Jan 022017
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 0 Luton Town

 

Burgess header secures victory

Pompey got 2017 off to a great start by beating Luton to close the gap on the automatic promotion places.

Christian Burgess grabbed the only goal of the game by heading home from a first half free-kick.

The hosts dominated before the break, but there were a few nervy moments after it and Gary Roberts missed a penalty before the victory could finally be celebrated.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew at a foggy Yeovil in the final game of last year.

Noel Hunt dropped to the bench to make way for Kyle Bennett, as the Blues switched back to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system.

The visitors’ line-up suggested they would play with more ambition than most sides who visit Fratton Park.

But it was the Blues who made the brighter start, without really testing Christian Walton in the Hatters goal.

There was then a lengthy break in play when Cameron McGeehan went down injured following a challenge with Michael Doyle and had to be stretchered from the pitch.

The game took a while to gather pace once it restarted, but Pompey soon started to impose themselves.

Gareth Evans sent a snap-shot narrowly over the bar from 30 yards, while an unmarked Carl Baker then completely mis-hit his effort from inside the box.

Bennett was next to go close when he collected a pass from Enda Stevens and sent a low drive inches past the post.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on 31 minutes after Bennett had been fouled by Stephen O’Donnell wide on the left.

Baker stepped up to send a sumptuous delivery into the box, where BURGESS rose highest to send a thumping header into the net.

He then made an important intervention at the other end of the pitch to dispossess Danny Hylton inside the area.

But most of the action was still taking place in and around the Luton box, with Scott Cuthbert forced to make a vital challenge when Evans collected Baker’s incisive pass.

And Burgess almost doubled the advantage just before the break, only to divert Kal Naismith’s corner wide.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Luton 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey started the second half as they had finished the first – and an unmarked Evans should really have done better than guiding Baker’s free-kick straight at Walton.

Naismith then delivered a dangerous cross that was just behind the onrushing Michael Smith, as the Blues looked to make their pressure count.

But Luton almost levelled when Burgess was caught in possession seconds later. Hylton stole the ball and neatly chipped David Forde, but it bounced back off the crossbar.

The visitors were certainly looking more of a threat since the interval and Forde made a comfortable stop to deny Jonathan Smith before a free-kick was nervously dealt with by Stevens.

And it was Smith who should have at least tested Forde when Hylton ran along the byline and teed-up him up, only for the midfielder to fire wide from a few yards out.

Cook made his first substitution on 68 minutes, with a refreshed Roberts coming on for Bennett.

It was a nervy period for Pompey and Forde had to palm the ball clear when James Justin took advantage of Evans’ slip to fire in a shot.

The visitors were being hampered by an injury to Hylton, however. Boss Nathan Jones had already made all his changes, so the striker was forced to carry on, cutting a forlorn figure as he hobbled around the pitch.

Pompey tried to make the most of that and one attack looked particularly promising on 75 minutes.

They broke quickly up the pitch, but Smith picked the ball up when he probably should have left it for Naismith and when his path was blocked, Baker fired high over the bar.

There was certainly a feeling of tension around Fratton Park as the clock ticked down towards a much-needed home triumph.

Roberts then missed a chance to let everyone breathe out when he fired over from the spot after Noel Hunt had been tripped in the box by Olly Lee in stoppage-time.

But the Blues saw out the final few moments to ensure there was plenty of New Year cheer on the south coast.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Linganzi 84), Doyle (c); Baker (Hunt 80), Naismith, Bennett (Roberts 68); Smith
Goals: Burgess 31
Booked: Forde, Hunt
Subs not used: O’Brien, Whatmough, Lalkovic, Chaplin

Luton (4-1-2-1-2): Walton; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Mullins, Justin; Rea; Gilliead (Lee 54), Smith; McGeehan (Mpanzu 20); Cook (Vassell 54), Hylton
Booked: McGeehan, Smith, Vassell, Mpanzu
Subs not used: King, Senior, Marriott, McQuoid

Referee: Tim Robinson

Attendance: 17,402 (1,547 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Nov 222016
 
League 2
Luton Town 1 – 3 Portsmouth

 

Portsmouth fight back aginst Hatters

Pompey stretched their unbeaten away run to five matches by coming from behind to beat Luton at Kenilworth Road.

It looked like being a tough night for the Blues when Danny Hylton gave the visitors an early lead and then had another effort disallowed.

But Michael Smith soon evened things up with his second goal in as many games and Gareth Evans turned the match on its head just before the break.

The Hatters did not put apply too much pressure in the second half, but there was still a sense of relief when Kal Naismith came off the bench to wrap things up.

Paul Cook made one enforched change from the side that drew with Cheltenham at the weekend.

Conor Chaplin was suspended after collecting his fifth booking at Whaddon Road, so was replaced by Smith up front.

Pompey almost found themselves ahead after just four minutes, with Christian Walton superbly saving Matt Clarke’s header before Alan Sheehan hacked the ball clear.

But instead it was the hosts who took an early lead when Evans was lying on the turf with an injury.

Sheehan took advantage of the space that created on the Luton left, whipping in a cross that Hylton expertly guided into the top corner.

Hylton had the ball in the net again just seconds later, but this time his celebrations were cut short by the linesman’s flag.

And it was the opposition fans feeling jubilant on 11 minutes after seeing their side grab an equaliser.

SMITH fed the ball to Carl Baker and when he was tackled, the striker guided the ball in off the post from the edge of the box.

It was a breathless, end-to-end encounter, with both sides showcasing fine attacking flair and also some sloppy play.

A couple of Luton free-kicks caused a few nerves among the travelling supporters, but one was saved by David Forde and the other headed clear by Christian Burgess.

Gary Roberts then missed an excellent opportunity at the other end by heading Baker’s cross straight at Walton.

Olly Lee went close for the Hatters on 32 minutes, volleying narrowly past the post after being picked out on the edge of the box by Sheehan’s corner.

Both sides seemed keen to get forward whenever possible and a crisp effort from Michael Doyle flew into the side netting.

Roberts came close to firing the Blues ahead before the break, drawing a fine stop from Walton after his initial effort had been blocked.

And when the midfielder won a free-kick it finally did lead to Pompey taking the lead in stoppage-time.

His short pass to Baker led to a 20-yard drive that deflected off the Luton wall and flew behind for a corner.

Roberts stepped up to take the corner and when the visitors failed to deal with his dangerous cross, the ball landed at the feet of EVANS to hook home.

Half Time: Luton 1 Pompey 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey started the second half as they had ended the first – on the attack.

Bennett found space to shoot on the edge of the box, but scuffed his effort wide, while Roberts could not quite bring down a clever chipped pass from Doyle.

The Blues were enjoying plenty of possession and the home support started to grow frustrated as the chances dried up.

They won a free-kick when Danny Rose was booked for illegally stopping a counter-attack, only for Pompey to immediately break up the field and threaten themselves.

And the visitors were agonisingly close to extending their advantage with a third goal just past the hour mark.

It was good work down the right from Smith to chip the ball into the centre, where Burgess rose highest to head against the crossbar.

There was then more frustration a few moments later when Baker swung in a free-kick that Evans glanced inches past the post.

Pompey were soaking up any Hatters pressure at the other and when Sheehan got a shot away on 70 minutes, Forde was there to make a comfortable save.

Cook made his first switch soon after, with Roberts departing to a rousing reception from the travelling fans as he made way for Naismith.

And Luton almost snatched a leveller on 82 minutes when Forde punched clear a corner and Sheehan’s follow-up had to be cleared from the line by Clarke.

But there was a big sigh of relief moments later when the Blues scored again to secure all three points.

It was a fine solo effort from NAISMITH, with the substitute bundling his way into space before steering a precise shot right into the bottom corner.

And Pompey saw out five minutes of stoppage-time to send the travelling army of almost 1,000 fans back home with smiles on their faces.

Luton (4-1-2-1-2): Walton; Justin (Mackail-Smith 85), Rea, Mullins, Sheehan (c); Lee; Gilliead (Cook 58), Mpanzu; McGeehan; Hylton, Vassell (Marriott 79)
Goals: Hylton 7
Booked: Sheehan, Lee
Subs not used: King, O’Donnell, Cuthbert, Smith

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Naismith 74), Bennett (Whatmough 88); Smith (Hunt 90+1)
Goals: Smith 11, Evans 45+2, Naismith 84
Booked: Evans, Rose, Stevens, Hunt
Subs not used: O’Brien, Talbot, Linganzi, Lalkovic

Referee: David Coote

Attendance: 8,805 (975 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Dec 282015
 

Portsmouth 0 v 0 Luton Town

Pompey were unable to break down Luton and had to settle for a point in their final game of 2015.

It was the hosts who had the better chances to earn a victory, but they found Hatters keeper Mark Tyler in decent form.

The result ensured that the Blues finished the year just outside of the automatic promotion places in League Two.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side beaten at Leyton Orient on Boxing Day.

Adam Webster served a one-match ban following his red card, so midfielder Adam Barton replaced him at centre-back.

Pompey Hall of Fame inductee Andy Awford was in the opposition dug-out and he handed a start to former Fratton loanee Paul Benson.

The hosts started brightly and Ben Davies hit a free-kick that was deflected safely into the arms of Tyler.

Marc McNulty then fired over from an acute angle after collecting a precise pass from Enda Stevens.

The Scottish striker went even closer midway through the first half, but Tyler got down quickly to push the ball clear.

Luton almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up, but Stevens came to the rescue, getting across to clear the danger.

And the left-back immediately created an opening at the other end of the pitch, with McNulty just unable to connect with a low cross as he slid in at the far post.

Kyle Bennett was next to go close when he cut across the edge of the box and struck a fierce effort that Tyler did well to keep out.

The keeper then made an even better stop moments later to prevent McNulty from breaking the deadlock.

There was a comedy moment late in the half when Davies hit a free-kick narrowly past the post.

Plenty of fans thought it had gone in and so did the announcer, who declared a goal, resulting in plenty of laughter around Fratton Park.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Luton 0

It was Luton who came close to scoring early in the second half, but Brian Murphy raced from his line to deny Jack Marriott before pouncing at the feet of Ryan Hall to claim the loose ball.

But the action was soon back down the other end, with Bennett surging forward and seeing his shot deflected wide.

Davies sent a corner in to the near post and Michael Doyle met it with a diving header that flew narrowly over.

The right-back delivered another dangerous corner on 58 minutes, but this time Matt Clarke’s firm header flew safely into Tyler’s arms.

Cook made his first change just past the hour mark, with Gary Roberts replacing Caolan Lavery in Pompey’s attack.

But it was Luton who were next to threaten, although Magnus Okuonghae and Craig Mackail-Smith both wasted good opportunities.

Pompey were soon back on the attack and Tyler did well to deny Evans and Roberts in quick succession, having not spotted the linesman’s raised flag.

Adam McGurk entered the fray on 77 minutes as Cook made his second switch, with McNulty the man to make way.

The chances had dried up, however, and Conor Chaplin came on for the closing stages to try to inject some life back into the Blues.

But it was Clarke who had a great chance to grab the winner in stoppage-time, only for the unmarked defender to head wide from close range.

And the Hatters held firm for the final few minutes to ensure it was honours even on Awford’s return to Fratton Park.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Barton, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty (McGurk 77), Bennett (Chaplin 87); Lavery (Roberts 64)
Booked: Doyle
Subs not used: Bass, Close, Tollitt, Stockley

Luton (4-2-3-1): Tyler; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Okuonghae, Howells; Lawless (Long 78), Smith; McQuoid (McGeehan 63), Marriott (Mackail-Smith 69), Hall; Benson
Booked: Lawless, Okuonghae, O’Donnell
Subs not used: Justham, Wilkinson, Guttridge, McCourt

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 17,668 (1,556 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 292015
 

Luton Town 1 v 2 Portsmouth

Matt Tubbs came off the bench to grab a late winner at Luton as Pompey continued their unbeaten start to the league campaign.

Gareth Evans had given the Blues an early lead, only for Craig Mackail-Smith to cancel it out from the penalty spot.

It looked like the game was heading for a stalemate, until Tubbs popped up late on to send the large travelling support wild with delight.

Jayden Stockley came in as the lone striker in the Blues’ usual 4-2-3-1 system, with Tubbs dropping to the bench.

The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening stages, without being able to carve out a decent opening.

But they broke the deadlock with their first proper chance on eight minutes – although there was a slice of fortune involved.

Enda Stevens’ cross was cleared by former Pompey trainee Luke Wilkinson, but the ball ricocheted straight into his team-mate Scott Cuthbert and fell kindly for EVANS to slam home.

The lead did not last long, however, as Nigel Atangana barged into Josh McQuoid in the box and referee Peter Bankes pointed straight to the spot.

Mackail-Smith stepped up to take the penalty and confidently slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

After that frenetic opening, the game suddenly fell a bit flat, with the Blues unable to find the attacking fluidity that had been so evident in previous games.

Kyle Bennett did look dangerous when he burst down the left on 21 minutes, but Elliot Justham was quickly off his line to prevent Stockley from making a connection.

They soon received a let-off at the other end, though, when a poor touch from Christian Burgess forced Brian Murphy to exit his area and head clear.

Ryan Hall picked up the loose ball and surged into the box, only for Pompey’s keeper to make a quick recovery and smother the danger.

Bankes would then have breathed a sigh of relief on 34 minutes when he inadvertently intercepted Evans’ pass, but Cameron McGeehan fired wide to spare the official’s blushes.

The game suddenly livened up just before the break and Justham held a curling effort from Bennett before Mackail-Smith headed a Stephen O’Donnell cross wide.

Justham then did well to deny Stockley from close range, but had a simpler task in keeping out Gary Roberts’ angled shot.

Half Time: Luton 1 Pompey 1

It was the hosts who started the second half brighter, although it took until 54 minutes for them to create a serious scoring opportunity.

Pompey would have been responsible for their own downfall, however, after a mix-up between Burgess and his defensive partner Matt Clarke.

Mackail-Smith picked up the loose ball as Luton bore down on goal, but his pass for McGeehan was not quite right and the midfielder fired wide.

The Blues soon carved out a chance of their own as Stockley bent in a dangerous low cross that was just out of reach for the onrushing Evans.

Evans then met a Bennett corner with a glancing header that was heading for the bottom corner until a well-placed Olly Lee cleared it from the line.

Both sides looked capable of grabbing a winner, although it was Pompey who had the next opportunity when Evans was crudely felled by Hall.

Roberts stepped up to take the free-kick from 25 yards out and his effort struck the top of the wall and looped narrowly over the bar.

Cook made his first substitution on 73 minutes as Stockley made way for Tubbs, with Conor Chaplin replacing Bennett moments later.

Both sides continued to show plenty of attacking intent, although some resolute defending meant the goalkeepers were not being overly tested.

But there was still time for a late winner as Chaplin latched on to a long ball and held off a defender to get a shot away.

Justham stuck out an arm to palm clear the teenager’s effort, but TUBBS was on hand to convert the loose ball.

Luton (4-1-4-1): Justham; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Wilkinson, Griffiths; O’Brien (Lee 46); McQuoid, McGeehan, Smith, Hall (Ruddock 82); Mackail-Smith (Marriott 71)
Goals: Mackail-Smith 15 (pen)
Booked: Smith, McGeehan, Wilkinson
Subs not used: Tyler, McNulty, McCourt, Green

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 82), Bennett (Chaplin 75); Stockley (Tubbs 73)
Goals: Evans 8, Tubbs 90
Subs not used: Jones, Webster, Haunstrup, Hollands

Referee: Peter Bankes

Attendance: 9,083 (1,032 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC