skippering the side to an EFL Trophy victory over Bristol Rovers.
He also featured against Yeovil and Reading in the same competition, as well as in the FA Cup defeat to Wycombe.
Eastleigh – managed by ex-Blues midfielder Martin Allen – are currently sitting 13th in the National League table ahead of their next game at Guiseley
|Defender departs Fratton Park.
Pompey and Adam Buxton have mutually agreed to cancel the defender’s contract with Pompey.
The 24-year-old full-back made eight appearances for the Blues after signing from Accrington last summer.
He made his debut in an EFL Cup defeat at Coventry in August, also featuring in cup contests against Reading, Wycombe and Bristol Rovers.
Pompey were unable to halt Exeter’s resurgence as they fell to defeat against their in-form visitors.
The goal that proved the difference between the sides from David Wheeler owed a lot of good fortune, with a ricochet aiding the Devon outfit.
But the Blues struggled to create many chances of note in their ultimately futile search for a leveller.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Leyton Orient on the south coast a fortnight earlier.
That meant Conor Chaplin continued to lead the line alongside Michael Smith in a 4-4-2 formation.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause in memory of title-winning forward Lindy Delapenha, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.
There was little to excite another large Fratton crowd once the action got underway, with clear-cut chances at a premium throughout the first half.
The hosts dominated possession, although a well-marshalled defence meant they were not able to test Christy Pym in the Grecians goal.
Chaplin showed some neat invention to try to convert Carl Baker’s cross with a back-flick, but the ball flew wide.
David Forde flung himself to the left to deny Reuben Reid at the other end, then grabbed the loose ball at the second attempt.
Ollie Watkins was looking the most threatening player for the visitors and the sought-after striker drilled a low effort narrowly past the post on 16 minutes.
And Christian Burgess was enjoying a personal tussle with Reid, with the defender making a couple of key challenges inside the box to frustrate his opponent.
There was one more opportunity for Baker to break the deadlock before the break, but his effort was fumbled behind by Pym as a drab opening 45 minutes came to a close.
Exeter City 0
Pompey were first to threaten at the start of the second half, but a poor attempt from Kal Naismith flew over the bar.
The visitors went closer moments later and Enda Stevens had to turn Ryan Harley’s cross behind before Watkins could pounce.
And the Grecians did forge ahead on 57 minutes – although they were aided by a huge slice of fortune.
Reid burst down the centre and when he was dispossessed, the ball ricocheted off Danny Rose and straight into the path of Wheeler, who lashed it into the net.
Cook immediately responded with a double substitution, bringing on Jamal Lowe and Gary Roberts in place of Smith and Baker.
And Lowe tried to add a spark to the hosts’ performance with some tricky footwork, while his cross was headed wide by Matt Clarke.
It was Gareth Evans who forced Pym into action on 72 minutes, however, with a fierce left-footed effort that the keeper did well to smother.
But Exeter then came close to doubling their advantage when Troy Brown met a corner and glanced a header inches wide.
Pompey pushed forward in search of an equaliser and some fans thought a penalty had been awarded when Stevens went down under Jack Stacey’s challenge, although referee Dean Whitestone was instead pointing for a goal-kick.
There were also a host of late corners, which saw Forde come up to provide a different threat, but despite five minutes of added time and the Grecians starting to sit back, the hosts were unable to provide some late drama.
Pompey (4-4-2): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Baker (Roberts 59), Rose, Doyle (c), Naismith; Chaplin, Smith (Lowe 59)
Booked: Clarke, Forde
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Bennett, Hunt
Exeter (4-4-2): Pym; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor (c), Woodman; Wheeler, Taylor, James, Harley; Reid (McAlinden 81), Watkins
Goals: Wheeler 57
Subs not used: Olejnik, Sweeney, Tillson, Croll, Oakley, Simpson
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 17,195 (1,010 away fans)
22 January 1940 – 25 January 2017
John Hurt, widely admired stage and screen actor, dies aged 77.
British actor became an overnight sensation after playing Quentin Crisp in the 1975 television film The Naked Civil Servant
Few British actors of recent years have been held in as much affection as Sir John Hurt, who has died aged 77. That affection is not just because of his unruly lifestyle – he was a hell-raising chum of Oliver Reed, Peter O’Toole and Richard Harris, and was married four times – or even his string of performances as damaged, frail or vulnerable characters, though that was certainly a factor. There was something about his innocence, open-heartedness and his beautiful speaking voice that made him instantly attractive.
As he aged, his face developed more creases and folds than the old map of the Indies, inviting comparisons with the famous “lived-in” faces of WH Auden and Samuel Beckett, in whose reminiscent Krapp’s Last Tape he gave a definitive solo performance towards the end of his career. One critic said he could pack a whole emotional universe into the twitch of an eyebrow, a sardonic slackening of the mouth. Hurt himself said: “What I am now, the man, the actor, is a blend of all that has happened.”
For theatregoers of my generation, his pulverising, hysterically funny performance as Malcolm Scrawdyke, leader of the Party of Dynamic Erection at a Yorkshire art college, in David Halliwell’s Little Malcolm and His Struggle Against the Eunuchs, was a totemic performance of the mid-1960s; another was David Warner’s Hamlet, and both actors appeared in the 1974 film version of Little Malcolm. The play lasted only two weeks at the Garrick Theatre (I saw the final Saturday matinée), but Hurt’s performance was already a minor cult, and one collected by the Beatles and Laurence Olivier.
He became an overnight sensation with the public at large as Quentin Crisp – the self-confessed “stately homo of England” – in the 1975 television film The Naked Civil Servant, directed by Jack Gold, playing the outrageous, original and defiant aesthete whom Hurt had first encountered as a nude model in his painting classes at St Martin’s School of Art, before he trained as an actor.
Crisp called Hurt “my representative here on Earth”, ironically claiming a divinity at odds with his low-life louche-ness and poverty. But Hurt, a radiant vision of ginger quiffs and curls, with a voice kippered in gin and as studiously inflected as a deadpan mix of Noël Coward, Coral Browne and Julian Clary, in a way propelled Crisp to the stars, and certainly to his transatlantic fame, a journey summarised when Hurt recapped Crisp’s life in An Englishman in New York (2009), 10 years after his death.
Hurt said some people had advised him that playing Crisp would end his career. Instead, it made everything possible. Within five years he had appeared in four of the most extraordinary films of the late 1970s: Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), the brilliantly acted sci-fi horror movie in which Hurt – from whose stomach the creature exploded – was the first victim; Alan Parker’s Midnight Express, for which he won his first Bafta award as a drug-addicted convict in a Turkish torture prison; Michael Cimino’s controversial western Heaven’s Gate (1980), now a cult classic in its fully restored format; and David Lynch’s The Elephant Man (1980), with Anthony Hopkins and Anne Bancroft.
In the latter, as John Merrick, the deformed circus attraction who becomes a celebrity in Victorian society and medicine, Hurt won a second Bafta award and Lynch’s opinion that he was “the greatest actor in the world”. He infused a hideous outer appearance – there were 27 moving pieces in his face mask; he spent nine hours a day in make-up – with a deeply moving, humane quality. He followed up with a small role – Jesus – in Mel Brooks’s History of the World: Part 1 (1981), the movie where the waiter at the Last Supper says, “Are you all together, or is it separate cheques?”
Hurt was an actor freed of all convention in his choice of roles, and he lived his life accordingly. Born in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, he was the youngest of three children of a Church of England vicar and mathematician, the Reverend Arnould Herbert Hurt, and his wife, Phyllis (née Massey), an engineer with an enthusiasm for amateur dramatics.
After a miserable schooling at St Michael’s in Sevenoaks, Kent (where he said he was sexually abused), and the Lincoln grammar school (where he played Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest), he rebelled as an art student, first at the Grimsby art school where, in 1959, he won a scholarship to St Martin’s, before training at Rada for two years in 1960.
He made a stage debut that same year with the Royal Shakespeare Company at the Arts, playing a semi-psychotic teenage thug in Fred Watson’s Infanticide in the House of Fred Ginger and then joined the cast of Arnold Wesker’s national service play, Chips With Everything, at the Vaudeville. Still at the Arts, he was Len in Harold Pinter’s The Dwarfs (1963) before playing the title role in John Wilson’s Hamp (1964) at the Edinburgh Festival, where critic Caryl Brahms noted his unusual ability and “blessed quality of simplicity”.
This was a more relaxed, free-spirited time in the theatre. Hurt recalled rehearsing with Pinter when silver salvers stacked with gins and tonics, ice and lemon, would arrive at 11.30 each morning as part of the stage management routine. On receiving a rude notice from the distinguished Daily Mail critic Peter Lewis, he wrote, “Dear Mr Lewis, Whooooops! Yours sincerely, John Hurt” and received the reply, “Dear Mr Hurt, thank you for short but tedious letter. Yours sincerely, Peter Lewis.”
After Little Malcolm, he played leading roles with the RSC at the Aldwych – notably in David Mercer’s Belcher’s Luck (1966) and as the madcap dadaist Tristan Tzara in Tom Stoppard’s Travesties (1974) – as well as Octavius in Shaw’s Man and Superman in Dublin in 1969 and an important 1972 revival of Pinter’s The Caretaker at the Mermaid. But his stage work over the next 10 years was virtually non-existent as he followed The Naked Civil Servant with another pyrotechnical television performance as Caligula in I, Claudius; Raskolnikov in Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and the Fool to Olivier’s King Lear in Michael Elliott’s 1983 television film.
His first big movie had been Fred Zinnemann’s A Man for All Seasons (1966) with Paul Scofield (Hurt played Richard Rich) but his first big screen performance was an unforgettable Timothy Evans, the innocent framed victim in Richard Fleischer’s 10 Rillington Place (1970), with Richard Attenborough as the sinister landlord and killer John Christie. He claimed to have made 150 movies and persisted in playing those he called “the unloved … people like us, the inside-out people, who live their lives as an experiment, not as a formula”. Even his Ben Gunn-like professor in Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) fitted into this category, though not as resoundingly, perhaps, as his quivering Winston Smith in Michael Radford’s terrific Nineteen Eighty-Four (1984); or as a prissy weakling, Stephen Ward, in Michael Caton-Jones’s Scandal (1989) about the Profumo affair; or again as the lonely writer Giles De’Ath in Richard Kwietniowski’s Love and Death on Long Island.
His later, sporadic theatre performances included a wonderful Trigorin in Chekhov’s The Seagull at the Lyric, Hammersmith, in 1985 (with Natasha Richardson as Nina); Turgenev’s incandescent idler Rakitin in a 1994 West End production by Bill Bryden of A Month in the Country, playing a superb duet with Helen Mirren’s Natalya Petrovna; and another memorable match with Penelope Wilton in Brian Friel’s exquisite 70-minute doodle Afterplay (2002), in which two lonely Chekhov characters – Andrei from Three Sisters, Sonya from Uncle Vanya – find mutual consolation in a Moscow café in the 1920s. The play originated, like his Krapp, at the Gate Theatre in Dublin.
His last screen work included, in the Harry Potter franchise, the first, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), and last two, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Parts One and Two (2010, 2011), as the kindly wand-maker Mr Ollivander; Roland Joffé’s 1960s remake of Brighton Rock (2010); and the 50th anniversary television edition of Dr Who (2013), playing a forgotten incarnation of the title character.
Because of his distinctive, virtuosic vocal attributes – was that what a brandy-injected fruitcake sounds like, or peanut butter spread thickly with a serrated knife? – he was always in demand for voiceover gigs in animated movies: the heroic rabbit leader, Hazel, in Watership Down (1978), Aragorn/Strider in Lord of the Rings (1978) and the Narrator in Lars von Trier’s Dogville (2004). In 2015 he took the Peter O’Toole stage role in Jeffrey Bernard is Unwell for BBC Radio 4. He had foresworn alcohol for a few years – not for health reasons, he said, but because he was bored with it.
Hurt’s sister was a teacher in Australia, his brother a convert to Roman Catholicism and a monk and writer. After his first short marriage to the actor Annette Robinson (1960, divorced 1962) he lived for 15 years in London with the French model Marie-Lise Volpeliere Pierrot. She was killed in a riding accident in 1983. In 1984 he married, secondly, a Texan, Donna Peacock (divorced in 1990), living with her for a time in Nairobi until the relationship came under strain from his drinking and her dalliance with a gardener. With his third wife, Jo Dalton (married in 1990, divorced 1995), he had two sons, Nicolas and Alexander (“Sasha”), who survive him, as does his fourth wife, the actor and producer Anwen Rees-Myers, whom he married in 2005 and with whom he lived in Cromer, Norfolk. Hurt was made CBE in 2004, given a Bafta lifetime achievement award in 2012 and knighted in the New Year’s honours list of 2015.
Well the plan for a lads day in Crawley didn’t come off due to a frozen pitch. Quite why it was called off at 9am when it’s only an hours travel time is confusing but that’s life.
So we had breakfast and then went to watch the early game, everything is a bit hazy after that. I remember lots of drinks, pool, darts and a few rounds of spoof. I also remember arriving in Emsworth and then Barnham which makes no sense. Also I got kebab somewhere.
I guess that makes it a good day out, Sunday is not such fun though
Transfer : Hampton & Richmond Borough – Portsmouth
|Pompey have signed striker Nicke Kabamba from Hampton & Richmond for an undisclosed fee
The 23-year-old – who has netted 16 National League South goals this season – has penned an 18-month deal with the Blues, with the club holding an option for a further year.
Kabamba has previously turned out for Burnham and Hemel Hempstead, and scored at Bath in his last appearance for Hampton & Richmond.
Conor Chaplin bagged a brace as Pompey got their promotion challenge back on track by beating Leyton Orient.
It was a display of almost total dominance by the Blues and the margin of victory probably should have been greater.
Chaplin saw a penalty saved, but quickly put that out of his mind to open the scoring, only for Gavin Massey to grab an impressive leveller.
There was to be no shock outcome, however, as Chaplin grabbed his second of the afternoon – and seventh of the season – early in the second half.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that were beaten at table-topping Doncaster nine days earlier.
That saw Chaplin replace Kyle Bennett, as the hosts switched to a more traditional 4-4-2 system.
There were plenty of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with former Blues Alex Cisak, Nigel Atangana and Paul McCallum all selected.
Both sets of fans held a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of former Pompey and Orient defender Paul Went, as well as ex-England boss Graham Taylor.
On the pitch it was a totally dominant first half display from the hosts, who set about attacking their struggling opponents straight from kick-off.
Chaplin could not quite get a touch to Kal Naismith’s clever free-kick after nipping in between a couple of defenders.
Tom Parkes then made a mess of trying to clear Carl Baker’s cross and Cisak had to intervene to stop the ball dipping under the crossbar.
Naismith soon played a neat one-two with Michael Smith and burst into the box, only to then fire over the top.
The hosts had an even better chance to break the deadlock on 22 minutes when Sammy Moore tripped Enda Stevens just inside the box.
Referee Brett Hutxtable pointed to the spot, but Cisak guessed the right way to palm Chaplin’s shot wide – the fifth penalty that Pompey have missed this season.
It was only a brief respite for the beleaguered visitors, however, as CHAPLIN made amends just seconds later by arriving at the far post to turn home Baker’s low cross.
The Blues immediately set about trying to add to their lead and Baker sent an effort curling narrowly past the post.
And Smith was unlucky not to add his name to the scoresheet when he met Naismith’s corner, only to see his header cleared from the line by Parkes.
David Forde might as well have been sat in the Fratton End such was Pompey’s dominance in the early stages.
But his first involvement was to pick the ball out of the net, as Orient levelled with their maiden chance on 38 minutes.
Not that the keeper could have done much to stop a stunning strike from Massey that flew into the top corner.
And the action was soon back down the other end of the pitch, with Stevens’ cut-back going behind three of his waiting team-mates in the box.
There was still time for one more chance in stoppage-time, with Teddy Mezague making a brilliant block to deny Baker before Naismith drove the loose ball wide.
Leyton Orient 1
There was a surprise switch at the start of the second half, with Jamal Lowe introduced in place of Gareth Evans – who had picked up an injury before the break – to make his Blues debut.
That saw Baker drop to right-back, but it did not stop his attacking intent as he soon provided the assist for a second Pompey goal.
It was a fine cross in from the right and CHAPLIN showed his usual poaching instincts to arrive and head the hosts back into the lead.
There might have been another soon after when Cisak fumbled Stevens’ low cross, but the keeper grabbed the loose ball before Smith could pounce.
Orient were unsurprisingly showing more ambition than prior to the interval, but it was still the Blues controlling possession as the half progressed.
Naismith, in particular, was looking full of confidence, showcasing some silky skills to jink his way past challenges.
But there was almost a disaster for Pompey on 66 minutes when Christian Burgess did not spot Forde coming to collect the ball and headed narrowly past his own post.
It was soon back to normal, though, and only a slight deflection prevented Smith from turning in Naismith’s free-kick.
Amine Linganzi replaced the Scottish winger on 76 minutes, as Cook looked to inject more steel into the midfield.
But that did not mean the Blues were looking to sit on their lead and a sliding Smith was agonisingly close to reaching Chaplin’s centre.
Stevens then surged into the box from wide on the left and sent a powerful effort fizzing past the post.
Chaplin received a standing ovation as he left the pitch to be replaced by Bennett for the closing stages.
And it was a deserved reception for the diminutive striker, as Pompey saw out the final few minutes to secure a valuable victory.
Pompey (4-4-2): Forde; Evans (Lowe 46), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Baker, Rose, Doyle (c), Naismith (Linganzi 76); Smith, Chaplin (Bennett 87)
Goals: Chaplin 23
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Roberts, Hunt
Leyton Orient (5-1-2-1-1): Cisak; Judd, Hunt (c), Mezague, Parkes, Semedo (Palmer 89); Moore (Bowery 69); Atangana, Collins; Massey; McCallum
Goals: Massey 38
Subs not used: Sargeant, Pollock, Kennedy, Nnomo, Koroma
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 16,564 (607 away fans)
Pompey missed out on the chance to close in on the automatic promotion places with a 3-1 defeat at Doncaster.
Former Fratton loanee John Marquis gave the hosts an early lead, only for Kal Naismith to level late in the first half.
But the Blues failed to build on that after the break, with Tommy Rowe rocketing Rovers back ahead before Marquis wrapped things up.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that beat Luton at Fratton Park on Bank Holiday Monday.
That meant an attacking midfield trio of Carl Baker, Naismith and Kyle Bennett were deployed behind lone frontman Michael Smith.
Pompey started poorly against the league leaders and looked particularly susceptible on the counter-attack.
And it came as no surprise when Doncaster broke the deadlock after just five minutes, with James Coppinger’s delivery flicked on by Matty Blair for Marquis to head home.
Rovers immediately set about trying to build on their lead and David Forde denied Conor Grant before another dangerous Coppinger cross had to be hooked clear by Michael Doyle.
But the Blues almost levelled with their first decent chance soon after, as keeper Marko Marosi only just managed to keep out Matt Clarke’s header from a Baker corner.
The visitors grew stronger as the half progressed, but Doncaster still looked threatening on the break and one ended with Niall Mason firing into the side netting.
Marquis was then inches away from extending their advantage, meeting Craig Alcock’s cross, but seeing his header hit the woodwork.
A couple of Naismith corners caused problems at the other end of the pitch, while Marosi did well to gobble up Enda Stevens’ low cross before Smith could pounce.
Pompey were starting to pile on some pressure, however, and they deservedly found themselves back on level terms just before the break.
Former Rovers winger Bennett – who was roundly booed by the home support throughout – intercepted the ball and threaded a neat pass to NAISMITH, who coolly slid the ball past Marosi.
Doncaster Rovers 1
Both sides had looked capable of adding more goals before the interval, but the second half took longer to provide any inspiration.
An Evans shot from long-range that forced Marosi down to his left was as close as either side came in the opening stages.
But Doncaster suddenly brought the game back to life by restoring their advantage on 58 minutes.
It was a fine effort from Rowe, who collected a pass from Coppinger and beat Evans before rifling a fierce shot into the roof of the net.
Cook soon responded by making his first substitution, with Milan Lalkovic given an opportunity to impress in place of Baker.
And Bennett then made way for Gary Roberts, as Pompey tried to add fresh attacking impetus into their side.
But it was Rovers who looked the more dangerous going forward and they extended their lead on 71 minutes.
It was Marquis who found the target once again after a cross from Rowe was deflected kindly into his path.
Cook made one final throw of the dice soon after, with Naismith making way so Conor Chaplin could partner Smith up front.
It was Lalkovic who almost reduced the deficit, however, meeting Evans’ excellent cross with a close-range header that Marosi dived across goal to keep out.
But the keeper almost cost his side moments later when he failed to hold a cross under pressure from Smith.
The loose ball fell to Chaplin, who did not have long to react, and his effort was hacked clear by a well-placed Alcock.
An injury to Marosi – which saw the keeper stretchered off – meant there were seven minutes of injury-time.
But that failed to provide the inspiration for an unlikely comeback as Doncaster saw out the final moments to increase their title hopes.
Doncaster (4-3-2-1): Marosi (Etheridge 86); Alcock, Baudry, Butler, Mason; Blair (Williams 55), Houghton, Grant; Coppinger (c) (Middleton 67), Rowe; Marquis
Goals: Marquis 5, 71, Rowe 58
Subs not used: Wright, Keegan, Beestin, May
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Lalkovic 62), Naismith (Chaplin 75), Bennett (Roberts 67); Smith
Goals: Naismith 41
Booked: Burgess, Evans, Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi, Hunt
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Attendance: 5,568 (669 Pompey fans)
Pompey got 2017 off to a great start by beating Luton to close the gap on the automatic promotion places.
Christian Burgess grabbed the only goal of the game by heading home from a first half free-kick.
The hosts dominated before the break, but there were a few nervy moments after it and Gary Roberts missed a penalty before the victory could finally be celebrated.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew at a foggy Yeovil in the final game of last year.
Noel Hunt dropped to the bench to make way for Kyle Bennett, as the Blues switched back to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system.
The visitors’ line-up suggested they would play with more ambition than most sides who visit Fratton Park.
But it was the Blues who made the brighter start, without really testing Christian Walton in the Hatters goal.
There was then a lengthy break in play when Cameron McGeehan went down injured following a challenge with Michael Doyle and had to be stretchered from the pitch.
The game took a while to gather pace once it restarted, but Pompey soon started to impose themselves.
Gareth Evans sent a snap-shot narrowly over the bar from 30 yards, while an unmarked Carl Baker then completely mis-hit his effort from inside the box.
Bennett was next to go close when he collected a pass from Enda Stevens and sent a low drive inches past the post.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on 31 minutes after Bennett had been fouled by Stephen O’Donnell wide on the left.
Baker stepped up to send a sumptuous delivery into the box, where BURGESS rose highest to send a thumping header into the net.
He then made an important intervention at the other end of the pitch to dispossess Danny Hylton inside the area.
But most of the action was still taking place in and around the Luton box, with Scott Cuthbert forced to make a vital challenge when Evans collected Baker’s incisive pass.
And Burgess almost doubled the advantage just before the break, only to divert Kal Naismith’s corner wide.
Luton Town 0
Pompey started the second half as they had finished the first – and an unmarked Evans should really have done better than guiding Baker’s free-kick straight at Walton.
Naismith then delivered a dangerous cross that was just behind the onrushing Michael Smith, as the Blues looked to make their pressure count.
But Luton almost levelled when Burgess was caught in possession seconds later. Hylton stole the ball and neatly chipped David Forde, but it bounced back off the crossbar.
The visitors were certainly looking more of a threat since the interval and Forde made a comfortable stop to deny Jonathan Smith before a free-kick was nervously dealt with by Stevens.
And it was Smith who should have at least tested Forde when Hylton ran along the byline and teed-up him up, only for the midfielder to fire wide from a few yards out.
Cook made his first substitution on 68 minutes, with a refreshed Roberts coming on for Bennett.
It was a nervy period for Pompey and Forde had to palm the ball clear when James Justin took advantage of Evans’ slip to fire in a shot.
The visitors were being hampered by an injury to Hylton, however. Boss Nathan Jones had already made all his changes, so the striker was forced to carry on, cutting a forlorn figure as he hobbled around the pitch.
Pompey tried to make the most of that and one attack looked particularly promising on 75 minutes.
They broke quickly up the pitch, but Smith picked the ball up when he probably should have left it for Naismith and when his path was blocked, Baker fired high over the bar.
There was certainly a feeling of tension around Fratton Park as the clock ticked down towards a much-needed home triumph.
Roberts then missed a chance to let everyone breathe out when he fired over from the spot after Noel Hunt had been tripped in the box by Olly Lee in stoppage-time.
But the Blues saw out the final few moments to ensure there was plenty of New Year cheer on the south coast.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Linganzi 84), Doyle (c); Baker (Hunt 80), Naismith, Bennett (Roberts 68); Smith
Goals: Burgess 31
Booked: Forde, Hunt
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Lalkovic, Chaplin
Luton (4-1-2-1-2): Walton; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Mullins, Justin; Rea; Gilliead (Lee 54), Smith; McGeehan (Mpanzu 20); Cook (Vassell 54), Hylton
Booked: McGeehan, Smith, Vassell, Mpanzu
Subs not used: King, Senior, Marriott, McQuoid
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 17,402 (1,547 away fans)