FORM GUIDE (All competitions) – 35 %
WON WON LOST LOST LOST LOST LOST DRAWN WON LOST
Pompey climbed back into the play-off places after securing a deserved League One victory at Shrewsbury – despite playing a quarter of the contest with just 10 men.
They controlled possession, with goals from Marcus Harness and John Marqus securing a commanding lead at the break.
But Nathanael Ogbeta reduced the hosts’ deficit early in the second half and the Shrews were then given an extra boost.
Marquis was shown a controversial red card for a challenge on Harry Chapman, but the Blues saw the game out with relative ease to ensure the points would be heading back to the south coast.
Danny Cowley made four changes from the side that beat Ipswich on home soil in his first game in charge the previous week.
There were returns from injury for Marquis and Callum Johnson, while Michael Jacobs and Ben Close also started.
James Bolton and Andy Cannon dropped to the bench, with the injured Jordy Hiwula missing out completely and Ronan Curtis away on international duty.
Former Pompey striker Curtis Main was in the hosts’ line-up, although manager Steve Cotterill was still missing from the dug-out, as he continues his recovery from a Covid-enforced stay in hospital.
In a slow opening to proceedings it was the Shrews who were first to threaten, with Dan Udoh spinning on the edge of the box and firing in a low show that was saved by Craig MacGillivray.
But the Blues soon settled and began to dominate possession, while asking questions of their opponents’ back three.
Close lifted a pass into the mixer, where Ryan Williams rose to deftly flick the ball inches past the post.
Tom Naylor then tried to glance home a corner from Jacobs, but could not get enough on his header to guide it on target.
And the deadlock was broken on 25 minutes after Johnson had played a neat one-two with Williams down the right.
He then laid the ball off for HARNESS, who neatly bent the ball into the side of the net to make the pressure count.
They almost had a second when the ball pinged dangerously around the Shrewsbury box, but Harry Burgoyne denied Williams from point-blank range.
The Blues were on top, though, and unsurprisingly doubled their advantage on 36 minutes, with the impressive Close involved.
He lifted a pass towards Lee Brown at the far post and the left-back sent the ball across the face of goal, with MARQUIS on hand to find the net from a yard out.
Even when the hosts were able to get into Pompey’s area in stoppage-time, Naylor was back to dispossess Ogbeta.
Shrewsbury Town 0
The visitors appeared to be cruising, but conceded a soft goal soon after the restart to allow their opponents back into the contest.
Ogbeta collected the ball on the left and was given far too much space to race towards the edge of the box and stroke a shot into the bottom corner.
Pompey tried to hit back and a dangerous Harness delivery was turned behind, while Marquis was tackled before he could get a strike away.
Harness then cut the ball back from the right and there was another spot of pinball before the hosts was able to clear.
Shrewsbury then threatened at the other end, although Main flicked a Chapman cross straight into MacGillivray’s arms.
But Pompey were reduced to 10 men midway through the second half, with Marquis the man to be sent off.
He slid in on Chapman and appeared to win the ball, but also caught the Shrews substitute and referee Benjamin Speedie deemed it dangerous enough to issue a red card.
Cowley made a change shortly afterwards, with Jacobs making way for Cannon to shore up the midfield.
And the lively Close was then replaced by former Shrews defender Charlie Daniels for the closing stages.
Pompey were not being put under too much pressure from their hosts as they attempted to see the contest out.
A display of seven additional minutes might have caused nerves to rise among the visiting ranks, but they held on to celebrate another vital victory.
Shrewsbury (3-4-1-2): Burgoyne; Pennington (Pyke 82), Ebanks-Landell (c), Williams; Sears (Chapman 46), Davis, Vela, Ogbeta; Goss (Whalley 69); Udoh (Edwards 69), Main
Goals: Ogbeta 52
Subs not used: Bevan, Bloxham, Caton
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Johnson, Whatmough, Raggett, Brown; Naylor (c), Close (Daniels 84); Harness, Williams (Nicolaisen 90+5), Jacobs (Cannon 75); Marquis
Goals: Harness 25, Marquis 36
Sent off: Marquis
Subs not used: Ward, Bolton, Byers, White
Referee: Benjamin Speedie
That was until midday Monday when tiredness took over and a general feeling of having a bad cold and an arm that was virtually useless. Seems all three of us vaccinated at the weekend ended up off sick from it.
Can’t say I’m looking forward to the second one and will book a couple of days off after to be on the safe side.
It looked like more of the same for the Blues, who fell behind to James Norwood’s emphatic first half striker.
But Tom Naylor nodded the hosts back on level terms before the break and Marcus Harness slotted home the winner after it.
Cowley’s first starting line-up saw two changes from the side that were narrowly beaten at Peterborough earlier in the week.
Jordy Hiwula and Marcus Harness both returned, with Ben Close and Rasmus Nicolaisen dropping to the bench.
After playing with three at the back against Posh, there was also a switch to a 4-2-3-1 system, with Ryan Williams tucked in behind Hiwula.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition technical area, with Paul Cook and Gary Roberts leading the Tractor Boys.
Ronan Curtis had an early attempt, courtesy of a 35-yard free-kick that was bent over the wall, but comfortably into the arms of Tomas Holy.
There was plenty of noise being generated by both managers, as well as the injured John Marquis up in the South Stand.
It was not a particularly rip-roaring contest on the pitch, though, with both sides showing plenty of energy, but failing to turn that into clear-cut chances.
Ipswich’s first opportunity also came from a free-kick, with Jack Whatmough booked for his challenge on Keanan Bennetts.
Andy Cannon adopted the now popular ‘draught excluder’ technique by laying down flat behind the wall.
Alan Judge bent his strike over it, however, and Craig MacGillivray flung himself to the left to push the ball clear.
But the visitors did break the deadlock soon after, as Norwood raced onto Gwion Edwards’ threaded pass and rifled home.
Pompey quickly fought back, though, and levelled by scoring their first goal in 358 minutes of football.
Curtis whipped a fine corner into the box and NAYLOR rose highest to send a header against the inside of the post and into the net.
Ipswich Town 1
An early long-range attempt from Edwards straight after the restart was easily dealt with by MacGillivray.
The Blues then came close to taking the lead for the first time in what would have been a similar goal to their first.
Naylor again met a corner from Curtis, but this time Holy was able to push the ball away – then stop Sean Raggett from converting the rebound.
Cowley made his first switch just before the hour mark, with Andy Cannon – who had just been booked – making way for Close.
Williams then had a chance after being picked out by Harness following a quick break, but could not keep his angled strike on target.
A second switch followed on 72 minutes, with Michael Jacobs on for Hiwula and Curtis moving up front.
And it was the Republic of Ireland international who provided the pass for Pompey’s second goal a few seconds later.
He sent a low pass across the area and HARNESS’ first shot was blocked by Judge, but the ball landed back at his feet to slam past a helpless Holy.
Pompey looked to keep possession as much as possible in the closing stages, but had two late chances to increase their lead.
Toto Nsiala almost sliced a Harness cross into his own net and then, from the resulting corner, Holy kept out James Bolton’s header from point-blank range.
But the Blues saw out five minutes of stoppage-time to collect a precious three points and ensure the Cowley brothers began their reign with a win.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Bolton, Whatmough, Raggett, Brown; Naylor (c), Cannon (Close 58); Harness, Williams, Curtis; Hiwula (Jacobs 72)
Goals: Naylor 41, Harness 72
Booked: Whatmough, Curtis, Cannon, Jacobs
Subs not used: Ward, Mnoga, Nicolaisen, Daniels, Byers
Ipswich (4-2-3-1): Holy; Chambers (c), Nsiala, Wilson (Vincent-Young 79), Ward; Bishop (Parrott 89), Dozzell; Edwards, Judge (Jackson 79), Bennetts (Dobra 59); Norwood
Goals: Norwood 32
Booked: Edwards, Chambers, Bishop
Subs not used: Cornell, McGuinness, Skuse
Referee: Alan Young