|Jaime Murray197644||Jing Tian198832||Ali Cobrin198931||Juno Temple198931|
Transfer : Portsmouth – Wigan Athletic
|Jamal Lowe has completed a move to Championship side Wigan for an undisclosed fee.
The 25-year-old winger scored 29 goals in 119 appearances during his two-and-a-half years at Fratton Park.
He arrived at Pompey from Hampton & Richmond in January 2017 and helped them secure promotion in his first season.
Lowe netted twice on a memorable day at Notts County that secured a spot in League One for Paul Cook’s side.
He also scored a stunning strike at Wembley back in March, as the Blues beat Sunderland on penalties to lift the EFL Trophy.
Brett Pitman hit a hat-trick, while there were braces from Louis Dennis and Ronan Curtis, with Jamal Lowe, Gareth Evans, Joe Hancott and Ben Close also scoring against the top-flight Irish club.
Following almost two weeks of training at bases in Portsmouth and Dublin, the Blues returned to match action with less than a month until the start of the new League One campaign.
Pompey – with summer recruits James Bolton, Paul Downing, Sean Raggett, Ross McCrorie and Ellis Harrison all starting – looked bright from the off and opened their account after just 10 minutes.
Dennis looked electric in the opening half and he crossed from the right, with CURTIS doing just enough to force his header home.
And the lead was soon doubled following more good work from Dennis, who delivered from the opposite flank, leaving LOWE with plenty of time to slot past Conor Kearns.
The visitors almost added a third just seconds later, but Lowe’s effort was saved and the ball ricocheted against the bar.
That would be Kearns’ final contribution, with the keeper taken off injured and replaced between the sticks by Tom Murphy.
The lead was increased midway through the half, however, as DENNIS latched on to Lee Brown’s quickly taken free-kick and bent a shot around the new stopper.
CURTIS then got his second of the evening on 39 minutes when Harrison’s cross evaded its intended target of Dennis.
Instead it fell for the Republic of Ireland international, who chested the ball down and emphatically found the net.
There was an almost instant fifth goal, as DENNIS rounded off an impressive first half display by receiving Harrison’s pass, spinning past the last defender and coolly finishing.
Jackett changed his entire team at the break, but that did not stop the goals from flowing in the second half.
EVANS became the fourth different scorer of the contest, with a blocked pass bouncing back to him and a powerful shot striking the underside of the crossbar before finding the net.
PITMAN then got his first on the hour mark, capitalising on some slack defending to take a touch and find the target from close range.
He might have earlier scored in more acrobatic fashion, but a scorpion-style attempt narrowly cleared the bar.
Murphy was being continually called into action, getting down low to save first from Anton Walkes and then deny Evans at the near post.
But an eighth goal did arrive, with PITMAN picking the defence’s pocket following an Evans cross to double his personal tally.
Teenage full-back HANCOTT – playing a more advanced role – was next to score, being quickest to react when Pitman was denied by Murphy.
The travelling Blues fans wanted 10 and skipper PITMAN duly obliged by completing a 20-minute treble.
Aaron McGrath took too much time over clearing the ball, allowing the striker to steal possession and bend it around Murphy.
The scoring was finally complete six minutes from the end, with UCD unable to clear under pressure and CLOSE emphatically finishing.
Pompey’s run of friendlies continues at Westleigh Park on Saturday when they take on neighbours Havant & Waterlooville (3pm kick-off).
UCD: Kearns; Tobin, Farrell, McEvoy, McClelland; Doyle (c), Keaney; O’Farrell, Kinsella-Bishop; Dignam; Mahdy
Subs: Murphy, Griffin, Mullen, Akinsete, Daly, Ring, Ryan, Boore, Keane, Smith, McGrath
Pompey: MacGillivray (Bass 46); Bolton (Walkes 46), Downing (Burgess 46), Raggett (Casey 46), Brown (Haunstrup 46); Naylor (c) (Morris 46), McCrorie (Close 46); Lowe (Evans 46), Dennis (Cannon 46), Curtis (Hancott 46); Harrison (Pitman 46)
Goals: Curtis 10, 39, Lowe 16, Dennis 24, 41, Evans 49, Pitman 60, 76, 80, Hancott 78, Close 84
Referee: David Dunne
But the result means that their fate is now out of their own hands, as second-placed Barnsley beat Blackpool.
Tom Flanagan had headed the hosts into an early lead in front of more than 41,000 spectators at the Stadium of Light.
Lowe was on hand to level midway through the first half, however, and Craig MacGillivray made several fine saves to keep the Black Cats at bay.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that beat Coventry on home soil on Easter Monday.
Former Sunderland striker James Vaughan was handed his first start, while Ronan Curtis also returned, as Oli Hawkins and Gareth Evans dropped to the bench.
It was the hosts who made the brighter start and an acrobatic effort from Lewis Morgan had to be turned on to the post by MacGillivray.
But the keeper could do nothing to prevent the Black Cats from breaking the deadlock on nine minutes.
Max Power sent a free-kick into the box from wide on the right and Flanagan rose highest to head it home.
There were plenty of meaty challenges flying in during a competitive encounter, with Aiden McGeady and George Honeyman booked for the visitors.
Nathan Thompson and Ben Close were also shown yellow cards during the first half, as neither side held back.
Pompey grew into the contest as time passed, although a cross from Curtis was comfortably claimed by Jon McLaughlin.
And an equaliser came on 24 minutes, as Brett Pitman’s delivery was nodded against the bar by Lee Brown and the ball landed for LOWE to slot home.
Tempers then boiled over once more, leading to some pushing and shoving, but referee Craig Pawson soon calmed things down.
The visitors had the ball in the net again when Curtis looked to capitalise on a corner not being properly dealt with, but it was disallowed for a shove on McLaughlin.
Thompson then came to the rescue, quickly coming across to divert the ball behind after it had fallen kindly for McGeady.
And both sides had chances to take the lead during five minutes of stoppage-time, as the first half ended with a flourish.
First, Charlie Wyke met a cross from Luke O’Nien at the back post, only for MacGillivray to make a fine save from point-blank range.
A Curtis free-kick then led to a spot of pinball in the Black Cats box, but the hosts were eventually able to clear.
It was Sunderland that had the first opportunity following the restart, although MacGillivray dealt with Morgan’s effort.
But it had turned into quite a cagey contest, with neither side looking as threatening as they had before the break.
Jackett made his first switch just before the hour mark, as Vaughan – to a chorus of boos from the home fans – was replaced by Hawkins.
There were still not an abundance of clear-cut openings, but Thompson made a fine challenge to dispossess Wyke inside the box.
A second substitution then followed for the visitors, with Evans taking Curtis’ position wide on the left.
Sunderland, meanwhile, brought on former Fratton loanee Chris Maguire and his shot was deflected into MacGillivray’s arms.
Pompey were not having too much luck at the other end, with Christian Burgess unable to make a clean connection with Evans’ corner.
Power went close for the hosts on 79 minutes, however, only to see his fierce attempt kept out by another fine MacGillivray stop.
The Black Cats were starting to ramp up the pressure and Burgess made two key blocks in quick succession, before MacGillivray denied Will Grigg.
But the Blues saw out the closing stages to secure a point that could yet prove crucial in the race for promotion.
Sunderland (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; O’Nien (Matthews 90), Ozturk, Flanagan, Oviedo; Cattermole, Power; Morgan (Grigg 69), Honeyman (c) (Maguire 60), McGeady; Wyke
Goals: Flanagan 9
Booked: McGeady, Honeyman
Subs not used: Ruiter, Leadbitter, Dunne, Gooch
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close; Lowe, Pitman (c), Curtis (Evans 66); Vaughan (Hawkins 57)
Goals: Lowe 24
Booked: Thompson, Close, Pitman
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Haunstrup, Morris, Solomon-Otabor
Referee: Craig Pawson
Attendance: 41,129 (3,222 Pompey fans)
And with rivals Sunderland losing to Coventry in a nine-goal thriller, it means the sides – along with Barnsley – bunched even tighter in the table.
Oli Hawkins headed the opener at a packed Fratton Park, with Brett Pitman adding a penalty just before the break.
Aaron Wilbraham raised hopes of a Dale comeback early in the second half, but Evans came off the bench to calm fears before Jamal Lowe wrapped up a sixth successive win.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that won at Wycombe seven days earlier.
A fully-fit Ronan Curtis replaced Evans wide on the left, while Louis Dennis’ goal for the reserves earlier in the week saw him named among the substitutes.
The hosts started brightly in the spring sunshine and looked to get at their opponents right from the off.
Lowe was unable to force the ball home from a tight angle, while a cross from Curtis was just too high for Hawkins.
But as the sun went behind the clouds, Pompey also faded slightly and when Craig MacGillivray failed to hold a Callum Camps corner, Tom Naylor was forced to hack clear.
Matt Done then sent a dangerous delivery into the mixer, although a well-placed Ian Henderson headed it wide.
The Blues soon picked things up, however, and Hawkins should have done better than divert Lee Brown’s free-kick into the arms of a grateful Josh Lillis.
But HAWKINS did find the target midway through the first half, arriving at the near post to firmly head home Lowe’s cross.
Lowe might have doubled the advantage moments later, only for Lillis to come racing from his line to make the save.
Rochdale then had an opportunity of his own, when Wilbraham beat MacGillivray to a Christian Burgess pass, but could not beat the keeper.
It was the Blues looking the more likely to add to the scoring, though, and Hawkins nodded narrowly over after meeting Brown’s delivery.
He then saw another header saved by Lillis, while Ben Close had an attempt blocked as the hosts continued to apply pressure.
And it paid off just before the break when Nathan Thompson collected Lowe’s threaded pass and was crudely brought down in the box by Ethan Ebanks-Landell.
Referee Lee Swabey had no choice but to point to the spot and PITMAN calmly sent Lillis the wrong way to give Pompey a commanding interval lead.
The visitors looked brighter immediately following the restart, although Jim McNulty’s header was never going to prove much of a test for MacGillivray.
But Pompey were still looking dangerous going forward themselves and were causing plenty of problems for Dale to deal with.
One attack actually led to a goal for the opposition, however, with a quick break up the pitch ending with Done squaring for Wilbraham to slot into the net.
Pompey immediately looked to hit back and a long-range curling effort from Pitman was pushed behind by Lilllis.
The resulting corner almost provided a goal, with Burgess nodding it into the mixer and – in a sea of bodies – the ball eventually being hacked clear.
Jackett soon made a substitution, with Curtis – who had been quiet on the left – making way for Evans.
And it was EVANS who restored the two-goal lead just past the hour mark, nodding home from a few yards out after Lowe had lifted the ball into the centre.
Pompey were searching for a more convincing scoreline and a Brown cross was just out of reach for Lowe, while a rushed Hawkins effort was comfortable for Lillis.
They were starting to sit a bit too deep in the closing stages, though, and Jackett tried to add fresh impetus by replacing Hawkins with Omar Bogle.
But it was a Rochdale sub who had a chance to score moments later, although Bradden Inman slipped as he got his shot away and MacGillivray saved low to his left.
And Pompey immediately wrapped things up at the other end, as LOWE collected Matt Clarke’s long pass, held off one challenge and got past Lillis before firing the ball into the net.
Jackett’s final change saw Bryn Morris come on for Pitman, although it was fellow substitute Bogle whose effort had to be clawed away by Lillis.
Brown should have given the scoreline an added gloss late on, but glanced Lowe’s delivery wide with the goal gaping.
It mattered not, however, as Pompey had comfortably done enough to extend their winning run and move to within two points of second place.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close; Lowe, Pitman (c) (Morris 82), Curtis (Evans 57); Hawkins (Bogle 76)
Goals: Hawkins 21, Pitman 45+1 (pen), Evans 62, Lowe 79
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Haunstrup, Dennis
Rochdale (4-2-3-1): Lillis; McLaughlin, Ebanks-Landell, McNulty, Bunney (MJ Williams 67); Camps, Hamilton; Done (Inman 75), Henderson (c), Rathbone (Clough 80); Wilbraham
Goals: Wilbraham 54
Booked: Wilbraham, Ebanks-Landell, Bunney
Subs not used: Wade, Keohane, Dooley, Andrew
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 18,197 (188 away fans)
They dominated most of the contest, with Jamal Lowe’s early finish added to by a Brett Pitman goal just after the interval.
Marcus Bean controversially reduced the deficit for the Chairboys, only for a fine free-kick from Pitman to restore the Blues’ commanding advantage.
A super strike from Scott Kashket ensured a nervy end to proceedings, but the visitors held on to secure the points.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that beat Sunderland to lift the Checkatrade Trophy the previous week.
Oli Hawkins – who had struck the winning penalty in the shoot-out – was rewarded with a start, with Gareth Evans also returning, as Omar Bogle and Ronan Curtis dropped to the bench.
There were plenty of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Blues academy graduate Paris Cowan-Hall joining former Fratton loanees Ryan Allsop and Bean in the Wanderers team.
Pompey came racing out of the traps and won a series of early corners that kept the home defence on their toes.
The visitors were enjoying plenty of possession and territorial advantage, without being able to test Allsop between the sticks.
Pitman did well to race past Dominic Gape down the right and square for Lowe, who spun sharply and curled a shot over.
Another neat move saw Hawkins find Lowe with a cross-field pass and the winger laid the ball off for Pitman to fire just off target.
Allsop was then called into action for the first time, although was not overly troubled by a drilled effort from Lee Brown.
He could do nothing to stop Pompey from taking the lead on 18 minutes, however, as they finally made their pressure count.
A free-kick from Evans was not properly dealt with and when Matt Clarke lifted the ball back into the box, LOWE was there to drill it through a sea of bodies and into the net.
They did not sit back on their lead, though, and a shot from Ben Close was blocked after Tom Naylor had stolen possession.
Wycombe had offered little at the other end of the pitch, but had two great chances to level before the break.
The first opportunity came from a 25-yard free-kick after Alex Samuel had been fouled by Christian Burgess and Craig MacGillivray flung himself to the left to push behind Jason McCarthy’s attempt.
And the keeper made another fine save moments later, this time to keep out a fierce strike from Cowan-Hall.
But Pompey might have extended their advantage in stoppage-time, as Clarke teed-up Lowe for a curling shot that was well saved by Allsop.
Wycombe Wanderers 0
A second goal did arrive just 27 seconds after the restart, however, as Evans played a dangerous ball down the middle.
Anthony Stewart looked like he would deal with it, but PITMAN nipped in to steal the ball and confidently slot it home.
Rather then dent Wycombe’s confidence, though, it seemed to spark them into life and the hosts suddenly enjoyed a spell of pressure.
And they made the most of it by reducing the deficit through Bean’s close-range finish, although referee John Busby had a lengthy discussion with his assistant before allowing the goal to stand.
The Blues were adamant that the midfielder had been in an offside position, although the official seemed to think the ball had come off a white-shirted player.
It had been a frantic start to the second period and Pompey had a chance to restore their two-goal advantage when Evans was brought down by Stewart just outside the box.
PITMAN stepped up to take the free-kick and curled a fine effort past Allsop’s desperate grasp to spark more scenes of joy in the packed away end.
Both teams were looking capable of adding to the scoring as the action continued to switch from one end to the other.
Pitman’s pass was cleared before it could reach Clarke at the near post, while substitute Adebayo Akinfenwa headed over.
But it took another fine save from MacGillivray to deny the Chairboys on 72 minutes, with the keeper getting down to push clear Samuel’s shot.
Pitman received a standing ovation as he made way off the pitch, with Anton Walkes coming on for the closing stages.
It was the hosts cheering soon after, though, as Kashket reduced their deficit with a screaming shot from just inside that area that flew into the top corner.
Curtis then replaced Evans, as Jackett looked for his side to get back on track, although the Chairboys came close to a leveller when Samuel’s header flashed past the post.
Wycombe were given renewed hope when the fourth official displayed six minutes of time to be added on.
The hosts continued to try to pump the ball into the Blues box, but the visitors held firm to close the gap on second-placed Barnsley.
Wycombe (4-1-4-1): Allsop; McCarthy, El-Abd (c), Stewart, Harriman; Gape; Cowan-Hall (Kashket 74), Bean (Akinfenwa 61), Bloomfield (Thompson 43), Freeman; Samuel
Goals: Bean 54, Kashket 82
Subs not used: Ma-Kalambay, Jombati, Jacobson, Owens
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close; Lowe, Pitman (c) (Walkes 81), Evans (Curtis 84); Hawkins
Goals: Lowe 18, Pitman 46, 60
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Morris, Vaughan, Bogle
Referee: John Busby
Attendance: 6,978 (1,810 Pompey fans)
In the greater scheme of things it maybe a minor trophy but seeing you team at Wembley and lifting a trophy is never something to be taken lightly.
The added benefit of also taking away the one trophy Southampton had won that we hadn’t!
Transport was a nightmare, trains absolutely rammed full so Colin drove us to Horsham to try and get a train with some room on it which was a success.
Poor first half with Sunderland deserved leaders but what a turn around second half with the introduction of Gareth Evans and Oliver Hawkins. We thought we had won it with Jamal Lowe’s late extra time goal but as we have seen so many times we cannot defend or kill off the last few minutes of a game and so we faced the trauma of penalties and all five takers hit the spot.
Well done Portsmouth
Checkatrade Trophy – Final
They were poor in the first half and an Aiden McGeady free-kick meant the Black Cats deservedly led at the interval.
But the Blues were rejuvenated following the restart and Nathan Thompson levelled to ensure an additional 30 minutes.
Jamal Lowe then struck to seemingly secure the win, only for McGeady to scramble the ball home at the death.
That meant a dreaded shoot-out, but Pompey scored all of their spot-kicks, meaning that Craig MacGillivray’s save from Lee Cattermole allowed Oli Hawkins to fire home the winner.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that won at Shrewsbury in the league the previous week.
Ronan Curtis was fit enough to start after recovering from severing his finger, meaning that Gareth Evans dropped to the bench.
The teams emerged to a vociferous atmosphere created by a packed crowd at the national stadium.
Pompey’s contingent were whipped up by rousing pre-match speeches from former Fratton heroes David Norris and Hermann Hreidarsson.
But it was the Black Cats who made the brighter start, with Thompson forced to clear George Honeyman’s teasing cross behind.
Lee Brown then made a great challenge right in the corner to stop Lewis Morgan’s charge, as the side from the north-east looked threatening.
Lowe tried his best to cause problems at the other end, although a ball into the box flew straight into Jon McLaughlin’s grasp.
Sunderland were looking more likely to open the scoring and Matt Clarke threw himself in the path of McGeady’s strike.
Pompey’s best opportunity came when Omar Bogle was felled on the right and Brown swung the ball into the mixer.
Christian Burgess rose at the back post, but could not get enough power on his header to trouble McLaughlin.
An effort from Morgan was deflected behind by Brown, while a key Clarke challenge halted Will Grigg’s charge.
There was a rare shot for Pompey on 22 minutes, although Curtis’ effort was always swerving wide of the post.
Then, after Tom Naylor had conceded a free-kick, the midfielder had to nod behind Grant Leadbitter’s delivery.
Sunderland came close to breaking the deadlock soon after when the ball was only cleared as far as Morgan outside the box.
The winger hit a fierce volley that flew through a sea of bodies, but MacGillivray got down well to push the ball clear.
It was only a brief respite for the Blues, however, and they were undone after Thompson had conceded a foul.
McGeady was brought down and picked himself up to curl the ball home, albeit with the help of a deflection off Clarke’s shoulder.
Pompey tried to hit back after the break and when Bogle met a corner from Brown, his header was cleared from the line.
It would not have counted, though, as referee Dean Whitestone had spotted a foul on Luke O’Nien in the build-up.
The Blues were looking a lot brighter and trying to use Lowe as an outlet, but were still lacking a final ball.
Jackett tried to shake things up on 56 minutes, with Curtis being brought off and replaced by Evans on the left.
And it was a long pass from the newcomer that almost provided an equaliser just past the hour mark.
The ball was nodded down by Lowe and Pitman took one touch before hitting a neat half-volley that struck the base of the post.
Pompey were suddenly looking a real threat and when Sunderland failed to deal with another Evans delivery, Thompson was unable to find the target at the back post.
Lowe then had a great opportunity following good work from Pitman, but rolled his shot wastefully past the post.
Jackett made his second switch to the forward line on 69 minutes, as Bogle made way for Hawkins.
The striker was soon having his shirt tugged inside the area, although Whitestone did not think it was enough to warrant a penalty.
Evans then did well to hold off a challenge and burst forward, firing in a long-range strike that flashed past the post.
But Pompey did find themselves level on 82 minute – and the goal came from a very unlikely source.
THOMPSON had yet to score in 69 appearances, but certainly picked the right location to open his account, nodding home after Evans had collected the ball from Clarke and sent it into the box.
The Blues contingent of an EFL Trophy record crowd of 85,021 erupted as the players ran towards them in celebration.
It had been a dominant second half display, but Sunderland might have secured victory in stoppage-time when Denver Hume skipped through and sent a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
Full Time: Pompey 1 Sunderland 1
There were, unsurprisingly, a few tired legs on display at Wembley as the extra period of 30 minutes got started.
Pompey were still looking to get forward and Evans was tackled inside the box after playing a neat one-two with Brown.
Lowe then screwed a shot wide after Hawkins had laid the ball off, while an angled effort from Brown was comfortable for McLaughlin.
Following a brief break after the first set of 15 minutes, the Blues got straight back on the attack and Evans had a shot blocked after cutting in from the left.
Jackett was forced to make a change when Ben Close limped off and his replacement almost scored within seconds of coming on.
Anton Walkes received the ball on the edge of the box and his effort had to be clawed behind by McLaughlin.
But Pompey did go ahead on 114 minutes and it was a brilliant finish from LOWE, who collected a long Clarke pass and sent a glorious lob over McLaughlin and into the net.
The winger was booked for taking his shirt off in celebration, but it looked like being the decisive goal.
Sunderland had other ideas, however, and in the dying seconds McGeady scrambled home an equaliser, despite the best efforts of Clarke to clear from the line.
After Extra Time: Pompey 2 Sunderland 2
A penalty shoot-out is always a nervy occasion, but the Blues kept their nerve throughout, scoring all five of their spot-kicks.
Evans, Pitman, Brown and Lowe all tucked away their efforts, while Sunderland’s second from Cattermole was saved by MacGillivray.
It meant that Hawkins had the chance to win it for the Blues and he made no mistake, slotting the ball home to send the large travelling contingent home in joyous mood.
Pitman then led his side up the Wembley steps to collect the Checkatrade Trophy and send those fans wild with delight.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close (Walkes 113); Lowe, Pitman (c), Curtis (Evans 56); Bogle (Hawkins 69)
Goals: Thompson 82, Lowe 114
Booked: Curtis, Evans, Lowe
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, May, Vaughan
Sunderland (4-2-3-1): McLaughlin; O’Nien, Flanagan, Baldwin, James (Hume 88); Leadbitter (Wyke 95), Cattermole; Morgan (Gooch 73), Honeyman (c), McGeady; Grigg (Power 77)
Goals: McGeady 38, 119
Booked: Baldwin, McGeady
Subs not used: Ruiter, Dunne, McGeouch
Referee: Dean Whitestone
It was a dominant display from the Blues and there was a palpable sense of relief around the ground when Omar Bogle finally scored in the second half to make their dominance count.
Scunthorpe never looked like finding the net at the other end and the hosts made sure of the points thanks to a fine finish from Jamal Lowe late on.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that won at Walsall earlier in the week, with skipper Brett Pitman playing just behind Bogle.
But with James Vaughan having not recovered from a back injury, Lloyd Isgrove took his place on the bench.
It was a blustery afternoon on the south coast, with the conditions clearly making life difficult for both sides.
So it was perhaps understandable that the passing on show was wayward at best in the opening exchanges.
Lowe and Viv Solomon-Otabor were looking lively on the wings, however, and the former had an effort that sailed narrowly over.
It was pretty quiet at the other end of the pitch, although a tame effort from Tony McMahon flew comfortably into Craig MacGillivray’s arms.
Bogle had a couple of shots blocked, but the first decent opening did not arrive until 26 minutes had been played.
Solomon-Otabor threaded a fine pass through to Lowe, who took the ball around Iron keeper Jak Alnwick, but – from a tight angle – could not force it past defender Harrison McGahey.
Pompey were enjoying plenty of possession and applying pressure on the visitors’ defence as the first half progressed.
And they almost broke the deadlock just before the interval after Solomon-Otabor’s delivery was only cleared as far as Bogle.
He managed to dig out a shot that Alnwick did well to save and when Pitman put the ball back into the centre, a stretching Lowe could not make a clean connection with the goal gaping.
Solomon-Otabor then slipped off the ball and required treatment on the pitch, but was okay to continue.
It was only a brief return to action for the loanee, though, who soon had to make way for Gareth Evans.
Scunthorpe United 0
The substitute had the first chance of the second half with a drilled effort from the edge of the box that was deflected past the post.
He then hit another 20-yard effort narrowly wide after the ball had been worked to him from a throw.
Clear-cut openings were proving to be at a premium, although Alnwick leapt out a bending Lee Brown attempt on the hour mark.
A longer-range strike from Tom Naylor then fizzed past the post, as the hosts continued to dominate without really going close to scoring.
Pompey were trying their best to raise the tempo – with the wind still swirling around the ground – and Brown was denied what would have been a soft penalty for an apparent push.
Alnwick did well to stop his side falling behind on 68 minutes, tearing off his line to bravely prevent Lowe from converting Evans’ ball into the box.
But the Blues finally made their pressure count moments later following a foul on Lowe by Rory McArdle.
Evans’ free-kick was flicked on for Close, but BOGLE took the ball and spun sharply before leaving Alnwick flat-footed with his finish.
The hosts tried to put the result beyond doubt and Brown’s cross was just too high for Pitman, while the left-back then saw a shot deflected behind.
Bogle received a warm reception as he made his way off the pitch to be replaced by Oli Hawkins for the final few minutes.
And the win was wrapped up on 87 minutes when LOWE collected the ball from the right, used his touch to make space and then lashed home a fine finish.
It meant that the Fratton faithful could relax for the closing stages, as Pompey comfortably saw the game out.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close; Lowe, Pitman (c) (Donohue 89), Solomon-Otabor (Evans 45+2); Bogle (Hawkins 85)
Goals: Bogle 71, Lowe 87
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Haunstrup, Isgrove
Scunthorpe (3-4-1-2): Alnwick; McGahey, McArdle (c), Burgess; McMahon (Hammill 74), Perch, Ojo, Pearce; Thomas (Lewis 78); Wootton (Olomola 76), Novak
Subs not used: Flatt, Butroid, Webster, Hallam
Referee: Peter Wright
Attendance: 17,308 (198 away fans)
Gareth Evans got the ball rolling from the penalty spot, while Tom Naylor ensured the interval lead was a comfortable one.
Hope Akpan did reduce the deficit for the struggling Bantams, only for Jamal Lowe to immediately restore the two-goal advantage.
Ben Close then ensured the scoreline received a gloss by adding a brace to cap a fine individual display.
The downside for the Blues were injuries suffered by Oli Hawkins, Ronan Curtis, Matt Clarke and Nathan Thompson – the latter two following a clash of heads.
Throw in a delay while a drone flew over the ground and it was certainly an eventful afternoon on the south coast.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that won at Bury to reach the Checkatrade Trophy final earlier in the week.
Lowe came in for Viv Solomon-Otabor out wide, with Christian Burgess making a quicker than expected return from an ankle injury.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of Division Three title-winner Bobby Doyle, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.
The start of the first half was a disjointed affair, with neither goalkeeper being called into action during the early stages.
Hawkins did almost break the deadlock on six minutes, stooping to head against the post after Evans had lifted the ball into the mixer.
Close then swivelled neatly inside the box moments later, although failed to guide his shot on target.
Those opportunities aside, it was not exactly proving to be a flowing contest, but Pompey started to dominate as the game progressed.
They were handed an excellent chance to open the scoring midway through the half when Oliver Langford pointed to the spot.
Evans had sent a corner into the box and with Hawkins being hauled to the ground by Anthony O’Connor, the referee had no choice.
It was EVANS who stepped up to take the penalty and confidently slammed his penalty into the top corner.
The traffic was mostly one-way from that point, with Hawkins proving to be a particular menace to the Bantams back-line.
He played a fine pass through to Curtis on 34 minutes, but the ball got stuck under the forward’s feet and Lowe’s effort was blocked.
And their pressure paid off late in the half when the advantage was doubled, courtesy of another Evans corner.
It was flapped at by Richard O’Donnell and the ball fell for Curtis, whose strike cannoned off the underside of the bar.
The forward thought it had crossed the line, but there was no signal from the officials and NAYLOR followed up to slot home.
Bradford City 0
Pompey continued to look bright once the action restarted and Clarke glanced an Evans corner past the post.
But there was a bizarre incident just past the hour mark, when the referee called both sets of players to the sidelines.
Everybody was looking up in the air and there was a drone hovering overhead, but it eventually flew off and the action was able to restart.
It was the Bantams who were next to go close, with Craig MacGillivray doing well to palm over Akpan’s drive.
But Akpan did score from the resulting corner, driving the ball into the net after Kelvin Mellor’s had headed the ball into his path
Pompey’s response was immediate and when Lee Brown whipped a dangerous cross into the box, LOWE got down to convert with his chest.
But Hawkins had picked up an injury and was withdrawn by James Vaughan – not that it stopped the hosts’ momentum.
They soon had a fourth goal, as Evans met a delivery from Curtis with a half-volley that was turned into the net by CLOSE.
There was more injury concern for the Blues following a sickening clash of heads between Clarke and Nathan Thompson.
Both medical teams were quickly on the case and the right-back was withdrawn for Anton Walkes, with Clarke carrying on after getting bandaged up.
Pompey continued to attack and almost increased their lead, only for O’Donnell to tip over Lowe’s fierce drive.
A bloodied Clarke was struggling, however, and Jackett made his final change by bringing him off for Dion Donohue.
The action continued at a breathless pace and the hosts did have a fifth goal on 87 minutes, with Curtis’ pass being cut out, but the ball breaking for CLOSE to fire into the bottom corner.
The various injuries and drone interruption meant there were 10 minutes of stoppage-time displayed by the fourth official.
And Pompey finished the contest with 10 men, as Curtis pulled up while chasing the ball and hobbled off the pitch.
But the final moments passed by incident-free, as the Blues brought an impressive week to a close by collecting all three points.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): MacGillivray; Thompson (Walkes 77), Burgess, Clarke (Donohue 84), Brown; Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c), Close, Curtis; Hawkins (Vaughan 69)
Goals: Evans 23 (pen), Naylor 41, Lowe 67, Close 70, 87
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Solomon-Otabor, Pitman
Bradford (4-2-3-1): O’Donnell; Caddis (c) (Mellor 46), O’Connor, Knight-Percival, Wood (Miller 62); Akpan, Butterfield; Ball, Payne (Clarke 72), O’Brien; Doyle
Goals: Akpan 65
Booked: Caddis, Knight-Percival
Subs not used: Wilson, Anderson, Maltby, Patrick
Referee: Oliver Langford
Attendance: 17,657 (493 away fans)
It looked like a comfortable afternoon might be on the cards for the league leaders when Jamal Lowe gave them an early lead.
But the hosts missed some decent chances to extend their lead and a stunning strike from Kwesi Appiah brought the Dons level.
That seemed to spark the Blues back into life, though, and Ronan Curtis soon headed them back in front to secure the win.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that won convincingly at Fleetwood at the weekend.
Oli Hawkins recovered from an ankle problem to replace Brett Pitman up front, while Brandon Haunstrup came in for the injured Lee Brown at left-back.
The other switch saw Ben Close make way for Gareth Evans, who was rested for the final game of 2018 at Highbury.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of former Pompey and Hampshire cricket star Mike Barnard, who sadly passed away before Christmas.
It was a quiet start to the contest, both on and off the pitch – with some New Year revelries perhaps explaining the muted atmosphere in the opening stages.
But the noise levels soon grew, as the hosts took the lead with the first proper chance of the game on eight minutes.
Curtis collected a cross-field pass from Anton Walkes and fired in a low shot that was saved by Tom King.
But the keeper could not keep hold of the ball and LOWE was quick to capitalise, dinking a neat finish into the net.
Pompey were dominating possession, but there was not an abundance on clear-cut opportunities to excite a sell-out crowd.
Ben Thompson wasted a decent opening, swiping at thing air after Walkes’ ball into the box had been laid off by Evans.
A couple of other dangerous moments from the hosts were ended by an offside flag, as the Dons struggled to find a foothold in the game.
Lowe was proving a particular nuisance and after showing some nifty footwork inside the box, saw his low shot saved by King.
His clever chipped pass into the box then had to be nodded away by Terell Thomas before Thompson could capitalise.
The visitors finally threatened just before the break when former Pompey winger Andy Barcham burst clear, but a superb Jack Whatmough challenge inside the box halted his progress.
AFC Wimbledon 0
It was still a fairly sedate affair once the action restarted and a wayward header from Mitch Pinnock was not going to trouble Craig MacGillivray.
Kwesi Appiah was then perhaps fortunate to avoid a booking following a late challenge on Matt Clarke, with the Blues defender quickly back up on his feet.
But the hosts should have doubled their lead on 54 minutes, as a fine Lowe pass sent Curtis through on goal, only for the Republic of Ireland international to drag his shot wide.
Curtis was soon back to his best, however, stealing possession and cutting the ball back for Evans, whose side-footed effort was kept out by King.
Wimbledon tried to make Pompey pay for those missed chances and suddenly enjoyed a spell of pressure.
But one strike from Anthony Hartigan flew high over the crossbar, while another was straight at MacGillivray.
It was the visitors on top, though, and Jackett made a double change on 69 minutes to try to negate their threat.
Evans and Hawkins were the men to make way, with Close and Pitman adding fresh legs to the midfield and forward line respectively.
But it was Lowe who had a chance to doubled the lead, only to head a Curtis cross wide from just a few yards out.
And the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy when Appiah unleashed a superb long-range strike that left MacGillivray helpless.
Thompson had a shot blocked as Pompey went back on the attack, while an effort from Curtis was comfortably dealt with by King.
But CURTIS did restore their lead moments later, rising above his man in the box to nod home a great cross from Thompson.
The Dons threw men forward in an attempt to equalise for a second time, but Pompey saw out the closing stages to start the year on a high.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup; B.Thompson (Burgess 90+4), Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c) (Close 69), Curtis; Hawkins (Pitman 69)
Goals: Lowe 8, Curtis 80
Subs not used: Bass, Donohue, Wheeler, Green
AFC Wimbledon (4-1-4-1): King; Watson, Kalambayi, Thomas, Purrington (Garratt 83); Nightingale (c); Pinnock, Wordsworth, Hartigan (Egan 73), Barcham (Jervis 87); Appiah
Goals: Appiah 75
Subs not used: McDonnell, Sibbick, Trotter, Wood
Referee: Antony Coggins
Attendance: 18,732 (634 away fans)
Ben Thompson’s stunning strike gave them the lead, only for Paddy Madden and a Ched Evans penalty to see the hosts ahead at the break.
But Dean Marney’s red card for two bookable offences proved crucial – and the Blues took advantage.
Brett Pitman levelled with another spot-kick and a first goal of the season from Anton Walkes ensured they retook the lead.
It was left to Jamal Lowe to wrap things up with a brace that ensures Pompey will welcome in 2019 at the top of the table.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that suffered a first defeat on the road at Gillingham on Boxing Day.
Two of them were enforced, with Walkes and skipper Pitman replacing Nathan Thompson (hamstring) and Oli Hawkins (ankle) respectively.
The other switch came in the middle of the park, where former Fleetwood star Gareth Evans made way for Ben Close.
That meant a switch to a 4-3-3 system, with Lowe and Ronan Curtis flanking Pitman in the forward line.
The hosts had a great opportunity in the opening stages, but Evans’ header was held low down to his left by Craig MacGillivray.
Pompey soon started to settle and Close was unable to make a clean connection with his shot, allowing Alex Cairns to save.
But the Cod Army keeper made an even better stop soon after, keeping out a volleyed effort from Matt Clarke after the defender’s first attempt had been blocked.
The visitors then received a blow when Lee Brown went down injured and had to come off, with Brandon Haunstrup replacing him at left-back.
There was reason to celebrate for the travelling supporters on 26 minutes, however, as their side took the lead.
It was a fine finish from THOMPSON, whose fierce effort from outside the box struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced down over the line.
Close might have doubled the lead, but could not get enough power on his header from a Lowe cross to trouble Cairns.
Instead it was Fleetwood who were next to score on 39 minutes, when Madden raced in to meet Lewie Coyle’s cut-back and arrow a first time shot right into the bottom corner.
And it soon got even worse for the Blues as Madden fired past the post, but went down after colliding with Clarke and, following a lengthy pause, referee Matt Donohue pointed to the spot.
It was Evans who stepped up to take the penalty, sending MacGillivray the wrong way to turn the contest on its head.
Pompey might have levelled deep into stoppage-time, only for Ross Wallace to clear behind and prevent Lowe from converting Curtis’ delivery at the back post.
Fleetwood Town 2
The Blues were quickly out of the traps following the interval, but when a corner was cleared, Haunstrup fired wildly off target.
Hopes were raised soon after, though, when Marney fouled Thompson and – having earlier been booked for a challenge on Curtis – saw red.
A cross from Haunstrup was then hacked to safety, as Walkes raced into the box to try to make contact.
Jackett soon made an attacking switch, with Evans brought on to provide more of a goal threat and Close withdrawn.
But it was two other players who provided the drama that saw the Blues score twice in as many minutes to take the lead.
Donohue pointed to the spot for the second time after Curtis was brought down by Ross Wallace and PITMAN confidently slammed home the spot-kick.
It soon got even better, though, as the Cod Army failed to deal with a Curtis cross and WALKES bent a shot into the top corner with his left foot.
The action did not stop there, however, and MacGillivray kept out Wes Burns’ free-kick, then quickly recovered to keep out James Wallace’s follow-up effort.
There was a period of calm after that, although Pompey were not content to sit back and Curtis continued to torment the home defence.
But they were lucky to still be ahead when, following a Fleetwood corner, both Madden and James Wallace struck the post.
Tom Naylor then hacked the ball clear from the line before Pompey went up the other end to wrap things up.
LOWE collected a pass from Curtis and held off two challenges, turning neatly to sneak a low shot inside the near post.
And it soon got even better for the Blues, as LOWE raced on to Thompson’s fine pass and lashed home their fifth goal of an eventful afternoon.
Andre Green came on for Curtis in the closing stages, but the visitors were unable to grant the wishes of the travelling fans, who chanted ‘we want six’.
Clarke came closest to adding another, but his header was well saved by Cairns. It mattered not, as Pompey had done more than enough to ensure they would end the year at the summit.
Fleetwood (4-4-2): Cairns; Coyle, Morgan (c), Eastham, R.Wallace; Burns (Dempsey 63), Marney, Biggins (Bolger 79), Hunter (J.Wallace 54); Madden, Evans
Goals: Madden 39, Evans 43 (pen)
Sent off: Marney (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Jones, Sheron, Holt, McAleny,
Pompey (4-3-3): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown (Haunstrup 19); B.Thompson, Naylor, Close (Evans 53); Lowe, Pitman (c), Curtis (Green 90)
Goals: Thompson 26, Pitman 57 (pen), Walkes 58, Lowe 81, 84
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Wheeler, Mason
Referee: Matt Donohue
Attendance: 3,494 (853 Pompey fans)
Michael Turner gave them a helping hand with an early own-goal, while Jamal Lowe wrapped things up before the break with a header.
There were chances to extend the lead even further, but the Blues could still be pretty content with their afternoon’s work.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that progressed in the FA Cup at Rochdale the previous week.
Tom Naylor had recovered from a minor groin problem and replaced Ben Close in the centre of midfield.
Harry Bunn and Simon Cox both had half-chances for the visitors in the opening stages, but after that Pompey were in almost total control throughout the first half.
The conditions were certainly making life difficult, with strong winds swirling rain around the ground.
It did not seem to affect the Blues that much, though, and after playing a neat one-two with Oli Hawkins, Ronan Curtis saw his shot ricochet off Taylor Moore and into the arms of Mark Oxley.
They did break the deadlock on 11 minutes, although received a helping hand, with TURNER inadvertently turning Curtis’ delivery into his own net.
Matt Clarke perhaps should have doubled the lead after being found in space by Curtis, but nodded over the bar.
Hawkins also went close to scoring when he met Clarke’s lofted pass and guided a header inches past the post.
Instead it was LOWE who gave the hosts a cushion, leaping to connect with yet another Curtis cross and sending the ball into the net off the post.
There were cries for a penalty just before the break when Lowe’s pass struck Luke Hyam on the arm, but referee Lee Collins decided it was not enough to warrant pointing to the spot.
Southend United 0
Pompey continued to look comfortable following the restart, although there was, unsurprisingly, not so much urgency in their attacking play.
Curtis did find space to burst through the centre and his thunderous strike had to be beaten away by Oxley.
The Shrimpers enjoyed a spell of possession as the second half progressed, but the home defence were making sure that Craig MacGillivray was untested.
A second penalty request was then turned down just before the hour mark, with Nathan Thompson getting eased off the ball after collecting a threaded Naylor pass.
It was proving to be pretty tame fare as Pompey continued to just ease their way through the contest.
Even when MacGillivray failed to hold on to a corner, he did enough to get the ball clear enough for it to be hacked to safety.
Southend finally went close to scoring on 70 minutes, but Stephen McLaughlin’s effort was deflected past the post.
Close was brought on for the Blues and almost scored with his first touch, although was unable to divert Lowe’s centre on target.
And Ben Thompson then saw his free-kick parried clear by Oxley, with Clarke unable to convert the loose ball after taking a heavy first touch.
It was still the hosts on top as the seconds ticked down and the final whistle was met by a roar of approval from the stands.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor; Lowe, B.Thompson (Pitman 89), Evans (c) (Close 73), Curtis; Hawkins
Goals: Turner 11 (og), Lowe 29
Subs not used: McGee, Walkes, Burgess, Dennis, Green
Southend (4-2-3-1): Oxley; Moore, White, Turner (Hendrie 46), Bwomono; Mantom (c) (Yearwood 71), Hyam McLaughlin, Dieng, Bunn (Robinson 64); Cox
Booked: Hyam, Moore, White
Subs not used: Bishop, Hutchinson, Kightly, McCoulsky
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 18,062 (726 away fans)
FA Cup 1
But the National League strugglers made the Blues work hard for their opening goal at York Road, with Ben Thompson finally netting just before the break.
It was less of a struggle in the second half, though, with Oli Hawkins, Jamal Lowe and David Wheeler all finding the target.
Kenny Jackett made a single change from the side that won at Bradford in the league the previous week.
Nathan Thompson – back from a one-match ban – replaced Anton Walkes at right-back, with the visitors clearly taking the game seriously.
Gareth Evans skippered the side on his 150th appearance for the club, while former Pompey striker Ryan Bird was among the Maidenhead substitutes.
Both captain’s laid a wreath on the pitch before kick-off and the teams wore poppies on their shirts, while a minute’s silence was held to commemorate Remembrance weekend.
When the action got underway, it was Pompey who dominated possession without being able to carve open many clear-cut chances.
Carl Pentney was being well protected, although the keeper comfortably claimed a Hawkins effort before punching clear under pressure from the same player.
The first noteworthy incident came on 18 minutes, when the tricky Ronan Curtis got free down the right and crossed for Hawkins, whose header was deflected behind.
And they should really have forged ahead midway through the first half, with Tom Naylor the guilty party.
He failed to connect with an ambitious over-head attempt, but when Evans’ shot was parried into his path moments later, the midfielder turned the ball against the crossbar from a few yards out.
Maidenhead then came close to scoring again soon after, with Ayo Obileye’s strike crashing against the post.
Remy Clerima was also causing problems with a series of long throws, while Nathan Thompson was unable to beat Pentney from a tight angle at the other end.
Pompey won a succession of corners as the half progressed and the heavens opened, although were being frustrated in their attempts to test Pentney.
But the deadlock was finally broken just before the interval, as Curtis whipped in a low cross and Ben THOMPSON fired home to open his account for the club.
Maidenhead United 0
The second half was slow to really click into gear, although it was still the Blues seeing most of the ball.
And they doubled their lead on 55 minutes, with Evans crossing from the right and HAWKINS sending a header looping over Pentney and into the net.
That gave the visitors a cushion, but their lead was even more comfortable when a third went in on the hour mark.
Ben Thompson sent a free-kick into the box and Jack Whatmough nodded the ball down for LOWE, who turned and sent a neat finish into the bottom corner.
Jackett decided the time was right to make a double change, with Lowe and Evans withdrawn for Brett Pitman and Wheeler.
Pompey’s play was more patient with such a commanding advantage, but they were still looking to get forward.
And when they were unable to find a path through the Magpies defence, Ben Thompson hit a long-range shot that was saved by Pentney.
The keeper also kept out a header from Pitman after he had been spotted in the box by Lee Brown.
Pompey’s captain also fired a shot narrowly over the bar after Nathan Thompson won the ball back when a fine passing move came to an end.
The same duo combined again moments later and this time Pentney was forced into a decent save low to his left to keep out Pitman’s sweet first time strike.
But it was WHEELER who wrapped things up on 83 minutes, stooping to head home after Brown’s free-kick had been superbly saved.
There was still time for Pitman to steer narrowly wide following a mad scramble in the box, but the visitors could be happy with their afternoon’s work.
Maidenhead (4-1-4-1): Pentney; Clerima, Kilgour, Massey (c), Steer; Obileye; Odametey, Comley (Owusu 54), Clifton (Bird 67), Upward (Akintunde 46); Kelly
Subs not used: Hamann, Mulley, Alves, Worsfold
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson (Burgess 85), Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; B.Thompson, Naylor; Lowe (Pitman 63), Evans (c) (Wheeler 63), Curtis; Hawkins
Goals: B.Thompson 43, Hawkins 55, Lowe 60, Wheeler 83
Subs not used: McGee, Haunstrup, Close, Dennis
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 3,205 (710 Pompey fans)