May 062017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 6 – 1 Cheltenham Town

 

We are CHAMPIONS!

Pompey thrashed Cheltenham 6-1 to secure the League Two title on a memorable afternoon on the south coast.

They became only the fifth team to win all four divisions after both Plymouth and Doncaster failed to secure three points.

Daniel O’Shaughnessy’s own-goal opened the scoring at Fratton Park, but the lead was a slender one at the break.

It all changed in the second half, however, as Kyle Bennett, Jamal Lowe and Gareth Evans found the target – the latter from the penalty spot – while Kal Naismith bagged a brace.

Fans then flooded onto the pitch at full-time to begin a party that will likely last for quite a while.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that won at Mansfield the previous week, meaning that it was Conor Chaplin who again led the line.

But it was a Robins player who inadvertently gave the hosts a welcome lead with just 13 minutes on the clock.

Enda Stevens – who collected The News/Sports Mail Player of the Season award before kick-off – delivered a low cross that O’Shaughnessy deflected into his own net.

Chaplin had a chance to double the advantage soon after, but his fierce drive was kept out by Scott Brown.

Cheltenham were not creating too much at the other end, although David Forde got down to his left to keep out Harry Pell’s effort.

The Blues were looking more threatening, meanwhile, and when a free-kick was played to Carl Baker, his curling shot was deflected inches past the post by the knee of Danny Wright.

The visitors grew stronger as the first half progressed and Forde made a comfortable save to deny Billy Waters.

Then, after the keeper did well to keep out Dan Holman’s strike, Danny Rowe curled the ball narrowly wide.

Bennett had a shot saved by Brown, while a stretching Chaplin could not quite reach Naismith’s centre.

But Cheltenham almost grabbed a leveller just before the interval, Dan Holman finding Rowe and the midfielder firing in a shot that was deflected narrowly over.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Cheltenham 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

There was also a great chance for the visitors moments after the restart, but Danny Wright could only head Kyle Storer’s cross wide from close range.

Holman then had a shot that was racing towards the net before Forde dived to his right to push the ball clear.

But the Blues almost had a second when Danny Rose unleashed a fierce volley that cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar.

Cook made a double switch just past the hour mark, with Baker and Chaplin making way for Lowe and Gary Roberts.

And Pompey soon doubled their advantage, as BENNETT fired in a shot that took a wicked deflection to leave Brown stranded.

That was the cue for the floodgates to open and, following a quick counter, Bennett slipped the ball through for NAISMITH to calmly slip home.

It was substitute LOWE who was next to get in on the act on 72 minutes when he found the bottom corner from a tight angle.

And when Roberts was tripped in the box by Liam Davis, referee Christopher Sarginson pointed to the spot, with EVANS stepping up to slam home the resulting penalty.

The fans were celebrating in the stands with news coming through that both Doncaster and Plymouth were being held.

Pompey had certainly done their job, although Cheltenham pulled a goal back through substitute James Dayton.

That failed to stop the hosts’ attacking charge, however, and Bennett’s strike was superbly saved by Brown.

NAISMITH did grab a sixth goal on 85 minutes, with Michael Doyle sending a ball over the top and Pompey’s top scorer calmly slotting into the net.

All the attention now was to what was happening at Grimsby and Hartlepool, with plenty of fingernails being chewed.

Fans ran onto the pitch in celebration at the final whistle, with news filtering through that Plymouth could only draw.

And when Doncaster’s match at Hartlepool finished in defeat, it was confirmed that Pompey were League Two champions.

We’re on our way.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Aborah 71), M.Doyle; Baker (Lowe 61), Naismith, Bennett; Chaplin (Roberts 61)
Goals: O’Shaughnessy 13 (og), Bennett 62, Naismith 66, 85, Lowe 72, Evans 75 (pen)
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Linganzi , Lowe, Roberts, Kabamba

Cheltenham (4-4-2): Brown; Cranston (Barthram 66), O’Shaughnessy, Boyle, Davies; Pell (Dayton 54), Storer (c), Rowe, Waters; Wright, Holman (Munns 71)
Goals: Dayton 78
Booked: Storer
Subs not used: Kitscha, Winchester, Downes, Wootton

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 17,956 (545 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 222017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 1 Cambridge United

 

Baker and Naismith on target

Pompey ensured their promotion party did not fall flat with a 2-1 victory over Cambridge at Fratton Park.

Carl Baker fired them ahead before the break and Kal Naismith’s fine free-kick doubled the advantage in the second half.

An equally impressive strike from Luke Berry reduced the deficit, but the Blues saw out the closing stages to secure all three points.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that won at Notts County to secure promotion on Easter Monday.

There were maiden starts for Nicke Kabamba and Stanley Aborah, with Gary Roberts and Amine Linganzi making way.

Matt Clarke also returned from injury to replace Christian Burgess at the heart of Pompey’s back-line.

There was a carnival atmosphere inside Fratton Park as the sides emerged from the tunnel to the tune of the Herman’s Hermits hit ‘I’m Into Something Good’.

And it was the hosts who looked more threatening in the early stages, with Naismith’s effort blocked before Baker drilled a low shot just past the post.

Enda Stevens then tried his luck after cutting inside from out wide, although his rising drive cleared the crossbar.

And Cambridge skipper Leon Legge managed to head clear a cross from the left-back before it could reach the waiting Kabamba.

Gareth Evans was next to have a pop and hit the ball cleanly enough from 25 yards, only for it to fly straight into the arms of Will Norris.

But the United keeper was beaten on 20 minutes, as Stevens got free down the left and cut the ball back for BAKER to side-foot home from inside the box.

That was the signal for the play-off chasing visitors to start showing some more ambition and try to chase an equaliser.

Medy Elito whipped in a free-kick from wide on the left, with David Forde was at his commanding best to punch clear.

But Cambridge almost drew level when the keeper failed to claim a cross on 35 minutes, as Michael Doyle initially cleared before Uche Ikpeazu’s effort was turned off the line by Jack Whatmough.

The danger was not over yet, however, and Liam O’Neil should have found the target after being picked out from the resulting corner.

And Forde did brilliantly to somehow claim a dangerous delivery by Piero Mingoia with just one hand in a crowded area.

But it was the Blues who almost snatched a goal to extend their advantage just moments before the break.

Naismith and Stevens combined well down the left and the latter’s centre was hooked back across goal by Baker, although just too high for Kabamba to divert on target at the far post.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Cambridge 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

There was another great chance for the hosts following the restart as Norris spilled Kyle Bennett’s shot, only for Kabamba to slip before he could reach the loose ball.

It was only a brief respite for Cambridge, however, and Shaun Derry’s side did fall further behind on 51 minutes.

Aborah was brought down 25 yards from goal and top scorer NAISMITH stepped up to curl home a beauty of a free-kick.

The visitors needed some inspiration and quickly made all three of their substitutions, including introductions for former Blues players James Dunne and Adam McGurk.

And Cook made a couple of switches of his own, with Kabamba and Baker making way for Conor Chaplin and Monday’s goal hero Jamal Lowe.

That seemed to take the sting out of the game, although it was still Pompey playing with more attacking intent.

A dangerous low Stevens cross was turned into his own keeper’s arms by Legge, while a couple of fine passing moves were just lacking a final killer ball.

But Cambridge found a route back into the game on 80 minutes when Aborah conceded a free-kick that Berry superbly fired past Forde’s desperate grasp.

The same played had another sighter following a foul by Doyle soon after, although this time he smashed his shot straight into the wall.

A third free-kick from Berry in stoppage-time was then heading for the net, until Forde managed to push it to safety.

And United were unable to find an equaliser, meaning that Pompey still have slim hopes of catching leaders Doncaster.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Whatmough, Clarke, Stevens; Aborah, M.Doyle (c); Baker (Lowe 67), Naismith, Bennett (Roberts 72); Kabamba (Chaplin 63)
Goals: Baker 20, Naismith 51
Booked: Baker, Whatmough, Forde
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, T.Davies, Rose

Cambridge (4-1-4-1): Norris; Halliday, Legge (c), Taylor, Carroll; O’Neil (Dunk 57); Mingoia, Newton (Dunne 61), Berry, Elito; Ikpeazu (McGurk 63)
Goals: Berry 80
Booked: O’Neil
Subs not used: Gregory, Wharton, Maris, Lewis

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 18,165 (622 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 082017
 
League 2
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

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 012017
 
League 2
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

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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
Booked: Alessandra
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
Booked: Rose
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Whatmough, Linganzi

Referee: Mark Brown

Attendance: 4,500 (977 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 252017
 
League 2
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

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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)

Mar 142017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 4 – 0 Grimsby Town

 

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.

Half Time: Pompey 3 Grimsby 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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

Attendance: 16,492 (527 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 282017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 1 Morecambe

 

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.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Morecambe 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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
Booked: Roberts
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
Booked: Rose
Subs not used: Nizic, Duckworth, Evans, Jordan

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 15,592 (71 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 112017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 2 – 0 Accrington Stanley

 

Clarke and Naismith secure victory

Matt Clarke and Kal Naismith were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways by beating Accrington at Fratton Park.

The centre-back headed home in just the second minute to ensure the Blues got their promotion challenge back on track.

But the hosts probably should have wrapped things up earlier, with some missed chances ensuring the finale was more stressful than it ought to have been.

Substitute Kal Naismith finally settled those nerves in stoppage-time following a quick break up the pitch.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that were narrowly beaten at Wycombe the previous week, meaning the Eoin Doyle made his Fratton bow.

The hosts came charging out of the blocks and Marek Rodak made a fantastic save to deny Gary Roberts after the midfielder had been slipped through by Enda Stevens.

But the Blues did break the deadlock from the resulting corner, with Roberts collecting the ball back from Eoin Doyle and whipping in a cross that CLARKE headed home to open his account for the season.

Accrington had an interesting way of trying to find an equaliser with a shot straight from the restart, but the ambitious effort flew well wide.

It was Pompey doing most of the attacking, however, and Kyle Bennett fired narrowly past the post after being afforded space to run through the centre.

The hosts were winning plenty of corners, as Stanley struggled to get the ball to safety and threaten at the other end of the pitch.

And Clarke had another chance to find the net on 20 minutes, but this time headed over from a Roberts free-kick.

The lively Jamal Lowe was next to try his luck following some neat footwork inside the area, but his deflected strike was grabbed by Rodak at the second attempt.

Stanley then finally carved open a decent opportunity of their own, only for Sean McConville to waste it by curling wide when well-placed to trouble David Forde.

It was Pompey who finished the half on a high, however, and Clarke improvised with a scooped shot that was not far off target.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Accrington 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The Blues did not sit back at the start of the second half and Gareth Evans’ excellent cross was flicked on by a defender, with the ball hitting Bennett and drifting wide.

And the winger then tricked his way past a couple of challenges, but his shot could not find a way through a sea of red shirts.

Rodak slipped as he tried to make a clearance on 54 minutes, with Amine Linganzi’s threaded pass for Roberts intercepted.

Stanley were trying their best to make inroads at the other end, but Sean Clare was off target, while Clarke blocked Billy Kee’s effort.

It was still the Blues looking most likely to add to the scoring, however, with Clarke somehow failing to convert another Roberts corner from close range.

Cook made a double switch on 66 minutes, with Bennett and Roberts withdrawn for Carl Baker and Naismith.

Accrington then came close to levelling moments later when Janoi Donacien’s header led to a scramble on the goal-line before the ball was eventually hacked to safety by Evans.

There were certainly a few more nerves as the clock ticked down and Pompey clung onto their slender advantage.

Evans made a couple of key clearances as Stanley, unsurprisingly, started to show more of an attacking threat.

The tiring Lowe was replaced by Noel Hunt for the closing stages, receiving a warm reception as he made his way off the pitch.

And Clarke had yet another chance to wrap things up late on, only to see his header saved by Rodak’s feet after meeting Baker’s corner.

But NAISMITH did secure the three points following a quick stoppage-time counter-attack, with Hunt releasing the winger, who surged up the pitch and coolly slotted home.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Linganzi, M.Doyle (c); Lowe (Hunt 85), Roberts (Naismith 66), Bennett (Baker 66); E.Doyle
Goals: Clarke 2, Naismith 90+2
Booked: E.Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Rose, Chaplin

Accrington (4-1-2-1-2): Rodak; Rodgers (McCartan 60), Beckles, Hughes, Donacien; Conneely (c); Clare (Clark 60), McConville; Husin (Boco 86); Kee, Edwards
Booked: Conneely, Donacien
Subs not used: Chapman, Sykes, Davies, Shaw

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 15,955 (48 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 052017
 
League 2
Doncaster Rovers 3 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Blues lose at league leaders

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.

Half Time: Doncaster 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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
Booked: Alcock
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)

Portsmouth FC