Transfer : Portsmouth – Brighton
Transfer : Portsmouth – Brighton
|Matt Clarke has left Pompey to sign for Premier League side Brighton for an undisclosed fee.
The 22-year-old centre-back made a total of 175 appearances – scoring nine goals – during his four seasons with the Blues.
He arrived at Fratton Park on loan from Ipswich in 2015, making the switch permanent the following year in a deal that saw Adam Webster move in the opposite direction.
Clarke was an important member of the side that dramatically secured the League Two title on the final day of the 2016/17 campaign.
He appeared 60 times in all competitions last term, enjoying Wembley success in the Checkatrade Trophy final.
Clarke’s fine form for Pompey saw him voted the club’s Player of the Season in each of the past two campaigns.
Matt Clarke struck right at the death as Pompey beat Burton to keep their automatic promotion quest on track.
A fine strike from Ben Close – just days after the midfielder had penned a new contract – gave them an interval lead.
But the Brewers hit back through Liam Boyce early in the second half and it looked like a stalemate was on the cards.
There was time for a late dose of drama, however, as Clarke fired home following a stoppage-time bundle to seal victory.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that eased past Rochdale on home soil the previous week.
Gareth Evans came on to score at Fratton Park and was rewarded with a starting berth, as Ronan Curtis dropped to the bench.
He was joined by a fit-again Viv Solomon-Otabor following the winger’s return to action for the reserves on Tuesday.
There was also a switch of system for the Blues, who began in a 4-3-3 formation, with Jamal Lowe and skipper Brett Pitman flanking Oli Hawkins.
The travelling fans were in fine voice as they enjoyed the Burton sunshine, with plenty packed into the terrace behind the goal and seated on one side.
Their team made a bright start and won a couple of early corners, the first of which was taken by Lee Brown and glanced wide by Clarke at the near post.
Evans then sent one in from the other end, but it was just too high for Tom Naylor – appearing against his former club – at the back post.
It was certainly not one-way traffic, though, and the Brewers caused plenty of problems before the break, without really testing Craig MacGillivray.
Jamie Allen went closest to opening the scoring and drilled a fierce low effort inches wide on 16 minutes.
Stephen Bywater had to come quickly off his line at the other end and just about beat Evans to Close’s delivery.
And it was the latter who broke the deadlock on 31 minutes, playing a key role in the build-up before finishing the move in style.
The midfielder’s initial cross was headed clear, but Nathan Thompson picked the ball back up and laid it off for CLOSE to bend home from the edge of the box.
The visitors charged forward again moments later and Bywater did just enough to stop Lowe slipping a pass across to Hawkins.
Burton looked dangerous themselves, though, and caused an almighty scramble in the Blues box before the ball was eventually hacked to safety.
And there was a repeat just before the break, with Clarke and Evans forced to make blocks inside the area.
There was still time for Pompey to have another chance, however, and Pitman bent a shot narrowly over after being teed-up by Hawkins.
Burton Albion 0
The second half was not even two minutes old when the hosts found themselves level, as Boyce converted Colin Daniel’s fine cross with a firm header from close range.
Lucas Akins soon had another chance for the Brewers, although his effort forced a regulation save from MacGillivray.
Pompey tried to hit back and when Christian Burgess met a free-kick from Evans, his header had to be tipped over by Bywater.
And MacGillivray then did well at the other end, getting down low to his left to push behind a low drive from Stephen Quinn.
Jackett made a double switch just past the hour mark, with Hawkins and Pitman making way for Omar Bogle and Bryn Morris.
But Burton were still causing problems as the second half progressed and forcing their opponents into some sloppy play.
There was some fine bits of individual defending from the Blues, though, including a headed clearance from Burgess and a fine tackle on Scott Fraser by Thompson.
Bogle did have an opportunity for the Blues when he found space to advance down the left, but a weak effort was easily dealt with by Bywater.
And a better opening was wasted moments later, as Morris skied the ball over after Brown had laid it off for him.
Jackett made a final throw of the dice on 77 minutes, with Curtis replacing Evans to inject some attacking impetus.
The newcomer soon did well to beat his man and get into the box, but Lowe was unable to get a shot away.
Both sides were trying their best to grab a late leveller as time ticked away, although it looked like heading for a draw.
Then, deep into stoppage-time, Curtis’ cross caused a melee in the Burton box and Thompson somehow managed to keep the play alive.
The ball fell for CLARKE, who slotted it into the net to spark scenes of delirium among the travelling support.
Burton desperately appealed for both offside and a handball, but their cries fell on deaf ears and referee Craig Hicks blew the final whistle soon after.
Burton (4-3-3): Bywater; Brayford (c), McFadzean, Wallace, Daniel; Allen, Quinn (Fox 81), Fraser (Hutchinson 85); Akins, Boyce, Harness (Miller 85)
Goals: Boyce 47
Subs not used: Hawkins, McCrory, Bradley, Clarke
Pompey (4-3-3): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Close, Naylor, Evans (Curtis 77); Lowe, Hawkins (Bogle 61), Pitman (c) (Morris 61)
Goals: Close 31, Clarke 90+2
Booked: Close, Bogle
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Haunstrup, Solomon-Otabor
Referee: Craig Hicks
Attendance: 4,034 (1,290 Pompey fans)
They looked stronger before the break and appeared comfortable after Oli Hawkins’ header had secured an interval advantage.
But Devante Cole and Jake Hesketh both netted at the start of the second half to leave the League One leaders stunned.
Matt Clarke soon nodded in an equaliser in a hectic period, although neither side was able to score again and snatch all three points.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that had beaten Fleetwood on home soil a few days earlier.
With Nathan Thompson’s wife having just given birth to a baby boy, Anton Walkes replaced him at right-back.
David Wheeler was named among the substitutes after recovering from an ankle problem that has kept him sidelined for the past three games.
A couple of Lee Brown crosses showed Pompey’s mentality in the opening stages, as they looked to get at their visitors.
Goalkeeper Dimitar Evtimov was then called into action for the first time, getting his fingertips to a rasping Ronan Curtis drive.
The hosts were on top and when Tom Naylor stole possession in the middle of the pitch, the midfielder picked out Ben Thompson.
His fierce drive was kept out by Evtimov and the stopper dived on the loose ball before Jamal Lowe could capitalise.
But Naylor collected a booking soon after following a late challenge on Stephen Quinn. It was his fifth league caution of the season, earning a one-match suspension.
It was a fairly quiet time for Craig MacGillivray in the Blues goal, although he came off his line to deny Jamie Allen.
Will Miller then wasted a decent opportunity by hitting a tame effort straight at the keeper after being picked out by Ben Fox.
And there was a blow for Pompey when Dion Donohue limped off with an injury, with Gareth Evans on to replace him.
It was generally proving to be a positive evening for the hosts, though, with Jack Whatmough and Evans both having half-chances.
And the Blues broke the deadlock on 36 minutes when Thompson swung in a fine cross from the right and HAWKINS charged in to head home from close range.
The closest that Albion came to levelling before the break was a shot from Kyle McFadzean, although that went out for a throw.
There was still time for another Pompey opportunity, however, and Evtimov did well to stop Lowe’s cross reaching Curtis.
Burton Albion 0
But the Brewers started the second half strongly and Naylor had to slide bravely in to block Hesketh’s attempt.
The loose ball fell for Liam Boyce, however, and his shot was saved low to his left by a full-stretch MacGillivray.
An equaliser did arrive moments later, though, when Allen found Cole, who – having been brought on at the break – sent a neat finish nestling in the bottom corner.
And the Blues were left stunned on 52 minutes when Hesketh wriggled his way past a couple of challenges and hit a thunderous shot into the roof of the net.
The Fratton faithful raised the decibels to try to roar their side back into action and it seemed to have an effect.
Evans saw an effort blocked a few yards from the line, while Evtimov did well to keep out Lowe’s angled strike.
But the hosts were back on level terms on 57 minutes, with CLARKE rising highest in the box to convert an Evans corner.
Brett Pitman replaced Hawkins just past the hour mark, as Jackett opted to freshen up his forward line.
But it was Brown who had a chance to score when Lowe was brought down by Reece Hutchinson 20 yards out.
The left-back managed to send his free-kick through the wall, only for it to fly safely into the arms of Evtimov.
Pitman was then unable to make a connection with an attempted over-head kick after Whatmough’s long throw had been flicked on by Clarke.
A shot from Quinn at the other end lacked pace, but took a deflection and almost wrong-footed MacGillivray.
Both sides looked capable of scoring again, but it was Burton who almost grabbed a late winner following a quick break.
Cole tried to pick out an unmarked Lucas Akins in the box, with Naylor just about managing to intercept and MacGillivray diving on the loose ball.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor (c), Donohue (Evans 28); Lowe, B.Tompson, Curtis; Hawkins (Pitman 64)
Goals: Hawkins 36, Clarke 57
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Close, Wheeler, Mason
Burton (4-2-3-1): Evtimov; Akins (c), Brayford, McFadzean, Hutchinson; Quinn, Allen (Beardsley 90+3); Hesketh, Fox (Cole 46), Miller (Buxton 77); Boyce
Goals: Cole 48, Hesketh 52
Subs not used: Collins, Hodge, Harness, Sbarra
Referee: Andrew Madley
Attendance: 18,200 (156 away fans)
The hosts took an early lead in some style when Aaron Wilbraham struck a sensational shot from long-range.
But the Blues were impressive in the opening 45 minutes and Jamal Lowe deservedly ensured the scores would be level at the break.
It was not quite so strong after the interval, but Brett Pitman showed typical striking instincts to turn the game around on his 50th appearance for the club.
And Matt Clarke added a fine third goal to wrap the points up for the visitors in the closing stages of an enjoyable Spotland contest.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that drew with Wycombe on home soil the previous week.
Pitman returned to skipper the team, while there was also a start for Jack Whatmough at the back, with Oli Hawkins and Christian Burgess dropping to the bench.
Pompey got off to the worst possible start by falling behind in the fourth minute – not that they could have done much to prevent it.
It was a phenomenal effort from Wilbraham, who hit a stunning strike on the half-volley from almost 30 yards that left Craig MacGillivray with no chance.
But it was the Blues largely on top for the remainder of the half and an ambitious over-head effort from Gareth Evans flew past the post.
Nathan Thompson almost grabbed an unlikely leveller after collecting a pass from Pitman and firing a rocket against the crossbar.
Ollie Rathbone then had another long-range attempt for the hosts, although this one thankfully flew wide.
But Pompey were level on 25 minutes, thanks to a well-worked goal involving all three of the forward line.
Pitman collected the ball from Ronan Curtis, swivelled and sent in a low centre for LOWE to slide into the net.
He might have had another after being picked out by Pitman, but a poor first touch allowed Joe Rafferty to clear the danger.
The trio linked up well again when the skipper flicked on Lowe’s cross and Curtis met it with a deft touch, but Josh Lillis got down to his right to save.
Pompey were looking to attack at every opportunity and there were some nervy moments for the Dale back-line.
But Lillis was not being over-worked and made relatively comfortable stops to deny both Curtis and Lowe.
The keeper then came tearing from his line in stoppage-time to stop Lowe reaching Pitman’s threaded pass after Curtis had nipped in to steal possession from a Rochdale throw.
It was the hosts that were first to threaten after the restart, but when MacGillivray parried Andy Cannon’s effort, Rathbone skied the loose ball over.
There was certainly some of the excitement from the first half missing, however, with both sides guilty of some misplaced passes.
Ian Henderson curled a shot wide for Rochdale, while a well-placed Ben Close headed clear Cannon’s dangerous cross.
Then – after Lowe had been booked for a foul – Rathbone came close to sneaking the free-kick inside MacGillivray’s near post.
There was not too much happening at the other end of the pitch, although an Evans set-piece was glanced wide by Tom Naylor.
But the Blues took the lead on 71 minutes when a low ball from Lee Brown was deftly turned home by PITMAN at the near post.
A substitution soon followed, with Ben Thompson coming on for Evans to shore up the Blues midfield.
But it was not the end of Pompey’s attacking intent and they were able to extend their advantage on 81 minutes.
Rochdale failed to properly deal with a corner and CLARKE showed he is not just a class act at the back.
The defender brought the ball under control, beat his man and angled home a fierce strike that arrowed into the net.
David Wheeler and Hawkins were both introduced from the bench late on, as the visitors comfortably saw out the final few moments.
Rochdale (4-2-3-1): Lillis; Rafferty, McNulty, Delaney, Hart (Cannon 45); Camps (Clough 77), Perkins; J.Williams (Andrew 50), Rathbone, Henderson (c); Wilbraham
Goals: Wilbraham 4
Subs not used: Norman, Morley, MJ Williams, Gillam
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Close, Naylor; Lowe, Evans (B.Thompson 76), Curtis (Wheeler 89); Pitman (c) (Hawkins 90+2)
Goals: Lowe 25, Pitman 71, Clarke 81
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Haunstrup, Mason
Referee: John Busby
Attendance: 3,796 (966 Pompey fans)
Checkatrade Trophy Group
A largely uneventful first half came to life right at the end, with Matt Clarke and Ben Close finding the net in quick succession.
Brett Pitman then hammered home a penalty after the interval to erase any hopes of a Gills comeback.
And a comfortable evening was wrapped up right at the end when David Wheeler opened his Blues account.
Kenny Jackett made 10 changes from the side that comfortably saw off Plymouth in the league at the weekend.
Clarke was the only player to keep his spot, with loan sign Andre Green handed his debut in an attacking role.
Pitman reclaimed the captain’s armband up front, while fellow striker Joe Mason had to be content with a place among the substitutes.
The crowd were packed into the South Stand, but there was not too much to keep them entertained for the majority of the first half.
Pitman thundered a 30-yard free-kick against the crossbar after Wheeler had been fouled by Aaron Simpson.
But that was not typical of a listless opening period that only exploded into life just before the interval.
Neither keeper had much to deal with, although Luke McGee made a regulation save to deny Navid Nasseri.
Pompey finally moved through the gears on 41 minutes when Adam May slipped a fine pass down the line for Wheeler.
His low centre was intended for Pitman, who would have been left with a simple finish had Alex Lacey not cut the ball out.
But the deadlock was broken from the resulting corner, as CLARKE was left untroubled to convert May’s delivery.
And the celebrations from the home supporters had barely died down before the Blues doubled their advantage.
Nathan Thompson crossed from the right and although CLOSE’s first time effort lacked power, it was neatly placed into the bottom corner.
It might have been even better in stoppage-time, but a long-range effort from May flashed past the post.
There were only a few minutes on the clock when the hosts had a great chance to extend their lead further.
Wheeler whipped in a teasing cross from the right that would normally have been gobbled up by Pitman, but he fired uncharacteristically wide from a few yards out.
Pompey’s skipper made up for that, however, by opening his account for the season from the penalty spot on 55 minutes.
Alan Young pointed to the spot when Green went down under Aaron Simpson’s challenge, with PITMAN on hand to slam home from 12 yards.
Gills keeper Tom Hadler then came tearing from his line to stop Wheeler reaching Green’s threaded pass.
Mason was introduced for his Blues bow just past the hour mark, with May the man to make way for the on-loan Wolves striker.
The tempo of the contest unsurprisingly dropped with the lead so commanding and the chances started to dry up again.
Wheeler came close to adding a fourth goal after bundling his way into the box, but Hadler came to the rescue with a decent stop.
And that is exactly what he did at the death, with WHEELER on hand to net from close range after Mason’s blocked shot had fallen into his path.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; N.Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Haunstrup; Close, Rose; Wheeler, May (Mason 62), Green; Pitman (c)
Goals: Clarke 41, Close 43, Pitman 55 (pen), Wheeler 90
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Brown, Naylor, B.Thompson, Evans, Lowe
Gillingham (4-1-2-1-2): Hadler; O’Neill (c), Lacey (Scarlett 80), Ogilvie, Simpson (Nash 65); Oldaker; Rees (Chapman 62), Stevenson; Nasseri; Wilkinson, List
Subs not used: Holy, O’Mara, Woods, Mbo
Referee: Alan Young
Attendance: 2,011 (69 away fans)
Matt Clarke had already grabbed a late equaliser on his 100th appearance to cancel out Ike Ugbo’s opener.
Luke McGee also made several fine saves, while Brett Pitman and Oli Hawkins both went close as it seemed as though the Blues were heading for defeat.
But Clarke’s header lifted a large travelling army and substitute Chaplin sent them delirious at the death.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that drew with Doncaster on home soil the previous week.
Both were enforced, with the injured Stephen Henderson and suspended Christian Burgess making way for McGee and skipper Pitman.
It meant that striker Hawkins was once again forced into the central defensive role, where he has featured on many occasions this term.
Burgess was present at Stadium MK, however, sat with team-mate Stuart O’Keefe among the 6,257 away supporters.
The first half was an open affair, with the contest quickly switching from one end to the other, although it was the visitors who had more of the ball in the early stages.
Connor Ronan’s curling effort drew a save from Lee Nicholls, while the keeper also punched clear Matty Kennedy’s cross under pressure from Pitman.
Peter Pawlett’s drive was pushed away by McGee at the other end, but the first clear opportunity fell to Kieran Agard on 12 minutes.
The striker was slipped through on goal by Ed Upson, but was unable to keep his composure and shot wide of the post.
Pompey then threatened themselves when Gareth Evans picked up a loose ball and hit a fierce effort that Nicholls was just about able to parry behind.
Dion Donohue was next to force the stopper into action with a low drilled attempt after cutting along the edge of the box.
But it was MK Dons who broke the deadlock on 21 minutes, even if Ugbo almost managed to miss a simple chance.
Josh Tymon did well down the left and centred for Agard, who saw his effort saved at point-blank range by McGee.
Ugbo was left with an empty goal to fire into, however, and his shot clipped the inside of the post before nestling in the net.
Pompey tried to hit back and Kennedy’s sighter flew wide before a better effort from Ben Close swerved inches over the bar.
A brilliant effort from Pitman almost drew them level, only for a back-pedalling Nicholls to tip over the striker’s lob.
But the Blues might have found themselves further behind at the break, as McGee first saved Callum Brittain’s shot and then kept out a thumping Scott Wootton header from the resulting corner.
MK Dons 1
Jackett made a double substitution at the start of the second half, with Kennedy and Ronan withdrawn for Jamal Lowe and Chaplin.
Pitman thought he should have won a penalty when he went to ground under pressure from Dean Lewington, but referee John Brooks was not interested.
Chaplin then cut the ball back for Evans, who hit his shot cleanly enough, but the ball flew straight at a grateful Nicholls.
But the Blues were again indebted to McGee for a couple more fine pieces of goalkeeping around the hour mark.
Firstly, he used his feet to deny Ugbo and then, from the resulting corner, somehow managed to athletically tip over Upson’s header.
Again the action switched back down the other end and Pitman went it alone, bundling his way into a shooting position, only for a well-placed Wootton to hack the ball from the line.
The ball then fell for Lowe inside the area, but it bounced up at an awkward angle and forced the winger to fire over.
Pompey were struggling to break down their stubborn hosts, although they came close to levelling when Hawkins headed Donohue’s corner against the post.
Close then did well to steal possession and although his pass was too heavy for Pitman, the skipper managed to win a corner.
And it was from that set-piece that the Blues levelled on 84 minutes, as Evans played the ball to Donohue and his cross was headed home by CLARKE.
The visitors then survived a scare at the other end, as Upson’s free-kick somehow evaded everyone and flashed just past the post.
But it was the Blues who grabbed a last-gasp winner when Donohue’s cross deflected into CHAPLIN’s path and the striker swept the ball into the net.
MK Dons (3-5-1-1): Nicholls; Williams, Wootton, Lewington (c); Brittain, Pawlett (McGrandles 58), Upson, Cisse (Ebanks-Landell 80), Tymon; Ugbo; Agard
Goals: Ugbo 21
Subs not used: Sietsma, Nesbitt, Rasulo, Muirhead, Thomas-Asante
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Walkes, Hawkins, Clarke, Donohue; Thompson, Close; Evans, Ronan (Chaplin 46), Kennedy (Lowe 46); Pitman (c)
Goals: Clarke 84, Chaplin 90+3
Booked: Clarke, Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Deslandes, Widdrington, May, Naismith
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 14,762 (6,257 Pompey fans)
Matt Clarke found the target as Pompey continued their impressive run by seeing off Bury at Fratton Park.
They were on top for most of the contest, but were just lacking a clinical touch in front of goal against League One’s bottom club.
Their persistence was rewarded in the second half, however, when Clarke converted a Gareth Evans corner to seal the victory.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that won at Charlton the previous week.
Conor Chaplin dropped to the bench, with Kyle Bennett taking his place in a central attacking role against his former club.
There had perhaps been too much festive overindulgence on Friday evening, with the atmosphere feeling flatter than usual.
Not that there was too much to inspire them on the pitch in a first half that the hosts controlled, without looking overly threatening.
A tame Brett Pitman effort was comfortably dealt with, while the crossing of Evans was providing some problems for Bury.
Danny Rose had the first of three decent opportunities for the Blues, unleashing a thunderous 30-yard drive that Leo Fasan did well to tip over on 15 minutes.
Bennett and Clarke both had half-chances, as Pompey continued to probe away without getting any reward.
But those other two notable openings came on 34 minutes and there was a touch of fortune about both of them.
First up was a jinking run into the box by Jamal Lowe, with the ball ricocheting kindly into Evans’ path.
He was left with just the keeper to beat, but Fasan did well to spread himself as big as possible and make the save.
Then, just seconds later, an attempt from Lowe took a massive deflection, sending the ball fizzing inches past the post.
There was a change just after the restart for the second week in a row, with Stuart O’Keefe withdrawn for Ben Close in the engine room.
But it was Bury who initially started stronger and a free-kick from Jay O’Shea had to be punched clear by Luke McGee.
O’Shea was also involved moments later, whipping in a corner from the right that skipper Nathan Cameron headed narrowly over.
Jackett made a second switch on the hour mark as Pompey continued their hunt for a goal, with Chaplin replacing Bennett.
And they did forge ahead moments later when Evans whipped in an excellent corner and CLARKE came charging in at the far post to emphatically head home.
Bury then replaced one former Blues striker with another to try to force an equaliser, with Michael Smith given a warm reception as he made way for Chris Maguire.
The new man immediately had an opportunity to level when he was brought down by Lowe, only to send his free-kick straight into McGee’s arms.
Pompey were still looking to get forward themselves, though, and a left-footed attempt from Evans dipped narrowly over.
The Shakers got more men forward as the seconds ticked down, but a lack of firepower meant they never really looked like getting anything from the game.
And it might have been a heavier defeat for the visitors, with Fasan getting down well to palm clear a snap-shot from Close late on.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Haunstrup; O’Keefe (Close 46), Rose; Evans, Bennett (Chaplin 60), Lowe; Pitman (c)
Goals: Clarke 62
Booked: Bennett, Evans
Subs not used: Bass, Talbot, Donohue, Kennedy, Main
Bury (4-1-2-1-2): Fasan; Edwards, Cameron (c), O’Connell, Leigh; Ince; Tutte (Mayor 65), Reilly; O’Shea; Smith (Maguire 69), Ajose
Subs not used: Maloney, Aldred, Williams, Dawson, Laurent
Referee: John Brooks
Attendance: 17,549 (176 away fans)
It was a fairly even contest, but a couple of fine deliveries from Marcus Maddison ultimately proved the difference.
The Posh midfielder provided the assist for Jack Marriott to open the scoring and then saw his free-kick headed into his own net by Matt Clarke.
Conor Chaplin came off the bench to pull a goal back for the Blues, but they were unable to find a leveller.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that beat Southend at Fratton Park on Saturday.
Curtis Main made his second league start of the season in place of Brett Pitman, who missed out with a hamstring injury.
Matty Kennedy also returned in an attacking role wide on the left, with Kyle Bennett dropping to the bench.
But it was Jamal Lowe on the opposite flank who caused the hosts plenty of problems in the early stages.
One promising move saw him surge half the length of the pitch and whip in a cross that was met by Kal Naismith and deflected past the post.
And Naismith was then left alone at the far post to head stand-in skipper Gareth Evans’ corner back across goal, although the Posh defence were able to hack clear.
Peterborough soon began to settle, however, and dominate possession without creating too much of note.
They did go close on 18 minutes when Danny Lloyd threaded a pass through to Gwion Edwards, who lifted the ball over Luke McGee and against the crossbar.
Then, after Ben Close’s effort had been blocked, United charged straight down the other end and McGee – who along with Christian Burgess was facing his former club – palmed behind Maddison’s deflected effort.
But it was Pompey’s turn to threaten more towards the end of the first half and a fierce attempt from Main clipped the outside of the post.
There was one sensational cross-field pass from Oliver Hawkins to pick out Kennedy on the left, although the winger cross was claimed by keeper Conor O’Malley and the sides went in level at the break.
Peterborough United 0
The opening to the second half was also a pretty cagey affair, with little action to get either of the goalkeepers’ gloves dirty.
Maddison’s free-kick – given for a foul on the edge of the box by Kennedy – was headed clear by Main.
The striker was then involved at the other end of the pitch, sliding in but unable to make contact with Naismith’s teasing low delivery.
Naismith soon had a chance of his own and finally forced O’Malley into a meaningful save with a powerfully-struck effort from the edge of the box.
But it was Peterborough who finally broke the deadlock just before the hour mark when Maddison sent in a low cross from the left and Marriott arrived to bundle the ball home.
Jackett responded by making his first substitution, as the hard-working Main made way for Chaplin in attack.
It was Posh looking more likely to add to the scoring, however, and Hawkins had to turn one effort just past his own post, while Steven Taylor fired narrowly over from a corner.
But they needed a helping hand to double their advantage on 70 minutes after Burgess had been booked for a foul on Maddision.
It was the midfielder who dusted himself down to take the free-kick, which was inadvertently turned into his own net by Clarke.
Chaplin almost reduced the deficit soon after, although his miskicked shot was cleared from the line by a well-placed Anthony Grant.
But CHAPLIN did find the target on 78 minutes, sliding the ball into the net after O’Malley could only parry clear Danny Rose’s effort.
There were a few nerves starting to show for Peterborough as they tried to hang on to their now slender lead.
But for all of Pompey’s attacking intent, they were unable to test O’Malley again as time ran out in the search for a point.
Peterborough (3-5-2): O’Malley; Baldwin (c), Taylor, Tafazolli (Hughes 46); Lopes, Grant, Maddison (Anderson 85), Doughty, Edwards; Marriott, Lloyd
Goals: Marriott 58, Clarke 70 (og)
Booked: Grant, Edwards
Subs not used: Bond, Penny, Forrester, Kanu, Miller
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Evans (c), Hawkins, Burgess, Clarke; Close, Rose; Lowe, Naismith, Kennedy (Donohue 81); Main (Chaplin 64)
Goals: Chaplin 78
Subs not used: Bass, Thompson, O’Keefe, May, Bennett
Referee: Craig Hicks
Attendance: 5,217 (841 Pompey fans)
Matt Clarke opened the scoring with the type of goal you would not normally associate with a defender.
His stand-in back-line partner Oliver Hawkins then doubled the lead, only for Moussa Sanoh to pull one back after the break.
But Stuart O’Keefe added a third for the hosts to wrap the points up and move the Blues to the top of Southern Group A.
Kenny Jackett made six changes from the side that were beaten at home by Oldham at the weekend.
Gareth Evans returned to skipper the side at right-back, while Danny Rose and Adam May were recalled in midfield.
Curtis Main led the line and there were also starts in attacking roles for both Kal Naismith and Kyle Bennett.
Pompey’s defensive injury crisis meant that striker Hawkins had to continue partnering Clarke in the centre of defence.
It was a fairly quiet start to proceedings, with neither side managing to create any clear-cut openings.
Bennett had an effort blocked, while Rose’s diagonal pass was just too heavy for Main, allowing Red Devils keeper Yusuf Mersin to claim.
Main did go close on 12 minutes, though, collecting Naismith’s through ball and fizzing an angled drive just past the post.
Crawley then forced Luke McGee into action for the first time midway through the first half, with the keeper doing well to push behind Kaby Djalo’s fierce drive.
But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 30 minutes and it was an impressive goal from CLARKE.
He ran more than half the length of the pitch before feeding Main and was on hand to calmly convert when the striker’s shot was saved.
And his central defensive partner HAWKINS soon doubled the lead, slamming home the loose ball after Main’s header from a Naismith free-kick had been kept out by Mersin.
The visitors then missed an opportunity to reduce the deficit just before the break when Panutche Camara fired wide.
Crawley Town 0
The Red Devils made a bright start to the second half, but a couple of half-chances failed to test McGee.
Ibrahim Meite then took a heavy touch from Sanoh’s dangerous low delivery to waste another decent opening.
And when Sanoh crossed dangerously for a second time, the ball was just out of reach for both Meite and Camara, as the visitors continued to threaten.
The impressive Sanoh had a shot of his own just before the hour mark, but McGee was equal to his powerful effort.
Jackett made a double switch soon after, withdrawing May and Rose for Brandon Haunstrup and Jamal Lowe.
But it was Bennett who had a great chance to wrap the game up when he took the ball past Mersin, only to fire over with the goal gaping.
And Crawley immediately went down the other end to reduce their deficit, with Sanoh racing onto Camara’s flick and sliding past McGee.
But Bennett soon made up for his miss by providing the assist for Pompey’s third goal of the evening on 71 minutes.
He jinked his way into the box and teed-up O’KEEFE to slot home and open his scoring account for the club.
Bennett might have added a gloss to the scoreline late on when he was left unmarked to meet Lowe’s cross, but sent his header wide.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Evans (c), Hawkins, Clarke, Donohue; May (Haunstrup 62), Rose (Lowe 62); O’Keefe (Close 87), Bennett, Naismith; Main
Goals: Clarke 30, Hawkins 34, O’Keefe 71
Subs not used: Bass, Talbot, Kennedy, Chaplin
Crawley (4-2-3-1): Mersin; Tajbakhsh (Lewis 76), McNerney, Yorwerth, Djalo (Smith 87); Payne, Bulman (c); Camara (Boldewijn 76), Clifford, Sanoh; Meite
Goals: Sanoh 65
Subs not used: Morris, Evina, Connolly, Lelan
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 1,527 (44 away fans)
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.
Accrington Stanley 0
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
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)
Transfer : Ipswich Town – Portsmouth
|Matt Clarke will join Pompey from Ipswich in a permanent deal on July 1, with Adam Webster moving in the opposite direction.
The 19-year-old centre-back has agreed a three-year deal with the Blues, who will also receive an undisclosed fee.
Clarke spent the 2015/16 campaign on loan at Fratton Park, scoring once in 33 appearances and is excited about returning.
A couple of loanees ensured they had a two-goal advantage at the break, with Matt Clarke heading the opener before Marc McNulty doubled the advantage.
The Blues dominated for most of the afternoon and got a deserved third when Gary Roberts found the target following excellent work from fellow substitute Ben Tollitt.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew with Luton five days earlier.
Adam Webster returned from suspension to take his place in the centre of defence, with Adam Barton dropping to the bench.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause in memory of former Pompey keeper Pavel Srnicek, who sadly passed away before Christmas at the age of just 47.
There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Darryl Flahavan and Sonny Bradley both starting for the Reds.
The hosts made a bright start and Caolan Lavery could not quite guide Ben Davies’ cross on target with a diving header.
Enda Stevens then delivered a dangerous low centre from the left that Bradley was forced to clear behind.
And the Blues broke the deadlock from the resulting corner, with CLARKE rising highest in the box to guide home Davies’ cross on 13 minutes.
McNulty tried to double the advantage moments later, but sent an angled effort whizzing past the post.
Pompey were totally on top and Kyle Bennett saw his strike blocked after meeting Lavery’s cut-back, while Danny Hollands blazed the loose ball over.
Clarke then met another corner from Davies, although this time his radar was off and the ball flew wide.
Lavery thought he should have been awarded a penalty midway through the first half after tangling with Lewis Young, but referee Dean Whitestone was not quite so convinced.
Stevens was providing a real threat down the left and twice saw low crosses somehow evade his team-mates.
But it proved to be third time lucky on 26 minutes when the left-back picked out McNULTY, who took a touch before sliding the ball past Flahavan.
Crawley were struggling to keep the Blues at bay and it took brave blocks from Young and Bradley to keep out goal-bound efforts from McNulty and Bennett respectively.
The visitors finally carved out an opening on 39 minutes, but after beating Clarke, Roarie Deacon hit his shot straight at Brian Murphy.
Bennett then made a vital challenge to dispossess Luke Rooney on the edge of the box, while Simon Walton hit a long-range free-kick safely into Murphy’s arms.
But most of the action was still happening at the other end of the pitch and Flahavan did well to keep out a strike from Bennett that took a heavy deflection off Jon Ashton.
Then, in stoppage-time, an unmarked Gareth Evans somehow failed to connect with Davies’ cross from just a few yards out.
Crawley Town 0
Pompey picked up where they left off at the start of the second half and Stevens drilled a low shot narrowly wide.
Bennett was next to go close, cutting inside and sending a fierce effort fizzing inches over from the edge of the box.
But the visitors came close to reducing the deficit just past the hour mark, when Davies conceded a free-kick that Gwion Edwards curled against the crossbar.
Crawley were then thankful to Young, who prevented them from falling further behind when he cleared Lavery’s bullet header off the line.
Cook made a double substitution on 67 minutes, with McNulty and Evans making way for Roberts and Tollitt.
Lavery then had a chance to extend the hosts’ advantage when he met a cross from Tollitt, only to send his header sneaking past the far post.
Pompey were not having much to deal with at the other end, although Matt Harrold should at least have found the target when he collected Young’s pass.
And the hosts wrapped up a comfortable victory on 83 minutes after their two substitutes combined to devastating effect.
Tollitt picked the ball up from a Crawley corner and surged almost the full length of the pitch before teeing-up ROBERTS for a cool finish.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Tollitt 67), McNulty (Roberts 67), Bennett; Lavery (Chaplin 85)
Goals: Clarke 13, McNulty 26, Roberts 83
Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Atangana, McGurk
Crawley (4-1-4-1): Flahavan; Young, Yorwerth (Ashton 23), Bradley (c), Hancox; Walton; Deacon, Rooney (Tomlin 77), Smith (Emmanuel 46), Edwards; Harrold
Subs not used: Preston, Bawling, Jenkins, Fenelon
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 16,606 (567 away fans)
Loan : Ipswich Town – Portsmouth
|Pompey have signed Matt Clarke on loan from Championship side Ipswich until January.
The 18-year-old centre-back has already featured three times for the Blues in pre-season and scored in the 2-0 triumph at Woking.
He will wear the number 20 shirt during his time on the south coast.
Clarke is a graduate of Ipswich’s academy and has made five senior appearances for the Tractor Boys.
He made his senior debut at Crawley in a Capital One Cup clash last August.
Both goals arrived in the first half – and both were scored by triallists.
Gareth Evans opened the scoring with a well-taken strike, while Matt Clarke headed home a second minutes later.
There was a new face in the visitors’ side, with triallist Brian Murphy featuring between the sticks following Michael Poke’s loan switch to Eastleigh.
Gary Roberts was handed a start after recovering from a knee injury and had a couple of early chances.
First he curled a free-kick narrowly past the post after Evans had been felled and then scuffed another shot wide.
Conor Chaplin went even closer to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes when he smashed the ball against the underside of the crossbar.
The conditions were not ideal, with heavy rain causing both sets of players to slide on the wet surface.
But it was Pompey who dealt with them better and the visitors forged ahead on 28 minutes.
Kal Naismith found EVANS with an incisive pass and the winger smashed an unstoppable shot past the grasp of Cards keeper Nick Hamann and into the net.
He almost added another moments later, only for Hamann to get down and save, with the ball hacked behind.
But the Blues did double their advantage from the resulting corner, as CLARKE rose to head home an Evans corner.
Pompey continued to dominate as the half drew to a conclusion, but Chaplin blazed wildly over to deny them a third.
Cook made one change at the interval, with Ben Davies replacing fellow triallist Frank van der Struijk at right-back.
The hosts had offered little going forward before the break, but substitute John Goddard threatened after the restart.
Twice he caught the ball sweetly and sent it goalwards and twice he was denied by the well-placed Murphy.
And Murphy made an even better stop to deny the midfielder on 55 minutes, getting down low to his left to palm clear an angled effort.
But the Blues then almost strengthened their advantage, with Evans charging in at the far post to meet Roberts’ pass and seeing his fierce drive just about kept out by substitute stopper Jake Cole.
It was still Woking who were creating more opportunities, although Murphy was not overly troubled by Giuseppe Sole’s strike on 79 minutes.
Pompey finished the game on the front foot, however, with Evans and Enda Stevens both failing to find the target following bright attacking moves.
But they were unable to add to the lead and Woking almost grabbed a late consolation as Scott Rendell’s effort was deflected onto the post.
Woking (3-4-1-2): Hamann (Cole 46); Yakubu, Ricketts (c) (Beckles 75), Saah; Caprice (Kouassi 59), Jones, Poku (Murtagh 46), Arthur; Smith (Goddard 46); Rendell, Banya (Sole 59)
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; van der Struijk (Davies 46), Burgess (Webster 82), Clarke, Stevens; Atangana, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Naismith (Close 73); Chaplin (Haunstrup 82)
Goals: Evans 28, Clarke 32
Subs not used: Jones, Robinson, Hollands
Referee: Charlie Breakspear