End Of Contract
Blues boost promotion hopes
Pompey ran riot at Colchester to strengthen their position inside League Two’s top three.
It was a display of attacking supremacy from the Blues, who arguably deserved to win by more than the four-goal margin.
Eoin Doyle got the ball rolling during a first half that saw the visitors grow stronger as it progressed.
And they moved comfortably through the gears after the interval, as Kyle Bennett, Danny Rose and Michael Doyle all got in on the act.
Paul Cook stuck with the same side that comfortably beat Crawley earlier in the week.
But it was the hosts who made the brighter start and Brennan Dickenson did well down to the left, only to let himself down with the ball into the box.
Pompey soon began to settle and threaten going forward themselves, though, with some neat attacking play.
Eoin Doyle could not quite get on the end of an excellent Carl Baker cross, while a snap-shot from Kal Naismith was safely held by Colchester keeper Sam Walker.
Then when a cross was only partially dealt with by the United defence, Enda Stevens followed up with a volley that Walker was able to collect.
But the Blues did break the deadlock on 22 minutes, with Naismith sending the ball back into the box after his corner had been blocked and Eoin DOYLE heading home from close range.
He was not too far away from adding another soon after, but could not quite get on the end of Bennett’s near-post delivery.
And the on-loan Irishman then capitalised on some hesitancy by George Elokobi to deal with Stevens’ floated pass, only to send his shot over the bar.
Meanwhile, there was little to trouble the visitors at the other end of the pitch, as they comfortably held on to their lead at the break.
Colchester United 0
Colchester replaced Sammie Szmodics with Tarique Fosu at the interval in an attempt to improve their fortunes.
But instead Pompey found themselves further ahead just seconds after the restart – much to the delight of their large travelling army.
And it was BENNETT who doubled his tally for the week when, following good work down the right, Naismith selflessly squared for the winger to tuck home.
United came close to reducing their deficit moments later, but a stretching Chris Porter could not quite reach Dickenson’s cross.
But the Blues were still looking to get forward themselves and when Colchester switched off from a throw, Bennett picked the ball up and neatly side-stepped his man before blazing the shot wide.
Stevens then collected Naismith’s shot free-kick and beat a defender, only to see his arrowed drive deflected just past the post.
United were looking all at sea and it came as no surprise when Pompey extended their advantage further just past the hour mark.
Eoin Doyle did well to slide the ball through to ROSE, who saw his first shot blocked by Walker before neatly dinking home at the second attempt.
The keeper was almost caught out by Naismith moments later, but quickly back-pedalled to claw the ball clear.
Colchester had not created much at the other end and when they finally did get forward, it led to Pompey’s fourth goal.
The visitors broke quickly up the pitch from a corner, with Michael DOYLE surging forward to tuck away his first of the season after Naismith’s initial effort had been saved.
That was Naismith’s last bit of action, as he was immediately replaced by Noel Hunt, with Gary Roberts and Conor Chaplin joining him on the pitch soon after.
And there were no nerves in the closing stages as Pompey comfortably saw the game out to complete an enjoyable afternoon in Essex.
Colchester (4-2-3-1): Walker; Wright (Vincent-Young 66), James, Elokobi, Briggs; Garvan (Bonne 68), Lapslie; Murray, Szmodics (Fosu 46), Dickenson; Porter (c)
Subs not used: Barnes, Wynter, Kinsella, Pyke
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose, M.Doyle (c); Baker, Naismith (Hunt 74), Bennett (Roberts 77); E.Doyle (Chaplin 84)
Goals: E.Doyle 22, Bennett 46, Rose 61, M.Doyle 73
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Linganzi, Lowe
Referee: Darren England
Attendance: 6,504 (2,244 Pompey fans)
Blues suffer home defeat.
Pompey were brought back down to earth with a bump after losing 2-1 at home to Stevenage.
The visitors seemed content to leave Fratton Park with a point as they soaked up pressure from the Blues.
But Steven Schumacher and Matt Godden both struck in quick succession after the break to leave the home fans stunned.
Michael Smith’s third goal in as many games restored some hope, but Pompey were unable to find a leveller.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that won at Luton earlier in the week.
That meant Conor Chaplin had to be content with a place on the bench after returning from suspension, with Smith keeping his place up front.
Pompey made a bright start and a fine cross from Kyle Bennett was just out of reach for Smith running in at the far post.
Bennett went even closer on eight minutes with an effort from the edge of the box that cannoned back off the post.
It was not a half full of clear-cut chances, however, with a solid Boro back-line making it difficult for the Blues to find a way through.
The hosts also had to deal with some rather physical defending and Smith in particular found his shirt being tugged whenever he tried to get on the end of a pass.
But the striker did find some space down the left on 24 minutes, cutting inside and seeing a shot blocked, with Gareth Evans’ follow-up then deflected over.
There was not too much for David Forde to deal with at the other end and when Godden volleyed narrowly wide of the post, the linesman had already raised his flag for offside.
It was still Pompey looking the more likely to break the deadlock, but when Gary Roberts met Carl Baker’s cross he could not get enough power behind his header to test Stevenage keeper Jamie Jones.
There was a surprise at the start of the second half, with Jack Whatmough and Amine Linganzi replacing Christian Burgess and Michael Doyle in a double switch.
It was the Blues who were first to threaten after a ragged opening when Bennett cut in from the left and stung Jones’ fingertips with a fierce shot.
But there was none of the passing fluency that was evident before the break, with the hosts guilty of some sloppy play.
Stevenage were still lacking in ambition, but a foul from Matt Clarke led to Schumacher curling a free-kick narrowly over the bar.
Cook made his last throw of the dice on 68 minutes, trying to inject a fresh attacking impetus by replacing Bennett with Chaplin.
The striker soon had a chance to break the deadlock, but fired over from close range following good work from Smith and Roberts.
But instead it was the visitors who scored against the run of play on 71 minutes, when Pompey failed to clear their lines and Schumacher slotted home.
That proved to be the midfielder’s final kick of the game as he was replaced by Charlie Lee before the game resumed.
It soon got even worse for the Blues, however, as Stevenage regained possession from a miscued Forde clearance and Godden slid the ball through the keeper’s legs.
But some hope was restored 10 minutes from the end when a cross from Evans missed Chaplin, but was lashed home by SMITH at the far post.
Pompey poured forward in search of an equaliser and Roberts hit a low effort narrowly wide on 89 minutes.
But Boro got plenty of men behind the ball to frustrate the Blues and when Whatmough headed against the post in stoppage-time it proved to be the last chance to salvage a point.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess (Whatmough 46), Clarke, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c) (Linganzi 46); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 68); Smith
Goals: Smith 80
Booked: Clarke, Evans
Subs not used: O’Brien, Naismith, Lalkovic, Hunt
Stevenage (4-4-2): Jones; Henry (c), Wilkinson (Wells 46), Franks, Ntlhe; Cowans, Schumacher (Lee 72), King, Gorman (McKirdy 60); Godden, Kennedy
Goals: Schumacher 71, Godden 75
Booked: Gorman, Wilkinson, King
Subs not used: Day, McAnuff, Tonge, Pett
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 15,987 (277 away fans)
Doyle, Burgess, Evans and Bennett on target for Blues.
Pompey fought from behind to beat Dagenham and charge right back into the automatic promotion race.
It looked like being a miserable afternoon in the capital when Ashley Hemmings’ goal ensured the hosts would go in ahead at the break.
But the mood improved in the second half, with Michael Doyle volleying in the equaliser before Christian Burgess headed the Blues into the lead.
Gareth Evans then came off the bench to add his name to the scoresheet late on, with Kyle Bennett capping off a memorable 45 minutes of football.
Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat both Notts County and Carlisle at Fratton Park.
And there was plenty of anticipation among the 1,659 away fans who had made the journey up from the south coast.
But there was not much to excite them in a drab opening to the contest, with neither side looking particularly threatening.
The visitors had a couple of half chances and Daggers keeper Mark Cousins was forced to race from his line to stop Gary Roberts racing onto Adam McGurk’s hooked pass.
Bennett was then neatly released by Enda Stevens down the left, bursting into the box and seeing a shot blocked.
Their best opening arrived on 23 minutes, however, when the hosts failed to deal with a Ben Davies free-kick.
Bennett picked the ball up and floated a cross to the far post, where it was headed clear by Oliver Muldoon, only for Danny Hollands to send a 25-yard volley flying narrowly over the bar.
But that only seemed to spark Dagenham into life and finally create some chances of their own.
Paul Jones did well to deny Matty Cash from point-blank range after the ball had flown through a sea of bodies.
But he could not prevent League Two’s basement side from breaking the deadlock on 34 minutes.
Justin Hoyte’s free-kick was headed on by Christian Doidge for Hemmings, whose acrobatic over-head effort looped over the keeper and into the net.
Dagenham should really have doubled the advantage moments later, but an unmarked Hoyte headed Josh Passley’s cross over.
Pompey were struggling to find any fluency in their forward play, although Michael Smith did hammer a shot narrowly wide just before the break.
Dagenham & Redbridge 1
The visitors had an early chance to draw level when former Blues loanee Passley was penalised for a handball.
Roberts sent a decent delivery into the box, but Matt Clarke could only head it over as he arrived at the far post.
Pompey were unsurprisingly now playing with a lot more urgency and one quick break ended in Davies’ cross having to be cleared behind by Clevid Dikamona.
And the travelling support finally had something to cheer as their side drew level with a fine goal just before the hour mark.
Roberts collected a long ball down the left from Stevens and pinged in a cross that DOYLE met with a fine low volley from just inside the box.
Pompey were not done there, however, and soon heaped more pressure on their shell-shocked opponents.
Bennett was next to threaten after being fed by Smith, but his effort caught a deflection and bobbled wide.
There was an almighty scramble from the resulting corner that ended with Davies sending in a fierce cross that nobody could connect with.
But Dagenham soon caused some concern at the other end, with Stevens forced to hack clear a corner from the line and Oliver Muldoon’s follow-up then held by Jones.
The mood of the Blues support soon switched from concern to joy, however, as the visitors took the lead on 68 minutes.
Davies was fouled wide on the right and Bennett’s free-kick was met by BURGESS, who glanced home a fine header.
Cook made his first switch with 10 minutes remaining, as Evans added some fresh legs to the attack by replacing McGurk.
And it was EVANS who secured the victory when he stole in to head home Bennett’s free-kick from close range.
But there was still time for the result to become even more emphatic as BENNETT deservedly got a goal of his own, jinking into the box before slamming a shot past Cousins.
Dagenham & Redbridge (4-1-4-1): Cousins; Hoyte, Hyam, Dikamona, Widdowson; Muldoon (Cureton 69); Passley (Hawkins 75), Labadie (c), Cash (Boucaud 75), Hemmings; Doidge
Goals: Hemmings 34
Booked: Passley, Doidge, Hoyte
Subs not used: Moore, Pennell, Chambers, McClure
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 80), Roberts (McNulty 89), Bennett (Naismith 89); Smith
Goals: Doyle 59, Burgess 68, Evans 85, Bennett 88
Booked: Doyle, Smith, Clarke
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Chaplin
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 3,122 (1,659 Pompey fans)
Pompey roared back into the automatic promotion race with a convincing victory at high-flying Accrington.
It was a scintillating first half performance – and one particular moment of brilliance – that did the damage.
Kyle Bennett ensured that the Blues made the most of their early dominance by firing them ahead and Matty Pearson’s unfortunate own-goal added to the travelling supporters’ glee.
But they were even happier when a stunning strike from Michael Doyle secured the three points before the interval.
Shay McCartan did grab a late consolation for the hosts, but that failed to dampen the mood of those making the long trip home to the south coast.
Paul Cook made one change from the side that won at Stevenage at the weekend.
It was a straight swap up front, with Michael Smith coming in to lead the line and Marc McNulty dropping to the bench.
Pompey totally dominated the first half, with Gary Roberts pulling the strings for the visitors in midfield.
He even tried a cheeky attempt from just inside the opposition half after just four minutes, although the shot did not overly trouble Jason Mooney in the Stanley goal.
Roberts went closer moments later, though, meeting Ben Davies’ cross with a near-post header that flew into the keeper’s arms.
And he was involved when the Blues did deservedly break the deadlock midway through the first half.
Roberts linked up well down the left with Gareth Evans and when the latter’s low cross was only partially cleared, BENNETT drilled home a low shot off the inside of the post.
Accrington were not causing too many problems at the other end, although Ryan Fulton did make a regulation save to deny Billy Kee.
The visitors were soon back on the attack, however, and Doyle rattled the crossbar with a fierce shot after shaking off a clumsy challenge from Matt Crooks.
Pompey deserved to forge further ahead, but the second goal on 36 minutes did arrive in fortunate fashion.
Danny Hollands picked out Davies with a fine cross-field pass and the right-back’s low delivery was inadvertently turned into his own net by PEARSON.
Piero Mingoia prevented things from getting even worse for the hosts when he just about got to Smith’s cross before Bennett could reach it.
But there was nothing that anybody could do to keep out Pompey’s third goal just before the break.
It was a goal of the season contender from DOYLE, who lashed in an unstoppable 25-yard volley after a free-kick was not properly dealt with.
The Blues skipper was mobbed by his team-mates, while even the beleaguered home support applauded a moment of magic.
Accrington Stanley 0
Accrington replaced skipper Seamus Conneely with Scott Brown in an attempt to get back into the game.
It was still the visitors causing more problems, though, and Pearson had to turn a dangerous Bennett cross behind before it could reach the lurking Smith.
But the Stanley centre-back then almost grabbed his second own-goal of the evening while trying to deal with Davies’ cross, with Mooney just about managing to divert the ball over.
The hosts were looking more of a threat since the restart and there were half-chances for both McCartan and Kee.
Pompey were also proving dangerous going forward, however, and Smith turned Enda Stevens’ low cross narrowly wide on the hour mark.
Cook made his first switch on 73 minutes, with the hard-working Smith making way for McNulty up front.
He then replaced one former Accrington player with another, as Kal Naismith came on for the impressive Roberts.
And Naismith immediately looked to add to the Blues’ lead when he burst forward down the right, but was unable to bend his shot past Mooney.
Pompey looked to be coasting to the final whistle, but Stanley did reduce the deficit when McCartan spun inside the area and slammed the ball home.
That raised a few nerves, but Doyle almost calmed them when Mooney’s clearance landed at his feet and the midfielder’s effort from the halfway line was only just scrambled away by the keeper.
But the Blues had already done enough to secure all three points and leapfrog their opponents into fourth spot.
Accrington (4-2-3-1): Mooney; Wakefield, Davies, Pearson, Halliday; Crooks, Conneely (c) (Brown 46); Mingoia (Boco 67), McCartan, McConville (Shaw 67); Kee
Goals: McCartan 83
Subs not used: Hughes, Procter, Carver, Steenson
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Naismith 78), Bennett (Freeman 83); Smith (McNulty 73)
Goals: Bennett 22, Pearson 36 (og), Doyle 43
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Chaplin
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 1,841 (584 Pompey fans)
Adam McGurk’s stunning strike saw Pompey fight from behind to preserve their unbeaten league record at Oxford.
The forward fired home from long-range after the interval to cancel out Liam Sercombe’s first half opener.
But the Blues had to play out the closing stages with only 10 men after captain Michael Doyle was sent off for a second bookable offence.
Paul Cook made two changes from the side that beat Barnet at Fratton Park the previous week.
With Gary Roberts and Brian Murphy both absent through injury, in came Gareth Evans wide on the right and Paul Jones between the sticks.
It was Pompey who made the brighter start, sending a few deliveries into the box for the hosts to deal with.
They were enjoying plenty of possession, but the final ball was lacking and Sam Slocombe remained untroubled in the Oxford goal.
And United started to grow into the game as the half progressed, finally having the first decent chance on 26 minutes.
Doyle was booked for a foul on Sercombe and Jones was quickly off his line to punch clear the resulting free-kick.
Pompey’s keeper was in action again moments later, this time preventing Danny Hylton from scoring with an angled close-range drive.
The visitors were soon forced into making a substitution, with Conor Chaplin limping off to be replaced by Matt Tubbs.
Hylton then saw his shot deflected behind and it was from the resulting corner that Oxford broke the deadlock.
Rose swung a dangerous cross into the box and Pompey were unable to properly deal with the delivery, leaving Sercombe in space to lash home the loose ball.
The Blues were still not creating much at the other end and a Ben Davies free-kick that curled wide was the closest they came to troubling Slocombe.
United were having more joy, however, and Roofe probably should have guided Callum O’Dowda’s cut-back on target.
Johnny Mullins then met a Rose free-kick on 43 minutes, but Jones palmed away his header and Pompey were able to hack clear.
And Jones came to the rescue again just before the interval, doing well to make himself large and deny Roofe.
Oxford United 1
Cook made a change at the break, with Adam Barton coming on for his first league appearance in place of the below-par Nigel Atangana.
Pompey soon had a chance to draw level when they broke quickly up the pitch and Slocombe did well to stop the onrushing Evans from meeting McGurk’s low cross.
Evans then hooked the ball into the box and McGurk sent a header looping narrowly over the crossbar.
But the Blues’ afternoon was perhaps best summed up on 58 minutes when Kyle Bennett did well to win a corner.
Evans placed the ball down to take what was clearly a well-rehearsed effort, only to roll it straight out of play.
But suddenly – and without looking particularly threatening – Pompey found themselves level.
There did not appear to be much on when McGURK received the ball 30 yards out, but he let fly with a fierce effort that beat Slocombe’s desperate dive and slammed into the net.
The goal seemed to give the visitors a massive lift, although Oxford arguably should have restored their advantage on 69 minutes.
Mullins met George Baldock’s cross with a firm header, but he could only direct the ball straight at Jones.
It was Pompey now looking the more assured side in possession, however, and they forged another good opening on 77 minutes.
A patient passing move ended with McGurk cutting the ball back for Bennett, who was unable to force his shot through a sea of bodies.
But, with the Blues firmly in control, they were reduced to 10 men after Doyle ended a brisk Oxford break by bringing down Sercombe.
Referee Iain Williamson immediately called Pompey’s skipper over and showed him his second yellow card of the afternoon, followed by a red.
However, the Blues saw out the final few minutes with relative ease to take a point back home to the south coast.
Oxford (4-4-2): Slocombe; Baldock, Mullins, Wright (c), Skarz; Rose (Ruffels 71), Sercombe, Lundstram, O’Dowda (MacDonald 40); Roofe (Hoban 82), Hylton
Goals: Sercombe 33
Booked: Hylton, Wright, Ruffels
Subs not used: Buchel, Dunkley, Roberts, Taylor
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Atangana (Barton 46), Doyle (c); Bennett (Hollands 82), Chaplin (Tubbs 30), Evans; McGurk
Goals: McGurk 61
Sent off: Doyle (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Bass, Webster, Naismith, Stockley
Referee: Iain Williamson
Attendance: 9,093 (2,459 Pompey fans)
Doyle on target at Westleigh Park
Michael Doyle netted on his debut as Pompey drew 1-1 with Havant & Waterlooville in their opening friendly at a sunny Westleigh Park.
The visitors had to fight from behind after Adrian Clifton had emphatically headed home before the break.
The Blues looked more dangerous in the second half and Doyle’s finish ensured a share of the spoils.
Boss Paul Cook used 22 players to give most of his first-team squad a work-out against the National League South opposition.
New signings Adam Barton (groin) and Adam McGurk (thigh) were left out as a precaution, while triallists Connor Randall, Gareth Evans, Ben Davies and Theo Robinson were all given a chance to impress.
It was the Blues who were first to threaten with Evans whipping in a cross that Hawks keeper Ryan Young did well to claim.
Randall then found Tubbs in the box, with the striker’s deft flicked header flying inches past the post.
And Christian Burgess was almost an unlikely goal hero, waltzing past a couple of challenges before scuffing a shot straight at Young.
But it was hosts who broke the deadlock midway through the half when Clifton converted Ben Swallow’s free-kick with a bullet header that left Michael Poke helpless.
Pompey were trying to build patiently from the back and enjoyed plenty of possession, but they were not really troubling the Hawks defence.
Jayden Stockley and Tubbs did combine well on 35 minutes, only for the latter to scuff his shot wide.
The striker did do better just before the interval, but his snap-shot was beaten away to safety by Young.
Havant & Waterlooville 1
Cook made 10 changes at the break, with Burgess the only player to remerge after the interval.
And – after surviving an early scare when Matt Paterson fired narrowly wide – the new-boys soon began to take control.
It took a brilliant save from Young to deny Gary Roberts, with the keeper managing to divert his shot over the crossbar.
But DOYLE did level the scores on 48 minutes, driving home from the edge of the box after Kyle Bennett had diverted a corner into his path.
The midfielder almost grabbed another moments later, just failing to find the target following a neat pass from Conor Chaplin.
It was Bennett who was next to go close on 59 minutes, but his header was expertly tipped onto the bar by Young.
The Hawks were struggling to remain on level terms, although they were almost gifted a goal when Adam Webster hit a free-kick back to Paul Jones and the ball bobbled just wide.
But Roberts then almost netted at the right end and Roberts really should have found the target following a mazy run from Theo Robinson.
The action started to wind down after such a frenetic opening, although it was still the visitors looking most likely to add to the scoring.
But they were unable to find another goal as the game petered towards its conclusion.
Hawks: Young (c); Strugnell (Medway 77), Molyneaux (Saunders 46), Harris (Dutton 46), Cummings (Blanchett 46); Swallow (Mullings 46), Donnelly (Kimber 77), Stock (Ridge 86), Ciardini (Gale 46); Clifton (Paterson 46), Morgan (Hayter 46)
Goals: Clifton 21
Pompey: Poke (Jones 46); Randall (Davies 46), P.Robinson (c) (Webster 46), Burgess (Nilsen 77), Haunstrup (Stevens 46), Evans (Chaplin 46 (Tollitt 86)), Atangana (Doyle 46), Hollands (Close 46), Naismith (Bennett 46); Stockley (Roberts 46), Tubbs (T.Robinson 46 (Hassan 86))
Goals: Doyle 48