Apr 262016
 
League 2
AFC Wimbledon 0 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Michael Smith scored the only goal as Pompey won at AFC Wimbledon to guarantee a top-seven finish.

The striker fired home in the first half to settle a match that became extremely stretched in stages.

The Blues had chances to make it a more comfortable finale, but were not made to pay for their profligacy.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that beat Wycombe at the weekend.

Adam Barton was deployed as an emergency centre-back in place of the injured Matt Clarke (groin).

Marc McNulty (hamstring) made way for Smith up front, while Ben Davies dropped to the bench, with Kieron Freeman coming in at right-back.

Kyle Bennett (ankle), Conor Chaplin (groin), Ryan Fulton (thigh), Adam Webster (ankle), Jack Whatmough (back) and Conor Wilkinson (groin) were also sidelined for the visitors.

That meant teenage academy graduates Adam May and Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain were named among the substitutes.

It was a fairly even affair in the opening stages, with both sides looking to get forward, but neither managing to carve out many clear-cut openings.

The best fell to the hosts after eight minutes, but an unmarked Darius Charles guided his header straight at Paul Jones after meeting Callum Kennedy’s corner.

It was a similar story at the other end of the pitch, where Gareth Evans could only divert Freeman’s cross safely into the arms of Kelle Roos.

Gary Roberts then rightly picked up the game’s first booking for a mis-timed challenge on former Pompey winger Andy Barcham.

Team-mate Smith and Tom Elliott, however, seemed rather harshly punished when referee Andy Madley brandished yellow cards to both of them.

But SMITH – just like the large travelling support – was celebrating on 35 minutes when he broke the deadlock.

The home fans thought that Roberts had fouled Sean Rigg in the build-up, but Madley was uninterested and the midfielder fed Smith for a calm finish.

And the striker had the ball in the net again moments later, but this time an infringement was spotted and the goal ruled out.

There was not too many opportunities in a frantic end to the half, although the Pompey fans made their own entertainment by serenading Roberts.

Half Time: AFC Wimbledon 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

There was a surprise at the start of the second half, when Brian Murphy emerged to take Jones’ place between the sticks.

He did well to claim a high ball after the Blues had failed to deal with Barry Fuller’s cross while, moments earlier, Barcham flashed a shot narrowly over.

The visitors had a chance at the other end after ex-Pompey skipper Paul Robinson had been booked for a challenge on Kal Naismith.

He was then picked out by Roberts at the far post, but the winger’s fierce drive was parried clear by Dons keeper Roos.

AFC Wimbledon were causing problems from set-pieces, though, and a free-kick was eventually scrambled clear before a corner was headed over by Elliott.

Another flag-kick then found Charles at the far post, but he headed the ball into the turf and it bounced over the bar.

And Barcham really should have punished his former side just past the hour mark, drilling a shot wide after bursting through on goal.

But Pompey missed a gilt-edged chance of their own on 72 minutes, when Roberts hurriedly shot over despite having time after collecting Evans’ pass.

And, with the Dons committing men forward, they soon had another decent opening, with Fuller well-placed on the line to stop Naismith scoring from point-blank range.

Then, just seconds later, Roberts charged through on goal, but with just Roos to beat, he sent his shot wide.

AFC Wimbledon tried to make their opponents pay for their missed chances, although Connor Smith only received a yellow card for trying to win a penalty.

And the Blues saw out the final few moments to secure all three points and leave the Dons still looking to confirm their spot in the play-offs.

AFC Wimbledon (4-4-2): Roos; Fuller (c), Robinson, Charles, Kennedy; Rigg (Reeves 46), Bulman, Smith, Barcham (Murphy 75); Taylor, Elliott (Azeez 68)
Booked: Elliott, Robinson, Smith
Subs not used: Shea, Sweeney, Fitzpatrick, Akinfenwa

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones (Murphy 46); Freeman, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Naismith; Smith
Goals: Smith 35
Booked: Roberts, Smith
Subs not used: Davies, Haunstrup, Close, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, McGurk

Referee: Andy Madley

Attendance: 4,799 (911 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 162016
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 2 Plymouth Argyle

 

Late goals stun Blues

Pompey were left shell-shocked after somehow managing to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against Plymouth.

Michael Smith’s first half header looked to have wrapped up the points against their promotion rivals at a packed Fratton Park.

The hosts were comfortably holding on for a valuable win, only for Jamille Matt and Gregg Wylde to turn the game on its head late on.

Paul Cook, unsurprisingly, stuck with a winning side, naming the same starting 11 for a fourth match in succession.

There was a minute’s silence before kick-off to remember those who lost their lives in the Battle of Jutland, with the centenary of the naval battle approaching.

It was the visitors who got off to a brighter start when the game started and they had two good chances in the opening stages.

They both came from corners, with the first headed against the inside of the post by Carl McHugh on four minutes.

It was centre-back Peter Hartley who connected with this second, but Enda Stevens was well stationed on the post to clear the danger.

But Pompey grew stronger as the half progressed, putting their opponents under the cosh by pressing high up the pitch.

The home fans were baying for a red card when Argyle keeper Luke McCormick slid out of the box with the ball in his hands, but referee Christopher Sarginson rightly opted for a yellow one.

Kyle Bennett teed-up a chance for Michael Doyle on 29 minutes, but the skipper bent his effort narrowly wide.

Gary Roberts then showed great footwork just inside the box, only to see his shot curl onto the roof of the net.

There was a bit of needle creeping into the game as the interval approached, with a few niggly challenges.

But Fratton Park erupted on 37 minutes when the build-up of Pompey pressure finally resulted in a goal.

It was SMITH who scored it, stooping to head the ball into the bottom corner after Matt Clarke had sent a cross into the box.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Plymouth 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The scrappy element of the contest was on display again early in the second half, with Doyle and Hartley both booked for fouls.

It was the Blues who had the first opening following the restart after the Pilgrims failed to properly deal with Stevens’ low delivery.

The ball fell to the tireless Danny Hollands on the edge of the box and his low drive was deflected inches past the post.

Plymouth were opened up with another neat move just past the hour mark, but after Roberts had flicked Doyle’s pass into Stevens’ path, the left-back lifted a shot over the bar.

Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with Adam McGurk making way for Gareth Evans wide on the right.

And the hosts almost doubled their advantage moments later, with Christian Burgess turning Bennett’s free-kick wide from close range.

Plymouth had not threatened since the break, but Paul Jones was called into action on 72 minutes, diving to his right to turn Graham Carey’s shot around the post.

A second substitution soon followed, as Marc McNulty came on for Roberts in the Blues’ attack.

There were a few nervy moments as the seconds ticked down, but Pompey were looking dangerous on the break, with Smith firing one shot wide and seeing another saved by McCormick.

But Argyle deflated the vibrant mood around the ground by levelling on 84 minutes, with Matt heading in Carey’s corner.

And it was Carey who provided the assist for Plymouth’s second goal moments later, clipping the ball back for Wylde to slam home.

There was hope of salvaging something from the game when the fourth official displayed five minutes of stoppage-time.

But despite throwing on an extra forward in the shape of Conor Chaplin, Pompey were unable to find a leveller.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies (Chaplin 89), Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Evans 67), Roberts (McNulty 76), Bennett; Smith
Goals: Smith 37
Booked: Doyle, Burgess
Subs not used: Murphy, Webster, Close, Naismith

Plymouth (4-diamond-2): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Purrington (Wylde 70); Carey, McHugh, Houghton, Boateng; Jervis (Reid 78), Matt
Goals: Matt 84, Wylde 86
Booked: McCormick, McHugh, Hartley
Subs not used: Dorel, Bentley, Tanner, Harvey, Rooney

Referee: Christopher Sarginson

Attendance: 18,423 (2,405 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Apr 022016
 
League 2
Portsmouth 1 – 0 Carlisle United

Smith grabs winner for Blues

Michael Smith was on target as Pompey saw off Carlisle to make it back-to-back victories.

Following a slow first half, the Blues were much better after the break and created a number of opportunities.

They were only able to take one – with Smith sliding home from a tight angle – but that proved enough to claim all three points.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that comprehensively beat Notts County on Good Friday.

And they got off to an encouraging start as Gary Roberts met Adam McGurk’s cross, only to see his goal-bound header blocked before it could reach its intended target.

Kyle Bennett then sent in a decent delivery following good work down the left, but it was headed clear and Danny Hollands’ volleyed the loose ball over.

And Ben Davies was not too far away when he attempted a free-kick from 35 yards, curling the ball narrowly past the post.

Carlisle’s first proper chance arrived on 14 minutes and Mark Ellis should have at least hit the target when he was found in space inside the box.

There were not an abundance of chances to get the crowd of their feet, although the hosts were trying their best to up the tempo with some pressing high up the pitch.

United keeper Mark Gillespie did well to claim the ball just underneath his crossbar after Enda Stevens’ cross took a wicked deflection off Tom Miller.

Jason Kennedy had a couple of chances at the other end of the pitch, but dragged one effort wide before failing to find the target from a tight angle.

And, just before the break, Stevens received the first booking of the game following a crude lunge on Brandon Comley.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Carlisle 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The Blues came quickly out of the traps, but Gillespie claimed Christian Burgess’ dangerous cross and then saved Bennett’s shot at his near post.

And it was another effort from Bennett that led to the hosts breaking the deadlock on 57 minutes.

After some patient passing build-up, the winger’s curler from the edge of the box was spilled by Gillespie and SMITH forced the ball home from an acute angle.

Pompey might have added another moments later, but Roberts could not get enough power on his shot and it was comfortably saved.

There was still an attritional element to proceedings, however, with plenty of fouls to break up the flow of the game.

Carlisle threw on a couple of extra strikers in Derek Asamoah and Jabo Ibehre to try to find a leveller.

But the Blues were inches away from doubling their advantage following a quick counter-attack on 79 minutes.

Paul Jones punched a corner clear and Pompey broke up the pitch, with Michael Doyle and Roberts combining to tee-up McGurk, who burst through on goal and fired against the base of the post.

And both sides then had excellent chances to add to the scoring in a hectic couple of minutes.

First, Smith was denied by a fine save by Gillespie, with Danny Grainger getting across quickly to stop McGurk converting the loose ball.

United immediately went up the other end of the pitch, where Hallam Hope somehow failed to connect with Derek Asamoah’s cross at the far post.

It was Pompey who looked the more likely to score in the closing stages, but Jabo Ibehre wasted a great chance to level at the death when he hooked over from inside the box.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (McNulty 89), Roberts (Naismith 86), Bennett (Evans 90+3); Smith
Goals: Smith 57
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Fulton, Webster, Close, Chaplin

Carlisle (4-2-3-1): Gillespie; Miller, Raynes, Ellis (Ibehre 77), Grainger (c); Comley (Asamoah 68), Joyce; Stacey (Gilliead 59), Kennedy, Hope; Wyke
Booked: Raynes
Subs not used: Hanford, Atkinson, Gillesphey, Sweeney

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 15,416 (361 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 132016
 

Portsmouth 3 v 1 Bristol Rovers

Pompey returned to form in stunning style as they romped to victory over promotion rivals Bristol Rovers.

They had already carved out a host of opportunities when Gareth Evans broke the deadlock midway through the first half.

Michael Smith then opened his Blues account by converting a cross from the excellent Ben Davies just before the interval.

And Marc McNulty came off the bench to add a third in the second half for the rampant hosts.

The margin of victory could – and perhaps should – have been greater, but a combination of wasteful finishing and superb goalkeeping denied them even more goals.

And a fine free-kick from Lee Brown late on for the visitors proved nothing more than a consolation.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side beaten by Leyton Orient the previous week.

Evans replaced McNulty, as Pompey reverted to a more familiar 4-2-3-1 system, with Smith leading the line.

There were also a couple of switches in the defence, as Kieron Freeman and Matt Clarke made way for Davies and Adam Webster.

The first half was an entertaining, end-to-end affair, although it was the hosts who carved out the better chances.

Pirates keeper Steve Mildenhall made a stunning save in the opening seconds, somehow managing to claw away Christian Burgess’ header.

That came from a Davies corner and the right-back delivered another cross moments later that was nervously dealt with by the visitors’ defence.

The Blues certainly looked hungry and one flowing passing move involved Smith, Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts, but the latter’s cut-back was intercepted.

Mildenhall was then Rovers’ saviour once more, this time doing well to deny Bennett at his near post.

But the keeper could do nothing to prevent Pompey from taking a deserved lead on 19 minutes.

Smith played a superb cross-field pass to Davies and his ball into the box was deftly flicked home by EVANS.

Rory Gaffney came close to levelling when he rattled the crossbar at the other end, although it would have been a controversial goal, as Roberts was lying injured on the turf.

Rovers had certainly grown into the game and it took a fine challenge by Webster to halt Daniel Leadbitter’s dangerous run.

It was still Pompey looking most dangerous, however, and Smith could not quite sneak a shot past Mildenhall after collecting Webster’s raking pass.

Evans and Roberts should both have done better late in the half, with the duo failing to find the target from close range.

But any feelings of frustration were lifted when the hosts did double their advantage in the third minute of stoppage-time.

It was Davies who provided the assist once again, collecting the loose ball after his corner had been blocked and picking out SMITH to head home his first Blues goal.

Half Time: Pompey 2 Bristol Rovers 0

Evans had an early attempt once the second half got underway and Mildenhall had to tip the ball over the bar.

He then tried a more acrobatic effort after connecting with Bennett’s cross, but this time it flew wide.

The visitors were looking nervous and Tom Lockyer had to hack clear after Mildenhall and Tom Parkes made a mess of dealing with Davies’ low cross on 50 minutes.

And Smith really should have added to his goalscoring account soon after, somehow sliding wide from a few yards out when Roberts’ pass found him unmarked in the box.

The same duo then combined again, but this time Mildenhall came tearing off his line to deny Smith.

Cook made his first change on 69 minutes and it was the tiring Smith who made way for McNulty up front.

Adam McGurk then came on for the impressive Roberts as the game began to drift towards a conclusion.

But it exploded back into life on 77 minutes when McNULTY latched onto Bennett’s threaded pass and slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

It almost got worse for the ailing Pirates, only for Mildenhall to once again make a stunning save to deny Evans from point-blank range.

McGurk almost got in act as well, but his curling effort was diverted over the bar by the head of Brown.

Instead it was Rovers who grabbed a late consolation when Brown hammered home a ferocious free-kick from the edge of the box.

But that failed to dampen the spirits of the Fratton faithful, who saw their side return to the top seven on a comfortable afternoon.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Close, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 75), Bennett (Chaplin 86); Smith (McNulty 69)
Goals: Evans 19, Smith 45+3, McNulty 77
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Tollitt

Bristol Rovers (4-3-3): Mildenhall; Leadbitter, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Sinclair, Mansell (c) (Montano 55), Lawrence (Lines 77); Bodin, Gaffney, Easter (Taylor 55)
Goals: Brown 90+1
Booked: Easter, Brown, Montano, Lockyer
Subs not used: Puddy, McChrystal, Clarke, Fallon

Referee: Trevor Kettle

Attendance: 17,808 (2,863 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 012016
 
IN
Michael Smith

(24)
Swindon Town


Pompey have signed striker Michael Smith on a 93-day loan deal from Swindon

The 24-year-old will wear the number 21 shirt during his time at Fratton Park and is available for selection at Morecambe on Tuesday.

Smith joined the Robins in the summer of 2014 and has scored 26 goals in 72 appearances, while he spent time at Barnsley earlier in the current campaign.

He previously featured for Darlington and Charlton, and netted against Pompey during a spell on loan at AFC Wimbledon in 2013.

Portsmouth FC