Apr 092016
 
League 2
Dagenham & Redbridge 1 – 4 Portsmouth

 

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.

Half Time: Dagenham & Redbridge 1 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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)

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
Mar 252016
 
League 2
Portsmouth 4 – 0 Notts County

Pompey roared back into form and ensured it was a very Good Friday with a convincing victory over Notts County at Fratton Park.

Kyle Bennett struck either side of the interval, with a couple of goals that were extremely easy on the eye.

Christian Burgess then opened his account for the club before Marc McNulty came off the bench to add an extra gloss to the scoreline.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that drew at Mansfield the previous week.

Paul Jones was recalled from his Crawley loan to replace Ryan Fulton – who had been called up to the Scotland under-21 side – between the sticks.

There were also starts for Gary Roberts, Adam McGurk and Matt Clarke, with McNulty, Kal Naismith and Adam Webster dropping to the bench.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s silence in memory of former Pompey left-back Jack Mansell – who passed away last week – and the victims of the attacks in Brussels.

When the game got underway, the hosts made a bright start to match the fine conditions on the south coast.

And Michael Bull earned the ire of the Fratton faithful for not awarding their side a penalty after just a three minutes.

It looked a clear foul from Haydn Hollis on Ben Davies as the right-back charged into the box, but the referee was not convinced.

However, the first half was ultimately a scrappy affair, with plenty of fouls interrupting the flow of the game.

Stanley Aborah collected the first booking for a late challenge on Michael Smith, not that it stopped the midfielder from getting involved in a few more dubious challenges.

There were not too many shots to trouble either of the goalkeepers, with Curtis Thompson seeing his dangerous run eventually halted before McGurk sent a header over the bar.

It was Roberts who had the first decent chance from the edge of the box on 34 minutes, but his effort flew comfortably into the arms of Scott Loach.

Pompey did break the deadlock just before the break, however, thanks to an impressive solo goal from BENNETT.

The winger collected Enda Stevens’ pass down the left and beat Elliott Hewitt with ease before cutting inside and firing past Loach.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Notts County 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The hosts probably should have doubled their advantage just after the restart, but McGurk somehow failed to connect with Davies’ free-kick from wide on the right.

But their second goal did arrive on 49 minutes – and it was a joy to behold.

Roberts displayed a moment of class to send BENNETT clear through and he calmly slotted the ball past Loach and into the net.

And Roberts then tried to add an audacious third with a cute lob from wide on the right that drifted narrowly over.

But the visitors were almost gifted a way back into the game on the hour mark when Jones dropped Curtis Thompson’s cross, only to pounce on the ball before Jon Stead could poke it home.

Pompey were soon back on the attack, though, and it took a brave block from former England international Alan Smith to deny his namesake Michael.

Cook made his first switch on 67 minutes, with the tiring McGurk making way for Naismith out wide.

With a comfortable lead, it was a more patient display from the hosts, but they still looked the more dangerous side.

And the home fans did have a third goal to cheer on 81 minutes when BURGESS converted Enda Stevens’ cross from close range to open his Blues account.

That was the cue to bring on Conor Chaplin and McNulty for the impressive duo of Smith and Roberts.

And it was McNULTY who wrapped up a memorable victory in stoppage-time when he headed Davies’ free-kick into the top corner.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Jones; Davies, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); McGurk (Naismith 67), Roberts (McNulty 84), Bennett; Smith (Chaplin 84)
Goals: Bennett 44, 49, Burgess 81, McNulty 90+1
Booked: Hollands
Subs not used: Bass, Webster, Close, Evans

Notts County (3-5-2): Loach; Boyce (Atkinson 58), Smith (Campbell 75), Hollis; Hewitt, Thompson, Aborah (Burke 58), Noble, Milsom; McLeod, Stead (c)
Booked: Aborah, Milsom, Thompson, Smith, McLeod
Subs not used: Pilkington, Sharpe, Edwards, Murray

Referee: Michael Bull

Attendance: 16,670 (485 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 232016
 
IN
Conor Wilkinson

(21)
Bolton Wanderers


Pompey have signed Conor Wilkinson on loan from Bolton until the end of the season

The 21-year-old striker – who will wear the number 25 shirt during his time at Fratton Park – would be eligible to feature in any play-off matches.

But he will not be able to appear in the Blues’ Easter clashes with Notts County and AFC Wimbledon as he is currently away on international duty with the Republic of Ireland under-21 side.

Wilkinson has recently finished a stint on loan with fellow League Two side Newport and played at Fratton Park when the Welsh side won 3-0 earlier this month.

He made 12 appearances for County and has previously spent time with Torquay, Oldham and Barnsley.

Portsmouth FC
Mar 192016
 
League 2
Mansfield Town 1 – 1 Portsmouth

Tafazolli own-goal secures Blues a point

Marc McNulty missed a penalty as Pompey fought from behind to claim a point at Mansfield.

It looked bleak for the Blues when, within the space of a few minutes, McNulty saw his spot-kick saved and Matt Green slotted the hosts ahead.

But Ryan Tafazolli’s own-goal levelled the contest before the interval and neither side was able to take any of their second half chances.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side beaten at home by Newport the previous week.

One of them was enforced, with Michael Smith replacing the suspended Gary Roberts, while Gareth Evans dropped to the bench to make way for Kal Naismith.

There was not an abundance of chances in the early stages, although the hosts survived a defensive mix-up early on, while Mitchell Rose was unable to beat Ryan Fulton with an angled drive.

Pompey’s keeper then had to race from his area to clear after a blocked Christian Burgess shot turned into a quick Stags attack.

Set-pieces were causing the most problems for both sides, with Mansfield delivering some dangerous free-kicks and the Blues threatening from corners.

But it was penalty that gave the visitors a golden opportunity to break the deadlock on 20 minutes.

McNulty was brought down in the box by former Pompey loanee Daniel Alfei, but his spot-kick was brilliantly saved by Scott Shearer low to the keeper’s left.

And the Stags soon made him pay for his profligacy by taking the lead themselves, as Emmanuel Dieseruvwe teed-up Green for a cool finish.

Referee Carl Boyeson upset the mood of the home fans, however, by issuing a flurry of yellow cards, not that Dieseruvwe, Rose or Green could have much to complain about.

Pompey, meanwhile, were trying to find a leveller, but despite some neat passing forward, they were doing little to trouble Shearer.

Instead, the keeper was finally beaten by one of his team-mates just before the break, with TAFAZOLLI inadvertently turning a Ben Davies corner into his own net.

Half Time: Mansfield 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The second half was slow to get going, although it was the Blues were looking the more likely to score again.

But they were limited to a couple of scuffed efforts from Enda Stevens and Smith that did little to trouble Shearer.

Kyle Bennett went closer on 65 minutes when he met Davies’ corner with a volley that was heading for the net before it was deflected wide.

The visitors had a chance of their own when Stevens was booked for a foul on Dieseruvwe, but the resulting free-kick was confidently plucked from the air by Fulton.

Cook soon made his first substitution, with Ben Tollitt replacing Bennett wide on the left to add some youthful exuberance to Pompey’s attack.

And the Blues boss made another switch to his front line moments later, with McNulty making way for Adam McGurk.

The hosts had been growing in confidence as the half progressed and almost retook the lead on 62 minutes.

Fulton had to get down to his right to push clear Rose’s skidding, long-range effort and then denied Green from the resulting corner.

His counterpart Shearer had looked assured in the Stags goal, but almost made a hash of Michael Doyle’s opportunistic strike from distance on 77 minutes.

There was then a break in play when one of the linesmen appeared to injure his arm and had to be replaced – not that he received much sympathy from the stands.

Conor Chaplin was introduced in place of Naismith for the final five minutes, as Pompey went in search of a winner.

But, despite the fourth official announcing six minutes of stoppage-time, neither side was able to snatch victory.

Mansfield (4-4-2): Shearer; Alfei, Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning; Rose (Daniel 86), Collins (c), Clements, Kavanagh (Blair 64); Green (Thomas 83), Dieseruvwe
Goals: Green 26
Booked: Dieseruvwe, Rose, Green
Subs not used: Jensen, Baxendale, Chapman, Beardsley

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Naismith (Chaplin 85), McNulty (McGurk 70), Bennett (Tollitt 67); Smith
Goals: Tafazolli 43 (og)
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Evans

Referee: Carl Boyeson

Attendance: 3,980 (1,192 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 122016
 
League 2
Portsmouth 0 – 3 Newport County

Pompey’s good run of form was abruptly halted as they lost at home to Newport.

Darren Jones headed the visitors in front during a first half that was extremely low on quality.

The Blues were then controversially reduced to 10 men when Gary Roberts was shown a second booking for alleged simulation.

And County ensured that they would take all three points back to south Wales, as Scott Boden and Dean Morgan increased their lead.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that won convincingly at Accrington earlier in the week.

The switch came up front, where on-loan Michael Smith made way for top scorer Marc McNulty.

It was a warm and sunny afternoon on the south coast, but there certainly was not a spring in the step of the players.

There was not much to lift the crowd in an incredibly low-tempo opening to the game, with shots thin on the ground.

McNulty dragged the ball wide from the edge of the box, while, at the other end, Boden hit a tame effort straight into Ryan Fulton’s arms.

With little footballing action to excite those in the stands, referee Ben Toner provided the only incidents of note by brandishing a flurry of yellow cards.

Mark Byrne probably deserved his for a cynical challenge on Gareth Evans, although the bookings for Enda Stevens and Danny Hollands looked harsh.

But that was the least of Pompey’s worries, as – despite County not offering much of a threat – they fell behind on 34 minutes.

Medy Elito’s free-kick was flicked on by Boden and Jones out-muscled Fulton to head home, with Toner ignoring the cries of foul from the Blues keeper.

The hosts tried to inject some more urgency into their play, but were finding it difficult to breach a well-organised Exiles defence.

Their best chance arrived in stoppage-time when Joe Day dropped Ben Davies’ cross, but McNulty was too close to the keeper to fire the loose ball past him.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Newport 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Cook, unsurprisingly, made an attacking switch at the break, with Evans the man to make way for Smith.

And there certainly seemed to be an increase in tempo as Pompey set about trying to find an equaliser.

Day was twice called into action in the opening stages, although was not overly troubled by a shot from Roberts and header from Smith.

But the Blues came agonisingly close to scoring on 57 minutes when Smith was inches away from meeting a fine low cross from Kyle Bennett.

Their hopes of getting anything from the game were dealt a severe blow moments later, however, when they were reduced to 10 men.

Roberts went down on the edge of the box and claimed a free-kick, but Toner decided he had dived.

Having already booked the midfielder for a trip on Elito, he displayed a second yellow card followed by a red – much to the ire of most of those inside Fratton Park.

Cook soon made his second substitution of the afternoon, withdrawing Bennett and bringing on Kal Naismith.

But Newport made their numerical advantage count on 69 minutes when they doubled their lead after Pompey had lost possession.

The ball was worked to Elito out on the left and the winger’s cross was headed home by Boden from close range.

Conor Chaplin was immediately brought on for McNulty and soon had a chance, but could only hook the ball over from 12 yards.

He then teed-up Smith with a neat pass, with Day getting down low to his right to save an angled drive.

Instead, it was Newport who scored to complete a miserable afternoon for the Blues, with substitute Morgan converting a low cross from Byrne.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Smith 46), Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 61); McNulty (Chaplin 70)
Sent off: Roberts (two yellow cards)
Booked: Stevens, Hollands, Burgess
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, McGurk

Newport (4-1-3-2): Day; Holmes, Donacien, Jones, Hughes; Byrne (c); Rodman, O’Sullivan, Elito (Gosling 74); Boden (Morgan 77), Ayina (Wilkinson 61)
Goals: Jones 34, Boden 69, Morgan 87
Booked: Byrne, O’Sullivan
Subs not used: Green, Partridge, Barrow, Klukowski

Referee: Ben Toner

Attendance: 16,245 (386 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 082016
 
League 2
Accrington Stanley 1 – 3 Portsmouth

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.

Half Time: Accrington 0 Pompey 3

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

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)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 052016
 

Stevenage 0 v 2 Portsmouth

Marc McNulty and Kal Naismith were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways at Stevenage.

Gary Roberts teed-up McNulty to open the scoring midway through the first half and send the large travelling support wild with delight.

And Naismith then came off the bench to double their advantage and secure a maximum haul of points at the Lamex Stadium.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that drew at Exeter earlier in the week.

A fit-again Roberts was thrown straight into the starting line-up following a hamstring injury, while Gareth Evans also returned.

Conor Chaplin and Naismith both dropped to the bench, where they were joined by Michael Smith, who had recovered from a calf problem.

Pompey started the game with plenty of attacking impetus and Evans was inches away from meeting an excellent Ben Davies delivery after just three minutes.

Roberts was then unable to force the ball home after Stevenage stopper Jamie Jones had flapped at another cross from the marauding right-back.

And Roberts had another chance soon after, but his long-range effort was comfortably kept out by Jones.

The Blues were dominating the opening exchanges, but Boro came close to forging ahead on 19 minutes after winning a series of corners.

The last of them fell to Michael Tonge inside the box, with the midfielder hooking the ball over his head, but also over the crossbar.

Pompey were soon back down the other end of the pitch and period of extended pressure ended with Evans having an effort blocked.

But they did break the deadlock on 22 minutes after Roberts did well to steal possession in the middle of the pitch.

He slid a precise pass through to McNULTY, who latched onto the ball and confidently slotted home to take his individual tally into double figures.

The game lost some of its sparkle after that, becoming a scrappy affair that was punctuated by plenty of free-kicks.

Tom Conlon glanced a header narrowly wide for the hosts, while Lee Cox was unable to find the target from the edge of the box.

But the Blues ended the half on a high and Evans sent a low drive rolling inches past the post before Roberts headed wide from an Enda Stevens cross.

Half Time: Stevenage 0 Pompey 1

Pompey survived a scare early in the second half after Christian Burgess was penalised for a foul on Conlon just outside the box.

The Stevenage midfielder picked himself up to take the free-kick and saw his curling effort tipped over by Fulton.

That aside, however, it had been fairly uneventful since the restart, with little happening to excite a flat crowd.

Roberts brought the game back to life on 58 minutes, however, when he dispossessed Ronnie Henry and surged forward.

But the angles were against the midfielder and his first effort was pushed clear by Jones, while the second flew into the side netting.

Michael Doyle was then left in space 25 yards out and Jones had to push his speculative shot over the bar.

Pompey soon received a bit of good fortune at the other end of the pitch when Byron Harrison inadvertently got in the way of Tom Pett’s goal-bound effort.

Both sides were now looking capable of adding to the scoring and Luke Wilkinson had to hack clear a low Evans shot, with McNulty waiting to pounce at the far post.

Cook made a double switch on 71 minutes as McNulty and Roberts made way for Smith and Naismith.

Stevenage were trying to push men forward in search of an equaliser, but wasted a good opportunity when Harrison and Connor Ogilvie got in each other’s way.

And Pompey made them pay for their profligacy by doubling their advantage on 82 minutes.

Kyle Bennett did well to feed a pass through to NAISMITH, who raced onto it and slammed home to open his account for the club.

There were a few nervous groans from the away end when the fourth official signalled six minutes of stoppage-time.

But – as the heavens opened in Hertfordshire – the Blues comfortably saw out the closing stages to claim all three points.

Stevenage (4-2-3-1): Jones; Henry (c), Wilkinson, Franks, Ogilvie; Cox (Kennedy 60), Conlon; Pett (Parrett 80), Tonge, Hedges (Marriott 72); Harrison
Booked: Wilkinson
Subs not used: Day, Wells, Johnson, Gorman

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Naismith 71), Bennett (Freeman 85); McNulty (Smith 71)
Goals: McNulty 22, Naismith 82
Booked: McNulty
Subs not used: Bass, Clarke, Barton, Chaplin

Referee: Kevin Johnson

Attendance: 4,092 (1,390 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Mar 012016
 
League 2
Exeter City 1 – 1 Portsmouth

 

Late shock denies Blues

Pompey suffered more late heartache as Ollie Watkins snatched a 90th-minute leveller for Exeter at St James Park.

Conor Chaplin’s neat first half finish looked to have ensured that the visitors would be taking all three points home from Devon.

Jayden Stockley had been the biggest threat for the Grecians, but missed a hat-trick of chances to punish his former side.

Instead it was Watkins who found the target just before the end to break the hearts of the travelling support.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that beat Cambridge at Fratton Park at the weekend.

His Exeter counterpart Paul Tisdale – presented with an award before kick-off in recognition of passing 500 games in charge of the club – restored former Blues loanees Lee Holmes and Stockley to the starting line-up.

The game was just 22 seconds old when Chaplin missed a great opportunity to break the deadlock by mis-controlling Kal Naismith’s cross.

Christian Burgess was also off target with a header in the opening stages, while the ferocity of Holmes’ pass back to Bobby Olejnik almost caught the goalkeeper out.

There were not an abundance of clear-cut openings, but it was still Pompey looking the more likely to score as the first half progressed.

Doyle drew a smart stop from Olejnik with a 30-yard volley on 25 minutes after a corner had only been cleared as far as the visiting skipper.

But Stockley then should have punished his former side, only to guide Christian Ribeiro’s cross straight into the arms of Ryan Fulton.

And he was made to pay for his profligacy moments later, as Pompey went up the other end of the pitch to take the lead.

It was a fine effort from CHAPLIN, who neatly chested the ball down on the edge of the box before steering it into the bottom corner.

He might have had a second soon after, bursting inside to collect Marc McNulty’s cut-back, but failing to make a clean connection.

Exeter did enjoy a spell of pressure late in the half and Stockley again wasted a good opportunity by glancing another Ribeiro cross wide.

Watkins then cut inside and unleashed a curling drive that Fulton did well to parry clear before the ball was hacked to safety.

Half Time: Exeter 0 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

The second half was slow to spark into life, although a corner for the hosts did lead to a melee in the Blues box.

Pompey were not offering too much at the other end either and Naismith’s long-range effort flew over after the winger had wriggled past a couple of challenges.

They almost doubled their lead in comical fashion on the hour mark, however, thanks to some wonderful improvisation by Chaplin.

The teenager was left on the floor after colliding with Olejnik in a race for the ball, but still managed to scramble a shot inches past the post.

That seemed to shake the Grecians into action and a Stockley header had to be cleared behind by Burgess.

The resulting corner then made its way to the striker’s feet inside the box, but his flicked effort just about went wide.

And that proved to be Stockley’s last chance to make an impact as he was withdrawn with Troy Brown in a double switch for Exeter on 65 minutes.

Pompey were next to go close after Naismith was barged over by Watkins right on the edge of the area.

Chaplin stepped up to take the free-kick, but although his effort curled over the wall, it also cleared the crossbar.

Cook looked to shore things up on 79 minutes, with goalscorer Chaplin making way for Gareth Evans.

And more valuable seconds were used up a few moments later as Adam Barton was introduced for Kyle Bennett.

There was a scary moment when the ball found its way to Alex Nicholls in the box late on, only for the midfielder to blaze his shot high over the bar.

But it looked like the Blues had done enough to hold off the Grecians until Watkins shimmied into space and angled home into the net.

Exeter might even have snatched a winner deep into stoppage-time, but Nicholls’ free-kick was turned around the post by Fulton.

Exeter (4-3-2-1): Olejnik; Ribeiro (Morrison 79), Brown (Grant 65), Moore-Taylor (c), Woodman; Nicholls, Oakley, Watkins; Wheeler, Holmes; Stockley (Noble 65)
Goals: Watkins 90
Subs not used: Pym, Tillson, McAllister, Taylor

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Naismith, Chaplin (Evans 79), Bennett (Barton 82); McNulty
Goals: Chaplin 31
Booked: Burgess
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Clarke, Haunstrup, Tollitt

Referee: Brendan Malone

Attendance: 3,855 (695 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 272016
 

Portsmouth 2 v 1 Cambridge United

Marc McNulty and Adam Webster were on target as Pompey returned to winning ways against Cambridge.

It was not the most free-flowing of performances, but it was still the hosts who created most of the game’s best chances.

And – after the past two games yielded a solitary point – there was a sense of relief when McNulty opened the scoring just before the break.

United failed to cause Ryan Fulton many problems and it was left for Webster to secure all three points midway through the second half.

That was despite a few late nerves when Cambridge skipper Luke Berry pulled one back in the closing stages.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that were beaten at Barnet during the week.

Conor Chaplin was handed his first start in more than four months, while Christian Burgess returned after serving a one-match ban.

Kal Naismith and a fit-again Danny Hollands featured in midfield, with Matt Clarke and Ben Close, as well as the injured duo of Adam McGurk and Michael Smith, making way.

The hosts made a bright start and Chaplin fired wide from a tight angle after both Kyle Bennett and Naismith had their paths to goal blocked.

Leon Legge then did well to cut the ball out after McNulty stole possession and tried to thread a pass through to Chaplin.

But the contest quickly descended into a scrappy affair, with a number of niggly challenges drawing a shrill whistle from referee Oliver Langford.

Jimmy Spencer was finally shown a yellow card after one foul too many, while Ben Davies quickly followed him into the book.

Cambridge then had their best chance of the half, with Ben Williamson’s low cross going just behind the onrushing Berry.

But it was the Blues who broke the deadlock on 41 minutes and, unsurprisingly, it came from a free-kick after McNulty had been upended.

Michael Doyle slipped the ball through to McNULTY, who brought it under control before rocketing a shot into the roof of the net.

Spencer was then slightly fortunate to remain on the pitch following a foul on Enda Stevens, with United boss Shaun Derry preparing a substitution before eventually deciding to wait until the break.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Cambridge 0

As expected, Spencer did not return for the start of the second half , with the striker wisely making way for Ryan Donaldson.

But it was the Blues who were first to threaten after the restart, with Bennett dragging a shot narrowly wide.

The half took a while to spark into life, however, with neither side looking particularly creative going forward.

But Pompey began to pick up as time went on and Chaplin was not quite able to pick out McNulty with a low cross.

Hollands’ drive was then kept out by Cambridge keeper Will Norris following a neat cut-back by Stevens.

And the hosts did double their advantage just past the hour mark to relieve any tension around the ground

It was Webster who started and finished the move, bringing the ball out of defence before finding Bennett.

The winger was unfortunate not to score himself with a fierce strike that Norris expertly tipped onto the crossbar.

But WEBSTER was following up to hook the ball home and send the Fratton faithful wild with delight.

Cook was forced into his first change on 73 minutes, with Naismith picking up a knock and being replaced by Gareth Evans.

Cambridge did reduce the deficit late on when a free-kick was headed back by Mark Roberts for Berry to score.

But the Blues saw out five minutes of stoppage-time to secure the win and move back into the League Two play-off places.

Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Naismith (Evans 73), Hollands, Doyle (c), Bennett (Tollitt 90+2); Chaplin (Clarke 87), McNulty
Goals: McNulty 41, Webster 62
Booked: Davies, McNulty, Chaplin
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Haunstrup, Barton

Cambridge (4-1-4-1): Norris; Furlong, Legge (Roberts 85), Coulson, Haynes; O’Neill (Simpson 56); Williamson, Berry (c), Ledson, Dunk; Spencer (Donaldson 46)
Goals: Berry 90
Booked: Spencer, Berry, Legge
Subs not used: Beasant, Omozusi, Keane

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 15,425 (587 away fans)

Portsmouth FC