Oct 042016
 

EFL Trophy


 

Portsmouth    2

 


 

Reading U23    2

 


Blues lose penalty shoot out

Curtis Main bagged a brace as Pompey fought from two goals down to draw with Reading U23s in the Checkatrade Trophy.

But it was the visitors who claimed a bonus point by winning a marathon penalty shoot-out, despite the heroics of goalkeeper Liam O’Brien.

Andrija Novakovich’s early finish and a Joseph Mendes penalty looked to have secured victory for the visitors.

But Main struck twice – the second of which was a fine first time finish – to haul the Blues level at a sparsely-populated Fratton Park.

The match attracted a crowd of just 1,355 – comfortably Pompey’s lowest post-war attendance for a competitive home fixture.

Paul Cook rung the changes for their second group stage fixture, with Matt Clarke the only player to keep his place from Saturday’s league defeat to Doncaster.

But they got off to a poor start, with the visitors breaking the deadlock after just six minutes.

Mendes showed blistering pace to latch onto Liam Kelly’s pass and coolly laid the ball back for Novakovich to slot home.

Most of the first half action then took place at the other end of the pitch, although the Blues never really tested keeper Anssi Jaakkola.

Thomas McIntyre did well to nip in and intercept a threaded pass from skipper Kyle Bennet before it could reach Michael Smith.

The two Blues players combined well again moments later, but after swapping neat passes the striker scuffed his shot wide.

Bennett then teed-up Adam Buxton down the right and the full-back’s cross had to be diverted behind by Danzell Gravenberch with Main waiting to pounce.

Pompey’s best chance of the half fell to Milan Lalkovic on 23 minutes, with his goal-bound effort just about scrambled to safety.

The Royals did threaten at the other end moments later, but O’Brien was able to gather Dominic Samuel’s fierce low drive at the other end.

And Ben Close hit a similarly powerful shot of his own, only for the ball to narrowly clear the crossbar.

But the Blues were dealt a blow just before the break when Buxton went down following a 50/50 challenge and had to be replaced by Gareth Evans.


Half Time

(0 – 1)


Pompey had a chance to level moments after the restart, but Jaakkola was wise to Evans’ neat flick after Bennett had sent a corner towards the near post.

Instead, they found themselves further behind when referee Oli Langford spotted an Amine Linganzi handball in the box.

Mendes stepped up to take the spot-kick and smashed the ball high into the net, giving O’Brien – who guessed the right way – no chance.

It did not take long for the hosts to reduce their deficit, however, as MAIN slid in to squeeze Evans’ cross past Jaakkola.

And it was MAIN who drew the Blues level just past the hour mark, converting Bennett’s pass with a fine first time finish into the bottom corner.

The striker was denied the chance to complete his hat-trick, though, as he was soon withdrawn for Kal Naismith.

Reading still had chances of their own as the game entered its closing stages and O’Brien got down well to save Novakovich’s deflected effort.

It was Pompey looking the more threatening, however, and Smith was inches away from meeting Naismith’s teasing cross.

Jaakkola then failed to hold substitute Adam May’s thumping strike and was relieved to see the ball land safe.

And it took a vital last-gasp challenge from Gravenberch to prevent Smith from being sent clear by Bennett’s incisive pass.

But the Royals wasted a glorious opportunity to snatch a stoppage-time winner when an unmarked Tyler Frost fired straight at O’Brien from just a few yards out.

That meant a penalty shoot-out would be held to see which team walked away with an additional point.

Smith, Naismith and Evans all scored, but Jaakkola denied both Bennett and Lalkovic and it looked like that was that.

O’Brien made a couple of stops of his own to take it to sudden death, however – and made another fine save to keep out Tennai Watson’s effort.

But May and Jack Whatmough both failed to beat Jaakkola, allowing Frost the chance to secure Reading an additional point.

Pompey (4-4-2): O’Brien; Buxton (Evans 44), Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup; Bennett (c), Linganzi, Close (May 73), Lalkovic; Smith, Main (Naismith 69)
Goals: Main 57, 63
Subs not used: Hall, T.Davies, Oxlade-Chamberlain

Reading U23 (4-4-2): Jaakkola (c); Watson, Gravenberch, McIntyre (Griffin 18), Blackett; Rinomhota, Frost, Kelly, Samuel; Novakovic (Richards 78), Mendes
Goals: Novakovic 6, Mendes 52 (pen)
Booked: Rinomhota
Subs not used: Moore, Vancooten, East, Bennett, Cardwell

Referee: Oli Langford

Attendance: 1,355 (133 away fans)


Portsmouth FC

Oct 012016
 

League Two


 

Portsmouth    1

 


 

Doncaster Rovers    2

 


Blues slip to first home defeat

Pompey suffered their first home defeat of the season despite a spirited fightback against Doncaster.

The visitors took advantage of their slow start to cruise into a two-goal lead, courtesy of strikes from John Marquis and Andy Williams.

But Carl Baker reduced the arrears before the interval and the Blues poured forward after it in search of a leveller.

They hit the woodwork and had another effort cleared from the line, but were unable to make another breakthrough.

Paul Cook made one change from the side beaten at Blackpool earlier in the week.

That came at the back, where Tom Davies dropped to the bench to make way for Matt Clarke.

Pompey looked to make a fast start, but Gary Roberts strayed narrowly offside when Conor Chaplin tried to send him through on goal.

Instead they fall behind on seven minutes after David Forde came tearing out of his area to mop up a long ball over the top.

It was former Blues loanee Marquis who got their first, however, taking the ball past the keeper and then slotting it into an empty net.

They might have doubled their advantage soon after, but Williams mis-cued his effort and Forde made a comfortable save.

Baker then went close at the other end, drawing a stop from Marko Marosi, despite being surrounded by three defenders the moment he was teed-up by Enda Stevens

And Chaplin wasted a decent opportunity by scuffing his shot after Kal Naismith had expertly brought the ball down on the edge of the box.

Pompey were looking sloppy, however, and guilty of gifting Doncaster possession on far too many occasions.

They fell further behind on 34 minutes, with Williams afforded to space to collect a deep free-kick, swivel and find the net.

The hosts finally clicked into gear towards the end of the first half and thought they should have won a penalty.

Gareth Evans went down in the box under pressure from Tommy Rowe, but referee Darren Deadman decided he had dived and brandished a yellow card, much to the chagrin of Pompey’s right-back.

Baker almost reduced the deficit on 38 minutes with a fierce 30-yard strike that was superbly tipped over by Marosi.

A low Roberts cross was then almost turned into his own net by Cedric Evina and the left-back must have breathed a sigh of relief when he saw the ball instead go behind for a corner.

But Pompey finally made a breakthrough just before the interval, although they did receive a slice of good fortune.

Evans’ cross appeared to be going behind, but Jordan Houghton inexplicably kept it in play, laying the ball on a plate for BAKER to emphatically fire into the roof of the net.


Half Time

(1 – 2)


Chaplin started an attack when he stole the ball from Matty Blair and launched a quick counter-attack after the restart.

He then fed Roberts’ down the left, but the midfielder’s return pass to the far post was headed to safety.

It was then Doncaster’s turn to threaten, with Michael Doyle intercepting Marquis’ cross before the striker bent another effort narrowly wide.

Cook made a double switch on 54 minutes, with Naismith and Danny Rose making way for Milan Lalkovic and Amine Linganzi.

Rovers were still in the ascendency, though, and Doyle made a crucial block after Williams had skipped past a couple of challenges.

But Chaplin had an excellent opportunity to equalise just past the hour mark. He was picked out unmarked in the box by Roberts, but had to adjust his body and was unable to divert the ball on target.

Christian Burgess then headed wide from close range following another excellent delivery from Roberts.

Cook made his final throw of the dice on 71 minutes, with Curtis Main given a chance to impress against his former side in place of Chaplin.

It was Baker who almost levelled moments late, though, when he diverted Lalkovic’s shot against the crossbar.

And Main was then unable to beat Marosi from point-blank range after Evans’ cross had been turned back into the centre by Roberts.

Rovers soon had a chance at the other end when Clarke mis-hit the ball, but Forde came to the rescue with a smart save.

But it was largely one-way traffic and Pompey thought they had found an equaliser on 81 minutes.

Roberts met Baker’s cross with a firm header, only for it to be hacked clear by Andy Butler, despite blue-shirted appeals that the ball had crossed the line.

The display of six additional minutes provided some hope for the Fratton faithful, but the Blues were unable to salvage a point.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Rose (Linganzi 54), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Naismith (Lalkovic 54); Chaplin (Main 71)
Goals: Baker 42
Booked: Evans
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Bennett, Smith

Doncaster (4-1-2-1-2): Marosi; Richardson (Calder 29 (Mason 69)), Wright, Butler, Evina; Houghton; Blair, Rowe; Coppinger (c) (Middleton 76); Marquis, Williams
Goals: Marquis 7, Williams 34
Booked: Butler, Evina, Marquis
Subs not used: Etheridge, Baudry, Mandeville, Beestin

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 16,950 (449 away fans)


Portsmouth FC

Sep 272016
 

League Two

3 – 1


More away day Blues

Pompey’s poor away form continued as they slipped to a 3-1 defeat at Blackpool.

Just three days after their Fratton Park rout of Barnet, it was back down to earth with a bump.

They recovered from falling behind to Kelvin Mellor’s header, thanks to an impressive Conor Chaplin leveller.

But some sloppy second half defending allowed Brad Potts and Kyle Vassell to secure all three points for the Tangerines.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat the Bees so emphatically at the weekend.

It was Pompey who made the brighter start in a game that was played out amidst an eerily-quiet atmosphere at a sparsely-populated Bloomfield Road.

Enda Stevens delivered a dangerous low cross that Dean Lyness did well to gather in the opening stages.

Gary Roberts then just failed to meet a Carl Baker delivery, while Michael Doyle’s drive was deflected safely into the arms of the Tangerines keeper.

There were also long-range attempts from Kal Naismith and Baker that both narrowly failed to find their intended target.

So it came as a surprise when Blackpool forged ahead against the run of play on 18 minutes.

David Forde charged from his line to meet Jack Payne’s free-kick, but Mellor got there first to head into the unguarded net.

The goal seemed to shake the Blues, who suddenly became sloppy in possession and looked increasingly susceptible on the counter-attack.

One good move saw them win a corner, only for Blackpool to break straight up the other end of the pitch and almost double their advantage, with Vassell’s effort clipping the outside of the post.

The powerful presence of Armand Gnanduillet was also causing problems and Doyle was forced to intervene when the striker got past both Christian Burgess and Tom Davies.

But then, for the second time in the first half, it was the team on the back foot that found the net.

And it was a goal worth the long journey up from the south coast, with CHAPLIN scoring in spectacular fashion on 34 minutes.

Naismith failed to connect with Roberts’ cross, but Danny Rose did and when his shot was blocked, the ball spun up invitingly for Pompey’s teenage striker to convert with an acrobatic over-head effort.

Blackpool did have a chance to restore their lead before the interval, only for Forde to get down to his left and keep out Potts’ drive.


Half Time

(1 – 1)


Chaplin tried another ambitious attempt seconds after the restart, only this time the ball went out for a Blackpool throw.

It was closer when the visitors won a corner moments later, but Roberts’ delivery was just out of reach for Davies at the far post.

Instead they found themselves behind on 49 minutes, thanks to some more sloppy defending from the Blues.

Blackpool stole possession on the left and although Forde palmed out Vassell’s cross, the ball landed at the feet of Potts for a tap-in.

Pompey tried to find an instant response and Roberts flung himself at a Stevens cross, but could not quite squeeze his header past Lyness.

They went close again on 64 minutes when Baker was fouled 25 yards out and Naismith’s curling free-kick was deflected narrowly wide.

But the Blues then gifted their opponents another goal moments later after Doyle passed the back to Davies.

The centre-back was caught in possession by Vassell, who burst forward before slotting the ball past Forde.

And the same player almost added a fourth goal within seconds, but this time headed over the crossbar.

Cook immediately made his first substitution, with Baker making way for Kyle Bennett in Pompey’s attack.

And Michael Smith then replaced Stevens, as Pompey tried to force something by throwing on another striker.

There were half-chances for both as the seconds ticked down, with the former flashing a shot wide and the second forcing a save from Lyness.

But there was still time for late drama at the other end when Vassell skipped past Doyle and burst through on goal.

Forde charged from his line and appeared to take both ball and man, with the linesman flagging for a penalty, only to be overruled by referee David Webb.

The Blues breathed a sigh of relief, but there was no cause for any smiles as the issue of their contrasting home and away fortunes continued.

Blackpool (4-4-1-1): Lyness; Mellor, Aldred, Robertson (Aimson 46), Taylor (c); Potts (Cain 90+3), Payne, McAlister, Philliskirk; Vassell; Gnanduillet (Matt 76)
Goals: Mellor 18, Potts 49, Vassell 65
Booked: Gnanduillet
Subs not used: Boney, Yeates, Osayi-Samuel, Cullen

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens (Smith 78); Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Bennett 67), Roberts, Naismith; Chaplin (Main 84)
Goals: Chaplin 34
Booked: Bennett, Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Lalkovic

Referee: David Webb

Attendance: 3,055 (737 Pompey fans)


Portsmouth FC

Sep 242016
 

League Two

5 – 1


Five goal Blues fight back

Pompey returned to winning ways in emphatic fashion as they crushed Barnet at Fratton Park.

But they had to fight from behind after John Akinde fired the visitors ahead from the penalty spot.

Gary Roberts teed-up Conor Chaplin to draw them level before the break and then got on the scoresheet himself early in the second half.

The Blues were rampant by this point and goals from Carl Baker, Milan Lalkovic and Danny Rose secured a comfortable victory.

Roberts should have added another in the midst of all that, only to see his penalty saved after Bira Dembele had been sent off for a foul on Chaplin.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that were beaten at Accrington the previous week.

There were starts for Chaplin up front and Kal Naismith out wide, with Michael Smith and Kyle Bennett both dropping to the bench.

Pompey started brightly and Chaplin had a shot blocked by Curtis Weston before Enda Stevens’ cross had to be turned behind.

The duo were both involved in the next opening on 12 minutes, with a low Stevens delivery just out of reach for the Blues’ striker sliding in at the near post.

Gareth Evans then got free down the right, but his cross landed behind Baker, who could only hook over the crossbar.

Barnet were causing problems themselves, however, and David Forde charged from his area to beat Akinde to the ball.

Weston then got past Christian Burgess and into the Blues box, but the defender recovered well to avert the danger.

Tom Davies almost opened his Pompey account at the other end, as Baker’s cross hit him in the chest and landed safely in the arms of Bees keeper Josh Vickers.

But the centre-back conceded a penalty soon after, with referee Darren England deciding he had used his hand to clear Ryan Watson’s corner.

Akinde stepped up to take the spot-kick and although the former Blues striker’s shot was poor, it crept under Forde’s dive and into the net.

The same player might have doubled their advantage on 32 minutes, only to head Watson’s corner over from close range.

Instead it was the home fans celebrating as their side drew level, with Roberts acting as the magician and CHAPLIN the assassin.

The former did well to steal possession and then played a sumptuous pass through to the latter, who coolly slid the ball home.

Pompey had another chance before the break, but when Baker’s effort was blocked, an audacious over-head strike from Chaplin flew wide.


Half Time

(1 – 1)


Barnet came flying out of the traps after the restart and it took a great challenge from Burgess to halt Jamal Campbell-Ryce’s surging run.

But the Blues should then have forged ahead, with Roberts somehow failing to connect with Stevens’ teasing low cross.

ROBERTS certainly made amends moments later, however, turning Michael Nelson and leaving him on the floor before hammering home.

And it soon got even better for the hosts, as BAKER collected the ball on the right, cut inside and curled an exquisite left-foot shot past Vickers’ grasp and into the net.

Pompey should have extended their lead further on 65 minutes when England awarded them a penalty.

Chaplin charged into the box and went down under Dembele’s challenge, with the official signalling that he had been tugged to the floor.

It got worse for the beleaguered Bees, as a red card was harshly produced and the defender had to trudge back to the dressing room.

Roberts stepped up to try to continue his prolific scoring spell, but Vickers flung himself to the left to beat the ball clear.

Cook made a double switch on 73 minutes, with Naismith and Chaplin receiving standing ovations as they were replaced by Lalkovic and Curtis Main.

And it was LALKOVIC who soon put the icing on the cake, receiving the ball on the edge of the box and neatly bending it right into the bottom corner.

Pompey refused to sit back and kept pouring forward in search of more goals to heap further misery on Barnet.

And the fifth did arrive in stoppage-time, as a neat passing move cut open the Bees defence before ROSE slotted home to cap a memorable afternoon on the south coast.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Bennett 80), Roberts, Naismith (Lalkovic 73); Chaplin (Main 73)
Goals: Chaplin 34, Roberts 50, Baker 56, Lalkovic 78, Rose 90+2
Booked: Chaplin, Roberts
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Smith

Barnet (4-3-3): Vickers; Vilhete, Nelson (c), Dembele, Johnson; Watson (Batt 55), Weston, Taylor; Campbell-Ryce (N’Gala 64), Akinde, Akpa Akpro (Gambin 55)
Goals: Akinde 27 (pen)
Sent off: Dembele
Booked: Watson, Batt
Subs not used: Stephens, Sesay, Kyei, Nicholls

Referee: Darren England

Attendance: 16,280 (275 away fans)


Portsmouth FC

Sep 172016
 

League Two

1 – 0


Run comes to an end

A moment of magic from Paddy Lacey secured Accrington all three points in an otherwise turgid encounter with Pompey.

The midfielder’s stunning second half strike was one of the few occasions when either side looked like scoring at a sunny Crown Ground.

There was a late surge for the visitors as they tried to secure a share of the spoils, but they were unable to find an equaliser.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that beat Wycombe at Fratton Park the previous week.

Michael Smith came in for the injured Curtis Main up front, while Milan Lalkovic dropped to the bench to make way for Kyle Bennett on the left.

Pompey had a chance to break the deadlock with just three minutes on the clock when Carl Baker whipped in a dangerous cross from the right.

The ball found Gary Roberts standing unmarked at the far post, but the midfielder rolled his shot wide of the post.

Anyone who thought that would signal the start of an incident-packed half was to be left disappointed, however.

In fact, neither goalkeeper had to make a save of note, with both sides struggling to make an impact in the final third.

David Forde confidently dealt with a couple of Accrington crosses, while a Billy Kee free-kick failed to find its way through the wall.

The Blues did place the ball into some dangerous positions from out wide, but there was nobody in the box to make the most of them.

Meanwhile, the Stanley coaching staff were starting to grow frustrated by a couple of bewildering free-kick decisions that went the way of the visitors.

Pompey did wake everyone up with a decent opportunity on 33 minutes, but Michael Doyle – diving forward inside the box – could not quite guide Baker’s cross on target.

And the Blues then almost gifted Accrington the opener from a Sean McConville free-kick just before the break.

It was Christian Burgess who rose to meet it and inadvertently sent the ball against his own post before it was hurriedly scrambled clear.


Half Time

(0 – 0)


The match continued in the same turgid vein after the restart and a free-kick from Roberts failed to beat the first man.

But a rare moment of quality saw the hosts break the deadlock on 52 minutes, with Lacey hitting a stunning long-range strike that left Forde with no chance.

That certainly provided Accrington with a shot of confidence and Kee ran at the Blues back-line before hitting a tame shot straight at the keeper.

Pompey tried to mount a response and Aaron Chapman dealt with a couple of crosses, while Doyle hit a fierce drive over the crossbar.

Cook decided the time was right to make a change just past the hour mark, with Conor Chaplin replacing Danny Rose to provide a foil for Smith up front.

And another substitution soon followed, as Baker made way to give Kal Naismith a chance to impress against his former club

The third and final switch then came on 70 minutes, with Roberts coming off and Lalkovic the man charged with providing some attacking impetus.

He was soon involved in the action, but could not quite keep the ball in play after Enda Stevens’ cross had been flicked on by Smith.

Naismith then showcased a fine bit of skill to beat his man on the right, although his cross was slightly too high for Smith, who could only head over.

And Bennett turned his defender inside out on 82 minutes, sending in a fine delivery that a tightly-marked Naismith was unable to convert.

Pompey were applying some late pressure and a fizzing low Stevens cross was agonisingly out of reach for a number of black-shirted team-mates.

It was too little, too late, however, as the Blues’ impressive winning run ended with a whimper.

Accrington (4-2-3-1): Chapman; Vyner, Beckles, Pearson, Donacien; Lacey (Hewitt 80), Conneely (c); O’Sullivan (Boco 62), Clark, McConville; Kee
Goals: Lacey 52
Booked: McConville
Subs not used: Parish, Jones, Hughes, Eagles, Gornell

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose (Chaplin 63), Doyle (c); Baker (Naismith 67), Roberts (Lalkovic 70), Bennett; Smith
Booked: T.Davies
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Hunt

Referee: Mark Haywood

Attendance: 2,461 (806 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC

Sep 102016
 

League Two

4 – 2


Blues move up to second

Pompey fought from behind against Wycombe to stretch their winning streak to four league matches.

Paul Hayes’ opener was not in the script, but Christian Burgess’ leveller lifted everyone and Gary Roberts then converted a penalty.

An equaliser from Hayes dampened the mood, but a superb Conor Chaplin strike restored the Blues’ lead before the break and Carl Baker made sure of the points after it.

Paul Cook unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Crawley so convincingly the previous week.

It was the hosts who threatened first at a damp and gloomy Fratton Park, with showers frequently interrupting proceedings.

Gary Roberts slipped a quick free-kick through to Milan Lalkovic, but his cut-back was well claimed by Jamal Blackman with Curtis Main waiting to pounce.

The Wycombe keeper was pretty conspicuous with his bleached blonde hair and decked out in a garish pink and luminous green kit.

But it was his opposite number who was next called into action and David Forde denied Aaron Pierre after a Sam Wood cross had caused chaos in the Blues box.

And the visitors were ahead on 10 minutes, with Hayes left in too much space to convert Garry Thompson’s volleyed delivery.

That appeared to spark Pompey into life, although they were growing frustrated at the Chairboys’ attempts to slow things down.

There were cries from the crowd and bench that the visitors were spending too long over set-pieces and referee Tim Robinson was forced to calm an irate Cook down.

And the Blues soon started doing their talking on the pitch, with Main’s header deflected over by Pierre after Baker had picked the striker out.

Unfortunately, Main injured himself during the challenge and was forced to disappear down the tunnel to be patched up.

But he failed to reappear, and Chaplin was brought on to replace him – but not before Wood had almost doubled Wanderers’ lead with an effort that bounced off the crossbar and into the arms of a grateful Forde.

The Blues were starting to take control of proceedings and the newcomer saw his curling effort blocked.

Lalkovic was then unable to dig the ball out from under his feet following a good Enda Stevens’ ball into the box.

But the hosts were level on 34 minutes as Baker picked up a Lalkovic corner and although his shot was saved by Blackman, BURGESS was on hand to bundle the ball over the line.

Chaplin and Baker then both saw strikes blocked as Pompey tried to turn up the pressure and forge ahead.

And that is exactly what they did late in the half after Gareth Evans met Baker’s cross and saw his header blocked by the arm of Sido Jombati.

Robinson pointed straight to the spot and ROBERTS stepped up to emphatically continue his prolific streak with a rocket into the roof of the net.

But, amazingly, there was still time for both sides to add a further goal each in a breathless end to the first half.

First, there was no Blues defender picking up Hayes, who was able to volley a fine curling finish past Forde.

It looked like the sides would go in level at the break, only for a moment of genius from CHAPLIN to lift the Fratton faithful.

The striker ran onto Roberts’ pass, lifted the ball over Anthony Stewart and then, with Blackman off his line, calmly sent a header looping over the keeper and into the net.


Half Time

(3 – 2)


Lalkovic did not return following the interval, with Kal Naismith instead taking up the attacking role wide on the left.

Wycombe had a chance to level soon after the restart, but Stewart was unable to guide Wood’s cross on target.

There was immediately an even better chance at the other end, with Roberts somehow failing to turn home Chaplin’s cross from just a few yards out.

But the Blues did increase their advantage on 53 minutes, as Stevens sent the ball to the far post, where BAKER was waiting to squeeze in a volley at Blackman’s near post.

That did not stop Pompey from trying to add to the lead, however, and Naismith bent a shot narrowly over

Blackman then made a mess of dealing with a couple of routine Chaplin efforts, only to escape any punishment.

Wycombe threw on a couple of strikers in Dayle Southwell and Adebayo Akinfenwa to try to find a way back into the game.

It was still Pompey looking more likely to add to the scoring, though, and Stevens was not quite able to beat Blackman from an acute angle following a flowing passing move.

Ultimately, there were to be no more goals, but that mattered not as the Blues saw the rest of the game out to move up to second in the table.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Hunt 88), Lalkovic (Naismith 46); Main (Chaplin 25)
Goals: Burgess 34, Roberts 43 (pen), Chaplin 45+3, Baker 53
Booked: Roberts, Baker, T.Davies
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Smith

Wycombe (4-1-4-1): Blackman; Jombati (Akinfenwa 80), Stewart, Pierre, Harriman; Rowe (McGinn 86); Thompson, Bloomfield, Gape, Wood; Hayes (c) (Southwell 80)
Goals: Hayes 10, 45
Booked: Pierre, Jombati, Thompson, Gape, Rowe, Blackman, Stewart
Subs not used: Richardson, De Havilland, Kashket, Freeman

Referee: Tim Robinson

Attendance: 16,262 (489 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Sep 032016
 

League One

3 – 0


Blues good run continues

Pompey eased to a third successive league win, courtesy of three first half goals against a hapless Crawley side at Fratton Park.

The damage was done inside the first 12 minutes, with Curtis Main breaking the deadlock before Gary Roberts continued his prolific scoring spell.

It was Main who added a third goal before the break, allowing the Blues to comfortably see out the second half and claim their three points.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that won at Exeter in the last league outing.

Drew Talbot was suffering from a hamstring injury and with Adam Buxton and Calvin Davies also sidelined, Gareth Evans had to deputise at right-back.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Pompey Ladies president Dave Coyle, who sadly passed away recently.

The hosts immediately launched into an energetic attacking display, looking to get forward at every opportunity and play with a high tempo.

Roberts tried to take advantage of some uncertain defending by chasing down a poor back-pass in the opening seconds, but Crawley keeper Yusuf Mersin just about beat him to the ball.

The Red Devils then had their best chance of the half, only for James Collins to hit his shot into the ground and watch it fly wide.

Most of the action was taking place at the other end of the pitch, however, and Michael Doyle was not quite able to dig the ball from out of his feet and test Mersin.

But the deadlock was broken on eight minutes, as MAIN opened his Fratton Park account.

Enda Stevens latched onto a pass down the left and then cut the ball back for the striker to lash into the roof of the net.

That certainly got the home fans off their seats and they were in dreamland moments later when the Blues doubled their advantage.

And it was no surprise who scored it either, with Danny Rose stealing possession from Alex Davey and ROBERTS picking up the loose ball to rifle home his fourth goal in three games.

Pompey refused to sit back and protect their lead, though, as they set about trying to find a third.

Mark Connolly was clever enough to spot Roberts’ cute pass through to Main and make a vital interception.

Roberts tried to pick out the striker again soon after, only this time Davey rose highest to clear the danger.

MAIN did add a third goal before the interval, however, being in the right place to convert from close range after Mersin could only parry away a deflected effort from Milan Lalkovic.

There was still time for Crawley to launch a rare attack, but, under pressure from Christian Burgess, Jason Banton could only fire wide.

Half Time: Pompey 3 Crawley 0


Half Time

(0 – 0)


It was a more sedate pace at the start of the second half, although Carl Baker wasted a good opening by dragging his shot wide.

Main then had a chance to seal his hat-trick, but spun and fired wide after Roberts’ neat flick had released Evans down the right.

Cook made his first switch just past the hour mark, with Main receiving warm applause as he made way for Conor Chaplin.

Crawley had a chance at the other end when Tom Davies was booked for a foul on Banton, with Burgess sticking out a leg to clear Jimmy Smith’s free-kick.

There was a definite sense of the game winding down as the heavens opened and heavy rain began to fall.

That might have contributed to a spot of sloppy defending from the hosts, who survived through some last-gasp defending before Smith’s shot was saved by David Forde.

Roberts was then given a deserved rest and replaced by Kal Naismith for his first home appearance of the season.

The final switch saw Michael Smith come on for the lively Lalkovic and he almost netted in stoppage-time following a quick break, but hit his shot agonisingly past the post.

It mattered little, however, as Pompey had, in truth, wrapped the game up by half-time to seal yet another league triumph.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Naismith 72), Lalkovic (Smith 82); Main (Chaplin 65)
Goals: Main 9, 37, Roberts 12
Booked: Main, T.Davies
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Hunt

Crawley (4-2-3-1): Mersin; Young, Connolly, Davey, Blackman (Arthur 52); Smith (c), Yorwerth (Payne 52); Boldewijn, Banton, Yussuf (Bawling 68); Collins
Booked: Blackman
Subs not used: Beeney, McNerney, Clifford, Tajbakhsh

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 16,347 (435 away fans)

Portsmouth FC

Aug 302016
 
EFL Trophy,,,,
,Yeovil Town,4 – 3,Portsmouth,

 

EFL Trophy fails to excite

A new-look Pompey side suffered defeat in their first Checkatrade Trophy group stage match at a sparsely-populated Huish Park.

In a game that was full of attacking verve, but short on defensive solidity, it was Yeovil who emerged with all three points.

That is despite an impressive hat-trick from Michael Smith, who looked full of confidence leading the line for the Blues.

But a brace from Thomas Eaves, as well as goals from Bevis Mugabi and Izale McLeod, ensured the treble counted for little.

Paul Cook changed the entire side that started the league victory at Exeter at the weekend.

Liam O’Brien was handed his debut between the sticks, while there was a first appearance for Matt Clarke since he made a permanent Blues switch.

But the keeper was almost picking the ball out of his net before the first minute had passed, with McLeod bursting through on goal and firing against the post.

The former Pompey striker had another opportunity soon after and this time fired into the side netting from an acute angle.

It was the Blues who broke the deadlock after eight minutes, however, when the impressive Kal Naismith whipped in a pin-point cross from the left and SMITH rose to convert with a bullet header.

But the lead was short-lived, as Yeovil won a free-kick 35 yards out and Matthew Dolan’s shot was diverted in by Mugabi.

McLeod then had the ball in the back of O’Brien’s net again, although the linesman had long since raised his flag for offside.

It certainly counted just seconds later, though, when Eaves neatly controlled a ball over the top and calmly slotted home.

Pompey were still looking a real threat going forward, but both Gareth Evans and Smith failed to trouble Glovers keeper Jonathan Maddison with headers.

It was a different story at the back, however, as a defence containing three midfielders and someone making their first appearance of the season unsurprisingly struggled.

And McLeod made the most of that by netting against his old side on 27 minutes, playing a neat one-two with Otis Khan before lifting the ball over O’Brien.

Still the goals kept coming and this time it was Pompey who found the target thanks to a fine goal.

Naismith picked out SMITH in the box and the striker brought the ball under control before turning and firing into the bottom corner.

But no sooner had the Blues got themselves back into the game, they conceded a fourth, with Eaves allowed far too much time to burst forward and find the net.

Half Time: Yeovil 4 Pompey 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The start to the second half was not quite as explosive as the first, although Eaves fired over in his search for a hat-trick.

Evans then collected Ben Tollitt’s low cross at the other end, but was not given the time or space to get a decent shot away.

Eaves may have been denied his treble, but SMITH made sure of the matchball when he rose at the back post to head home a deep cross from Adam May.

Pompey immediately made their first substitution, with Tollitt making way and Conor Chaplin looking to join in the goal spree.

One quick break saw him cynically tugged back by Liam Shephard, earning the Yeovil defender a yellow card.

He then surged forward to join Evans in a counter-attack, only to be forced wide and then curl his eventual shot over.

It was Smith who almost drew the Blues level with his fourth of the evening on 72 minutes, but he could not quite get the ball from under his feet and fired narrowly over.

That was his last involvement, as he was withdrawn for Noel Hunt, receiving warm applause from the small pocket of travelling fans.

There was then a late moment of controversy when Amine Linganzi diverted a corner towards the goal.

Maddison was able to smother the ball, but Pompey were adamant it had crossed the line, only for their appeals to fall on deaf ears.

The visitors kept up their attacking intent as they went in search of a leveller, but Yeovil held on for the victory.

Yeovil (4-1-4-1): Maddison; Shephard, Mugabi, Smith (c), Butcher; Lawless; Khan (Copp 89), Whitfield (Lea 75), Dolan, Eaves; McLeod
Goals: Mugabi 13, Eaves 22, 39, McLeod 27
Booked: Shephard, Khan
Subs not used: Krysiak, Sowunmi, Bassett

Pompey (4-2-3-1): O’Brien; May, Barton, Clarke (T.Davies 61), Naismith; Close, Linganzi; Evans, Bennett (c), Tollitt (Chaplin 55); Smith (Hunt 73)
Goals: Smith 10, 37, 54
Booked: Barton, Close
Sub not used: Hall

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 1,534 (270 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 272016
 
League 2,,,,
,Exeter City,0 – 1,Portsmouth,

 

Roberts the penalty hero

Gary Roberts fired home a late penalty as Pompey won at Exeter to secure a second successive victory.

They had seen plenty of the ball without carving out too many clear-cut openings, but a third goal in two games from Roberts was enough to settle the contest.

Exeter poured forward in search of a leveller and the Blues were forced to hold on to claim a maximum haul in Devon.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that beat Colchester the previous week.

Milan Lalkovic replaced Kyle Bennett wide on the left, while Adam Barton dropped to the bench to make way for Tom Davies in the centre of defence.

The game started at a frantic pace, with both sides looking to get forward whenever possible.

There was a scary moment for the visitors when David Forde failed to hold Lloyd James’ free-kick, but referee Gavin Ward spotted a push on the keeper.

Pompey soon settled, though, and began to assert themselves on the Grecians, with a slip from 15-year-old defender Ethan Ampadu almost letting in Curtis Main.

Roberts then found space to burst forward, but he dragged his shot wide of the post to let Exeter off the hook.

Enda Stevens was sending in some decent crosses from the left and one was brilliantly held by keeper Bobby Olejnik, with Roberts waiting to pounce at the far post.

The Blues were beginning to dominate proceedings without really carving out anything clear-cut and when space opened up for Main, the striker drilled straight into Olejnik’s arms.

It was a similar story when Carl Baker cut inside from the right and then fired a shot into the side netting.

But one fine move almost resulted in an opener on 18 minutes, starting with Stevens nutmegging Jake Taylor down the left.

Lalkovic picked the ball up out wide and his low cross was met by Main, only for a sweeping effort to be blocked by Troy Brown.

There was another golden opportunity midway through the first half when Roberts delivered a superb free-kick, only for Christian Burgess to glance it wide.

Danny Rose was given the chance to break forward at regular intervals and his fierce long-range strike appeared to be heading for the net until Brown bravely got his face in the way.

Exeter had offered little at the other end of the pitch, but did carve open one good chance before the break.

Connor Riley-Lowe’s cross was helped on by Joel Grant, with Forde doing well to deny Liam McAlinden from close range.

It was Pompey who had the final say, however, as Rose shot narrowly over before Roberts – at full stretch – was unable to convert Stevens’ ball with a diving header.

Half Time: Exeter 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The second half was slow to get going, but it was the Blues who carved out the first decent opening on 56 minutes.

A quickly-taken free-kick found its way to Lalkovic on the left and his pin-point delivery was headed narrowly wide by Main.

Michael Doyle then fed the ball to Main on the edge of the box, only for an excellent Ampadu block to deny the striker.

Pompey made their first switch just past the hour mark and it was a popular one with the travelling support as Conor Chaplin replaced Baker.

The teenager made an immediate impact, as he latched onto Roberts’ pass, beat Ampadu and saw a curling shot deflected narrowly past the post.

It was Exeter who came close to celebrating a goal on 68 minutes, however, following a quick break up the pitch.

Ollie Watkins did well to pick out Grant inside the box and Burgess was forced to divert the ball behind for a corner.

The Blues then made their final two changes, with Main and Lalkovic making way for Noel Hunt and Kal Naismith.

The former almost improvised a goal just moments after entering the fray, using his body to turn Chaplin’s shot on target, but seeing the effort blocked.

And Naismith was then just about able to reach Roberts’ corner and send the ball back into the mix, but it was just out of reach for Chaplin to get a shot away.

But the pressure finally produced a goal on 85 minutes and it was Naismith who created it.

The substitute latched onto a long Burgess pass forward and charged into the box, only to be brought down by Pierce Sweeney.

Ward immediately pointed to the spot and ROBERTS stepped up to slam the ball straight down the middle, with James and Sweeney both booked for complaining about the decision.

But Sweeney almost made amends at the other end of the pitch, with a deflection taking the power out of his shot and allowing Forde to save.

The keeper then made another key stop to deny Watkins in stoppage-time, while Doyle kept out an effort from the same player with a brilliant block as Pompey held on to claim all three points.

Exeter (3-4-3): Olejnik; Sweeney, Brown, Ampadu (Oakley 76); Taylor, James (c), Tillson (Grant 21), Riley-Lowe; Watkins, McAlinden (Simpson 57), Harley
Booked: Harley, James, Sweeney, Riley-Lowe
Subs not used: Pym, Egan, Byrne, Jay

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Talbot, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker (Chaplin 64), Roberts, Lalkovic (Naismith 74); Main (Hunt 74)
Goals: Roberts 85 (pen)
Subs not used: O’Brien, Barton, Linganzi, Evans

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 4,512 (1,215 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 202016
 
League 2,,,,
,Portsmouth,2 – 0,Colchester United,

 

Roberts brace secures victory

Pompey collected their first victory of the season thanks to a late Gary Roberts brace against Colchester.

The visitors did not offer much in attack, but looked like they might be leaving the south coast with a point after frustrating the Blues.

Roberts won and scored a penalty to relieve the tension, however, and then grabbed a second moments later to secure all three points.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that were beaten at Morecambe earlier in the week.

That came up front, where Michael Smith missed out completely and was replaced by Curtis Main.

The blustery conditions made things difficult for both sides early on, with several passes going astray.

But it was the Blues who settled the quickest and carved out the majority of the chances before the break.

The first of those arrived after six minutes when Roberts swung in a cross that Main flicked narrowly past the post.

Kyle Bennett then played a neat one-two with Roberts down the left, only to see his low delivery cleared by Doug Loft.

Pompey were dominating possession without really troubling United keeper Sam Walker and Carl Baker headed wide after being found in the box.

The hosts were winning plenty of corners, however, and one from Bennett caused a scramble in the box before eventually being hacked clear.

Despite being penned back in their own half, Colchester looked dangerous on the break, although David Forde was not exactly being overworked.

It was the Blues still doing most of the attacking, however, and they started to put more pressure on the opposition back-line as the break drew closer.

Their best chance came on 40 minutes and it was Roberts who once again started the move.

He cut the ball back for Main, but Walker made a fine save to keep out the striker’s shot and then used his feet to stop Danny Rose from converting the loose ball.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Colchester 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey started the second half on the front foot and, with Main waiting to pounce, Walker had to quickly recover after fumbling Baker’s shot.

The keeper looked more assured moments later, however, when he gathered a Roberts cross-shot at his near post.

But the chances began to dry up and Cook attempted to inject some fresh impetus into proceedings with a double switch.

The crowd had been calling for Conor Chaplin and he was brought on alongside Noel Hunt, with Bennett and Main making way.

Walker immediately came for – and missed – a Roberts corner, but got away with it as there was no-one at the far post to capitalise.

Forde might have been a virtual spectator, but he had not let his concentration slip and made a key save on 70 minutes to deny Craig Slater.

Chaplin did well soon after, beating his man and chipping the ball up to the far post, where it was just out of reach for a stretching Baker.

But the Blues did finally break the deadlock on 80 minutes, thanks to a penalty that was won and converted by ROBERTS.

He was clearly tripped inside the box by Drey Wright before stepping up and sliding the ball straight down the middle.

And the Fratton faithful were soon celebrating a second goal when ROBERTS raced onto a fine pass from Chaplin.

He just about beat the onrushing Walker to the ball, which looped up and landed in the net to double the Blues’ advantage.

Colchester tried to find a route back into the game, but Forde made a decent double save to deny Chris Porter and Doug Loft late on and preserve the clean sheet.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Talbot, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Rose (Linganzi 86), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Hunt 62); Main (Chaplin 62)
Goals: Roberts 80 (pen), 84
Booked: Doyle
Subs not used: O’Brien, T.Davies, Evans, Lalkovic

Colchester (4-2-3-1): Walker; Brindley, Eastman, Prosser (c), Kinsella; Lapslie, Loft; Guthrie (Wright 59), Slater (Bonne 82), Dickenson; Johnstone (Porter 71)
Booked: Guthrie, Kinsella
Subs not used: Bransgrove, Wynter, Vincent-Young, Szmodics

Referee: Charles Breakspear

Attendance: 15,967 (442 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 162016
 
League 2,,,,
,Morecambe,2 – 0,Portsmouth,

 

Pompey still await first win

Pompey made the long trip home from Morecambe disappointed after suffering a first league defeat of the season.

They were poor in the first half and the hosts took advantage with goals from Ryan Edwards and Tom Barkhuizen.

There was a marked improvement after the interval, but a string of fine saves from Barry Roche kept the Blues at bay.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that drew with Crewe at the weekend.

Enda Stevens recovered from the groin problem that kept him sidelined at Alexandra Stadium to replace Kal Naismith at left-back.

Adam Barton came in for the injured Jack Whatmough in the centre of defence, while Milan Lalkovic dropped to the bench to make way for Kyle Bennett.

Pompey made an encouraging start, with Stevens and Drew Talbot sending in a couple of dangerous deliveries that the hosts were able to clear.

But Morecambe soon settled and a free-kick from skipper Michael Rose had to be cleared by his namesake Danny.

Cole Stockton then cut along the edge of the Blues box and fired in a shot that hit Christian Burgess and looped over the bar.

Pompey were being allowed to see plenty of the ball and were not having any trouble getting into the opposition half, but were struggling to get through the defence and test Roche.

And the Shrimps were looking an increasing threat on the counter-attack before they broke the deadlock after just 10 minutes.

The visitors failed to deal with a ball in from the left and it fell kindly for Edwards to hit through a host of bodies and into the net.

It was becoming a familiar story at the other end of the pitch, with plenty of teasing crosses, but no end product.

Morecambe, meanwhile, were looking far more clinical and broke quickly upfield after Carl Baker had a penalty appeal turned down to double their advantage.

It was a fine finish from Barkhuizen that flew past the grasp of David Forde and into the top corner, but he was allowed far too much space to burst forward.

Roche was finally called into action on 25 minutes, just about beating Baker to the ball as the midfielder tried to latch onto Bennett’s incisive pass.

Michael Smith then rose highest in the box to meet another cross from Stevens, but could only glance his header wide.

They failed to build on that spell of pressure, however, and instead almost fell further behind.

Barkhuizen ran into the box from the right and lifted the ball over Forde, only to see the ball hit the side netting.

Half Time: Morecambe 2 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Baker was trying to be positive at the start of the second half and hit a couple of efforts that did not really trouble Roche.

He certainly made a clean connection on 52 minutes, though, hitting a fierce effort that Roche did well to turn behind.

Baker was single-handedly trying to bring the Blues back into the contest and his next attempt flashed narrowly past the post.

Pompey were looking a lot brighter since the restart and Barton twice found himself in the opposition area to have shots that were deflected wide.

Cook tried to keep the momentum flowing by making a double switch on 64 minutes, with Smith and Bennett making way for Curtis Main and Lalkovic.

But it was Roberts who soon had a chance to reduce the deficit with a firm low drive that Roche managed to get a hand to and palm clear.

And the Shrimps stopper made an even better save soon after, somehow keeping out a Main header from point-blank range.

Then, after Lalkovic was fouled 30 yards out, Baker stepped up to curl a free-kick over the wall, but also over the bar.

Pompey were totally dominant, with Morecambe unsurprisingly content to sit back and soak up pressure.

But they were indebted to Roche, who added to his tally of super stops by denying first Main and then Burgess.

The keeper was not done yet, flinging himself to his right on 82 minutes to keep out a free-kick from Roberts that was heading for the top corner.

Noel Hunt replaced Rose for the closing stages as Cook made one last attacking throw of the dice.

But that failed to spark an improbable late comeback as Pompey’s wait for a first win of the campaign continued.

Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Wakefield, Edwards, Whitmore, Conlan; Fleming, Rose (c); Barkhuizen (Kenyon 87), Dunn (Molyneux 60), Ellison; Stockton (Mullin 75)
Goals: Edwards 10, Barkhuizen 21
Booked: Stockton, Fleming, Molyneux
Subs not used: Nizic, McGowan, Turner

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Talbot, Barton, Burgess, Stevens; Rose (Hunt 85), Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Bennett (Lalkovic 64); Smith (Main 64)
Booked: Doyle, Stevens
Subs not used: O’Brien, Buxton, T.Davies, Linganzi

Referee: Nigel Miller

Attendance: 1,838 (546 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Aug 132016
 
League 2,,,,
,Crewe Alexandra,0 – 0,Portsmouth,

 

Stalemate at Crewe

Pompey collected their second successive league draw with a goalless stalemate at Crewe.

Both sides had chances to turn one point into three on a nippy August afternoon at Alexandra Stadium.

Chris Dagnall missed the best of the chances for the hosts, while Curtis Main had several openings after coming off the bench.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that drew with Carlisle in the last league outing.

That came at left-back where Kal Naismith deputised for Enda Stevens, who missed out with a groin problem.

The game was only a few seconds old when Carl Baker attempted a long-range effort that flew narrowly over.

Naismith then whipped in a dangerous cross that was just out of reach for Michael Smith running in at the far post.

The stand-in defender was looking an attacking threat and when his run was illegally halted, Baker curled in a free-kick that was comfortably dealt with by Alex keeper Ben Garratt.

Pompey had started brightly and a Naismith delivery had to be turned over his own bar by Jon Guthrie, while Milan Lalkovic saw a shot blocked after exchanging intelligent passes with Baker.

It was the visitors dominating possession, but some unsure moments at the back allowed Crewe chances to score before the break.

Dagnall was first to go close, only to see his header deflected wide after being picked out from a corner.

Then, after Lalkovic wasted a decent opportunity by firing a free-kick straight into the wall, Drew Talbot was caught out of position, but recovered well to deny Charlie Kirk.

Dagnall proved wasteful again on 26 minutes, opting to head the ball back to no-one rather than test David Forde when he was found unmarked in the box.

There were still openings at the other end and a cross-shot from Lalkovic looped over Garratt and narrowly cleared the crossbar.

But Crewe were gifted another chance late in the half when Christian Burgess collected a throw and hit the ball straight at Ryan Lowe.

The striker spotted Forde off his line and had an audacious effort from long-range, but the ball flashed wide.

Half Time: Crewe 0 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The second half began in a very open fashion, with both sides keen to get forward whenever they could.

Neither goalkeeper was being overworked, although Burgess did well to mop up the danger after Dagnall had been picked out by a fine Billy Bingham pass.

And Cook clearly wanted to see more from his attacking players as he made a double switch on 54 minutes, with Smith and Lalkovic making way for Main and Kyle Bennett.

The duo immediately looked lively, with the former doing good work to win a corner and the latter looking to test Crewe right-back Oliver Turton.

But it was Michael Doyle who came close to breaking the deadlock just past the hour mark. The skipper’s shot was deflected wide after Bingham had lost the ball to Gary Roberts.

Bennett then did well to cut inside from the left and put the ball into the box, but it would not sit up kindly for Roberts and the hosts were able to clear.

Alex substitute Alex Kiwomya was looking a real threat and, after breaking clear down the right, his cut-back somehow evaded everyone on its journey across the box.

Cook was then forced to make his third and final change when Jack Whatmough went down injured on 74 minutes.

It looked worrying when he lay on the ground clutching his leg, but the defender was able to hobble off and be replaced by Adam Barton.

The Blues soon had a chance to take the lead, but Main could not guide his header on target after a header had been flicked into his path.

It was Main who was involved again moments later when he could not quite make a clean connection with Talbot’s low cross.

And the striker should have done better on 81 minutes, but he failed to turn home Naismith’s low delivery at the near post.

Main did have the ball in the back of net soon after, but referee Dean Whitestone had already blown for a foul before his crisp finish.

Crewe were after a late winner themselves, though, and Talbot threw himself into the path of a Bingham drive.

The same player then drew a smart stop from Forde in the closing stages, while Main’s header failed to beat Garratt at the other end.

It was a frantic end to proceedings, but neither side was able to find a winner and the spoils were shared.

Crewe (4-4-2): Garratt; Turton, Davies, Guthrie, Bakayogo; Cooper (Kiwomya 59), Jones, Bingham, Kirk (Ainley 66); Lowe (c), Dagnall
Booked: Dagnall
Subs not used: Richards, Ray, Nugent, Saunders, Udoh

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Talbot, Whatmough (Barton 74), Burgess, Naismith; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Lalkovic (Bennett 54); Smith (Main 54)
Booked: Naismith
Subs not used: O’Brien, Buxton, Chaplin, Hunt

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 4,742 (1,257 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC