Jul 192016
 
Friendly,,,,
,Salisbury,2 – 2,Portsmouth,

 

Hunt and Roberts net for Blues

Pompey were twice pegged back by Salisbury and had to settle for a draw in their latest pre-season outing at the Raymond McEnhill Stadium.

They created a host of chances and finally forged ahead through Noel Hunt, only for Justin Bennett to immediately equalise.

Gary Roberts’ restored the lead after the interval, but the Whites – despite rarely posing a threat – levelled again when Eddie Perrett headed home.

On a sweltering evening in Wiltshere, it was the hosts who made the brighter start and Pompey had to deal with a couple of free-kicks.

But Paul Cook’s side soon started to take control and Milan Lalkovic saw a shot deflected wide following a quick counter-attack.

Jack Whatmough then missed a great opportunity to break the deadlock on eight minutes, heading Gary Roberts’ cross wide after being left unmarked in the box.

Carl Baker has already shown that he is unafraid to have a pop, but appeared to leave his shooting boots at home with a couple of efforts that failed to find the target.

And Lee Angel then made a superb diving block to deny the midfielder as the Blues continued to threaten.

Hunt was looking a danger up front for the visitors and lifted a shot narrowly wide following a fine through ball by Roberts.

One fine flowing move involved Hunt and Baker, but Enda Stevens was unable to beat Whites keeper Charlie Searle after being teed-up.

Searle then made a stunning save to keep out a close-range Roberts header that seemed destined for the net.

But Pompey’s pressure finally paid dividends on 42 minutes when HUNT collected Stevens’ low cross and steered a shot inside the near post.

The lead lasted for just a minute, however, as a corner from Lewis Benson was emphatically headed home by Bennett.

There was still time for the Blues to go close before the break, but another superb Angel block denied Lalkovic.

Half Time: Salisbury 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey continued to look bright after the interval and Roberts’ header was deflected wide after the midfielder had met Drew Talbot’s cross.

Baker then slid a pass across the face of goal that was just out of the reach of substitute Michael Smith.

It was Smith who probably should have restored the Blues’ lead on 54 minutes, but he failed to find the target with a close-range header.

Pompey were dominating and it came as no surprise when they did score a second soon after.

Lalkovic slid a pass through to ROBERTS in the box and the midfielder’s shot creeped over the line, despite the best efforts of the Salisbury back-line to get the ball clear.

Salisbury were not doing much to test trialist keeper Chris Kanopka at the other end, with an effort from Tony Lee almost going out for a throw.

But they found themselves level on 72 minutes with another goal from a corner, as Benson’s cross was headed back for Perrett to flick home.

Pompey had an immediate chance to restore their advantage, but Smith could not quite squeeze the ball in from a tight angle.

Kyle Bennett then fired over the bar after Stevens had been released down the left by Roberts and delivered a low cross into the box.

Pompey continued to dominate possession as the game drew to a conclusion, but were unable to convert that into a winning goal.

Salisbury (4-4-2): Searle (Childs 62); Colson, Wheeler (c) (Leigh 74), Angel, Perrett; Herbert (Jones 46), Whelan, Benson, Young (Masterton 59); Wright (Lee 46), Bennett (Flint 67)
Goals: Bennett 43, Perrett 72

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Konopka; Talbot, Whatmough, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Lalkovic (Bennett 62); Hunt (Smith 46)
Goals: Hunt 42, Roberts 59
Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Haunstrup, Close, May, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Linganzi, Tollitt, Chaplin

Referee: Roger East

Attendance: 1,124

Portsmouth FC
Jul 162016
 
Friendly,,,,
,Sutton United,2 – 1,Portsmouth,

 

Oxlade-Chamberlain on target for Blues

Pompey’s unbeaten start to pre-season was ended by Sutton on a muggy afternoon at the Borough Sports Ground.

The hosts dominated the first half and deservedly led at the break thanks to goals from Roarie Deacon – who was on trial with the Blues earlier in the summer – and Bedsente Gomis.

But Paul Cook’s side looked much stronger following a host of second half substitutions and grabbed a consolation through Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain.

After a slow start, it was the non-league side who were first to threaten – and they immediately forged ahead.

It was Deacon who opened the scoring on eight minutes, steering the ball into the bottom corner after Dan Spence’s low cross had been laid into his path.

The hosts were, unsurprisingly, looking more comfortable on their artificial surface and caused the Blues back-line a few problems.

Ross Worner was not being overly troubled in the United goal, although he made a regulation save to deny Conor Chaplin following good work by Adam May and Brandon Haunstrup.

Instead it was Sutton providing most of the attacking threat and Ryan Burge swung a free-kick narrowly over the crossbar.

Alex Bass then had to beat away a shot from Dan Wishart after the left-back had beaten Chris Sessegnon and burst into the box.

Gomis was next to go close when he met Deacon’s cross and sent a header crashing against the crossbar.

And it was the midfielder who doubled the hosts’ advantage on 33 minutes, arriving at the far post to convert Ross Stearn’s cross.

Half Time: Sutton 2 Pompey 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Sutton should have had a third goal early in the second half, but Craig Eastmond blazed over the bar after being picked out by Deacon.

Pompey were still struggling to find a way through at the other end, although Curtis Main was not too far away with an audacious long-range effort that flashed over the bar.

They had another opening after breaking quickly up the pitch moments later, but Ben Close was crowded out and Main’s neat flick landed on the bar.

Main was the pick of the bunch for the Blues and he went close again on 65 minutes, with an effort that was deflected narrowly over.

Jack Whatmough came on just past the hour mark, with a further nine changes following a few moments later as Cook looked to give his whole squad a run-out.

And the visitors immediately looked brighter, with only a brave block preventing Theo Widdrington from reducing the deficit.

Pompey were suddenly providing a real attacking threat, with Carl Baker keen to add to his brace at Havant & Waterlooville during the week.

The summer signing fired a free-kick just past the post and then saw a shot kept out by the feet of Worner.

In between those chances, Gary Roberts was also denied by the Sutton keeper as the Blues tried to reduce the deficit.

And that is exactly what they did on 81 minutes when trialist Noel Hunt played a quick free-kick to Baker, whose low cross was converted by OXLADE-CHAMBERLAIN.

A resurgent Pompey tried to grab an equaliser, but it was last season’s National League South champions who able to celebrate the victory.

Sutton (4-1-4-1): Worner; Spence, Beckwith (John 69), Collins (c), Wishart (Amankwaah 63); Eastmond; Deacon, Gomis (Bailey 75), Burge (Downer 74), Stearn (Hudson-Odoi 66); Fitchett (Dundas 60)
Goals: Deacon 8, Gomis 33

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; Sessegnon (Talbot 69), Burgess (c) (Whatmough 63), Barton (Widdrington 69), Haunstrup (Stevens 69); Close (Rose 69), May (Doyle 69); Tollitt (Baker 69), Chaplin (Roberts 69), Lalkovic (Oxlade-Chamberlain 69); Main (Hunt 69)
Goals: Oxlade-Chamberlain 81

Referee: Craig Hicks

Attendance: 1,188

Portsmouth FC
Jul 132016
 
Friendly,,,,
,Havant & Waterlooville,0 – 5,Portsmouth,

 

Blues ease to friendly victory

Carl Baker bagged a brace as Pompey hit five unanswered goals past non-league neighbours Havant & Waterlooville at Westleigh Park.

The midfielder struck either side of the interval to give the Blues a commanding lead after Gary Roberts had opened the scoring.

Trialist Noel Hunt and Curtis Main then both came off the bench to cap a comfortable victory for Paul Cook’s side.

There was good news for the hosts before kick-off, as they announced the return of former Pompey midfielder Wes Fogden on a two-year deal.

But it was the visitors who had most of the joy once the action belatedly got underway, following a 15-minute delay to allow all the fans to get into the ground.

Danny Rose and Conor Chaplin went close in the opening stages, with the pair both narrowly failing to find the target.

In between was the Hawks’ only decent chance of the evening, with a crisp effort from ex-Fratton youngster Bradley Tarbuck superbly tipped around the post by Michael Crowe.

And Pompey broke the deadlock on 12 minutes when Milan Lalkovic slid a fine pass through to ROBERTS, who neatly lifted the ball over keeper Ryan Young and into the net.

The Blues continued to dominate and Baker had a hat-trick of efforts – the first clearing the ground, the second fizzing narrowly over and the third hit straight at Young.

Rose was next to go close midway through the first half, firing into the side netting following good build-up play from Michael Doyle and Lalkovic.

Baker was not afraid to try his luck from distance and another attempt from the summer signing had to be pushed to safety by Young.

And his persistence paid off just before the break with a strike that was most definitely worth the wait.

BAKER picked up the ball 30 yards from goal and hit a stunning shot that flew in off the underside of the crossbar, leaving Young rooted to the spot.

Half Time: Hawks 0 Pompey 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey picked up where they left off after the restart and Young had to come charging from his line to stop Chaplin racing onto Lalkovic’s pass.

The Hawks keeper then kept out Lalkovic’s stinging drive, but was unable to stop the Blues from grabbing a third goal.

He could only parry the ball as far as Roberts, who cut it back for BAKER to tap home from just a couple of yards out.

The usual pre-season flurry of substitutions meant that chances began to dry up and the pace started to slow.

But two of those late arrivals managed to find the net and give the scoreline an added gloss for the visitors.

First trialist HUNT slid in to convert Enda Stevens’ low cross from wide on the left after the full-back had picked up Doyle’s raking pass.

Then, after Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain had stolen possession and seen his shot parried by Young, MAIN followed-up to poke home.

He almost scored again late on, but a thunderous effort from 30-yards hit the inside of the post and flew clear.

There was a bit of needle between Main and Ben Swallow late on that would normally have received a harsher punishment than the ticking off dished out by referee Dean Treleaven.

But that was a rare moment of petulance in a good-natured contest that saw the Blues continue their preparations for the 2016/17 campaign in fine style.

Hawks (4-4-2): Young (Searle 65); Strugnell (Miller 89), Woodford (Molyneaux 54), Robinson, Williams (Medway 65); Swallow, Lewis (Ridge 65), Stock (c) (Whittingham 84), Tarbuck (Barker 54); Prior (Hayter 65), Paterson (Rutherford 54)

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Crowe; Talbot (Sessegnon 74), Whatmough (Bradbury 85), Burgess (Barton 78), Stevens (Haunstrup 76); Rose (Widdrington 74), Doyle (c) (Bedford 74); Baker (Oxlade-Chamberlain 71), Roberts (Main 69), Lalkovic (Tollitt 60); Chaplin (Hunt 57)
Goals: Roberts 12, Baker 45, 56, Hunt 69, Main 73

Referee: Dean Treleaven

Attendance: 2,300

Portsmouth FC
Jul 092016
 
Friendly,,,,
,Bohemians,0 – 2,Portsmouth,

 

Rose and Chaplin on target for Blues

Pompey brought their Irish tour to a close with a comfortable 2-0 victory at Bohemians.

Both goals arrived in the first half, with a couple of neat finishes from Danny Rose and Conor Chaplin.

Paul Cook’s side dominated proceedings and created enough chances to have won by a greater margin in Dublin.

A healthy number of Pompey fans were packed into one side of the dilapidated Dalymount Park.

And they saw their side control the first half, with plenty of openings carved out in the final game of the Blues’ Irish tour.

Bohemians keeper Shane Supple did well to keep the scores level early on, racing from his line to deny Carl Baker.

Chaplin then saw two shots blocked in quick succession before an effort from Kyle Bennett met the same fate.

The blue tide kept pouring forward and Milan Lalkovic’s drive was comfortable for Supple, while Baker could not avoid a visiting defender after rounding the Bohs keeper.

There was a nasty moment midway through the first half, however, as Stephen Best came off worse in a challenge with Bennett and had to be stretchered from the pitch.

Pompey soon broke the deadlock, with Lalkovic stealing possession and feeding ROSE, who neatly dinked the ball into the net.

Chaplin almost doubled the lead moments later, only for Supple to stick out a hand and divert his angled drive wide.

But the Blues did increase their advantage in stoppage-time, as CHAPLIN took advantage of a poor back-pass and kept his composure to round the keeper and slot home.

Half Time: Bohemians 0 Pompey 2

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey picked up where they left off following the interval, although Chaplin was not quite able to force a shot through a packed six-year box.

But Bohemians did have a couple of chances of their own, even if efforts from Ayman Ben Mohamed and Mark Quigley failed to overly trouble Martin Crowe in the Blues goal.

When the action returned to the other end of the pitch, Bennett was crudely felled right on the edge of the box, only for Enda Stevens’ low free-kick to be cleared.

Baker was next to try his luck following good work from the lively Lalkovic, but saw his shot deflected wide.

A steady stream of substitutions from the visitors disrupted any fluidity, as the game began to drift towards it conclusion.

There was a shot from Brandon Haunstrup – playing in a more advanced role than usual – but it rolled comfortably into Supple’s arms.

And Pompey suddenly looked brighter in the closing stages, with Ben Tollitt denied by a fine save before Gary Roberts narrowly failed to find the target.

They could not find another goal to reward those who had made the trip across the Irish Sea.

But the travelling Blues fans would have seen their players make another step forward as they prepare for their opening League Two encounter next month.

Bohemians (4-4-2): Supple; O’Hora (Hollywood 78), Mulcahy (c), Best (Lopes 31), Fitzgerald (Kelly 17 (Akinade 78)); P.Kavanagh (Buckley 46), Morris, J.Kavanagh, Caffrey (Flynn 81); Mohamed (Graydon 74), Quigley

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Crowe (Bass 69); Talbot (Sessegnon 72), Burgess, Barton (Whatmough 69), Stevens; Rose, Doyle; Bennett (Roberts 58), Baker (May 77), Lalkovic (Haunstrup 69); Chaplin (Tollitt 60)
Goals: Rose 33, Chaplin 45+1

Portsmouth FC
Jul 062016
 
Friendly,,,,
,Sligo Rovers,3 – 3,Portsmouth,

 

Draw for Blues in Irish testimonial

Conor Chaplin bagged a brace as Pompey drew 3-3 at Sligo in their opening pre-season friendly of the summer.

Gary Roberts also found the target in a testimonial match for long-serving Rovers favourite Gavin Peers.

That saw the visitors coast to a three-goal lead, only for the Irish outfit to hit back with three of their own after the break – including a spot-kick from man-of-the-moment Peers.

It was still an enjoyable return to The Showgrounds for Cook, though, who won three trophies when he managed the Irish club between 2007 and 2012.

There was certainly a testimonial feel to the first half, as the hosts fielded a side made up former team-mates of Peers.

One of them was Kieran Djilali – who had a short spell with the Blues in 2012 – while the brother of Westlife star Mark Feehily also featured.

Pompey, unsurprisingly, dominated before the break and they took the lead with just nine minutes on the clock.

Chaplin did well down the right and was able to pull the ball back for ROBERTS to tap home from just a yard out.

And he was able to return the favourite soon after, with CHAPLIN free to capitalise when the midfielder’s path to goal was blocked by keeper Ciaran Kelly.

Trialist stopper Michael Crowe was largely untroubled at the other end and Christian Burgess stopped him from having to make a save by blocking Djilali’s effort.

Djilali soon made a sheepish exit, however, as following a flurry of substitutions, referee Alan Kelly had failed to spot that Sligo had 12 men on the pitch.

Jack Whatmough did well to deny the Irish side on 38 minutes, charging across to halt a quick counter-attack.

Instead it was Pompey who added to the scoring soon after, with Roberts and CHAPLIN again combining, and the latter neatly lifting the ball home.

There were two chances to increase the lead further before the interval, but Roberts and Milan Lalkovic both narrowly failed to find the target.

Half Time: Sligo 0 Pompey 3

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Peers remained on the pitch for the second half and was this time joined by 10 of his current team-mates.

Cook also rung the changes, with Roberts and Chaplin the only Blues players not to be given a rest.

Sligo almost pulled a goal back on the hour mark, but Kieran Sadlier’s drive was beaten away by replacement keeper Eric Grimes and the winger sent his follow-up effort into the side netting.

Raffaele Cretaro then wasted a great opportunity to get on the scoresheet, missing a free header at the far post.

But Sligo did have a goal on 70 minutes and – although it appeared rather soft – there were no complaints when a penalty was awarded for a challenge on Phil Roberts by Tom Davies.

That gave Peers the chance to score from the spot and he confidently slotted the ball into the bottom corner before being withdrawn to a standing ovation.

It was soon Pompey who were back on the attack and Chaplin saw an effort blocked at point-blank range following good work from Kyle Bennett and Carl Baker.

With a total of 52 players used, the game had understandably lost a bit of impetus as it coasted towards a conclusion.

But it sparked back into life towards the end as the impressive Sadlier scored twice in quick succession to draw the hosts level.

First he poked home from close range following good work down the right by Cretaro and then rifled home the equaliser seconds later.

But more important for Cook was the chance to see his squad get some minutes under the belt, while Peers was rightly lauded for his loyalty to Sligo.

Sligo first half (4-4-1-1): Kelly; Keane, Peers (c), Burns (Flannery 24), Foy (McCartney 24); Djilali (McTiernan 24), O’Grady (Judge 31), Ventre, Dillon (Mansaram 31); Ndo (Feehily 33); Elding (McNamara 24)

Sligo second half (4-4-2): Schlingermann; Adebayo-Rowling, Peers (c) (Trialist 70), Boylan, Keohane; Kearns, Roddan, Russell (Lines 79), Sadlier; Cretaro (Place 86), Roberts
Goals: Peers 69 (pen), Sadlier 85, 87

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Crowe (trialist) (Grimes (trialist) 46); Talbot (Sessegnon (trialist) 46), Whatmough (Davies 46), Burgess (Barton 46), Haunstrup (Stevens 46); May (Close 46), Doyle (c) (Rose 46); Tollitt (Baker 46), Roberts (Konsiembo (trialist) 62), Lalkovic (Bennett 46); Chaplin (Tollitt 79)
Goals: Roberts 9, Chaplin 17, 40

Referee: Alan Kelly

Attendance: 1,127

Portsmouth FC
Jul 042016
 

Curtis Main

Transfer : Doncaster Rovers – Portsmouth



Blues bring in Doncaster striker

Pompey have signed striker Curtis Main from Doncaster for an undisclosed fee.

The 24-year-old has penned a two-year deal at Fratton Park, with the club having an option for a third year.

And he is hoping to help the Blues climb out of League Two in his first season on the south coast.

“I’m really happy and excited that it’s all been sorted and that I’m now a Pompey player,” said Main.

“I had my first training session with the lads on Saturday. I already knew a few of them and the rest have all been brilliant, so I’ve settled in effortlessly.

“I’ve come here to hopefully achieve promotion and I think that has to be the aim when you join a club like this.

“The fans know that we belong at a higher level and I think everyone agrees with that, so we’re all working in the same direction.

“I can’t wait to play in front of such large and passionate crowds at Fratton Park – that was a big draw for me signing here.”

Main started his career with Darlington, where he made his senior debut at the age of just 15.

He soon attracted the attention of Middlesbrough, spending three years with the Teesside club and making 48 Championship appearances.

Doncaster signed Main in the summer of 2014 and he scored 11 goals in 58 games for them, while also spending time on loan at Oldham last season.


Portsmouth FC

Jun 282016
 

Milan Lalkovic

Transfer : Walsall – Portsmouth



Pompey have signed Milan Lalkovic from Walsall after the clubs concluded a compensation agreement.

The 23-year-old Slovakian winger – who has represented his country up to under-21 level – has penned a two-year deal with the Blues.

He was part of the Saddlers side that narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to the Championship last season.

Pompey assistant manager Leam Richardson said: “He fits into the structure of how we play extremely well and is a very dynamic player.

“He’s someone who we’ve watched for some time now and has got the ability to get fans out of their seats.”

Lalkovic came through the ranks at Chelsea and had several spells out on loan before joining Czech side Mlada Boleslav and then Barnsley.

He moved to the Bescot Stadium last summer and scored eight goals in 51 appearances during the 2015/16 campaign.

Portsmouth FC

Jun 142016
 

Carl Baker

Free Agent



Pompey have agreed a deal to sign midfielder Carl Baker on a two-year contract from July 1.

The 33-year-old joins fellow new additions Matt Clarke and Danny Rose as Paul Cook continues to shape his squad for the 2016/17 campaign.

Baker has spent the past two seasons at MK Dons, where he scored 15 goals in 72 appearances.

And he is delighted to make the move to Fratton Park, having come close to joining the Blues fairly recently.

“I very nearly signed for Pompey two years ago,” Baker recalled. “It’s lovely to finally arrive on the south coast.

“Since then I’ve kept a close eye on their results and another big factor in me coming here is that Paul Cook was my boss at Southport, where I started out.

“He’s an extremely passionate manager who is very knowledgeable and wants his teams to play football in a certain way.

“I know all about the expectations of the fans and far from fazing me, it’s a reason why I wanted to sign – along with the undoubted size of this club.

“I already know lads like Gary Roberts, Michael Doyle and Adam Barton and although I may have dropped down the league, after speaking to the manager I am in no doubt that Pompey are going places.”

Baker netted 10 goals in the 2014/15 season when MK Dons won automatic promotion to the Championship and was named Player of the Year.

The going was tougher last term and Karl Robinson’s side were relegated back to the third tier, but the midfielder still chipped in with five strikes.

After beginning his career in the non-league game with Southport, Baker moved on to feature for Morecambe and Stockport.

He then spent four-and-a-half years with Coventry, scoring 28 goals in 182 games and being named captain.


Portsmouth FC

Jun 032016
 

Danny Rose

Free Agent



Midfielder pens Blues deal

Pompey have agreed a deal to sign midfielder Danny Rose on a two-year contract.

The 28-year-old – who won the League Two title with Northampton last term – will officially become a Blues player on July 1.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” said Rose. “It was a deal that moved along quite quickly and the opportunity to play for a club like Pompey was one that I couldn’t turn down.

“I’m really excited about working with Paul Cook and the rest of the lads, and hopefully having a successful campaign.

“I played the last game of the season here with Northampton and was taken aback by the atmosphere for a game that had nothing really riding on it.

“So the opportunity to perform in front of those passionate fans week in, week out is very exciting.

“It’s a special place to play football and when the call came, it was a challenge that I was eager to accept.

“Pre-season is not the most enjoyable time, but I’m excited to get going when we return after summer break.”

Pompey suffered play-off heartache at the end of the 2015/16 campaign and Rose hopes they can follow in his former side’s footsteps next season.

He said: “There’s no hiding the fact that this is the biggest club in this division and there will always be certain expectations.

“But I’m sure that the squad we’ve got here – and the players who are sure to arrive – are capable of challenging for promotion.

“Having come here off the back of winning League Two, I’ve got experience of what it takes and that could be useful.”

Rose joined Northampton back in February and scored once in 15 appearances as the Cobblers cruised to the title.

The former Manchester United trainee previously appeared for Newport, Fleetwood and Oxford, playing more than 100 times for the latter in three separate spells.


Portsmouth FC

May 172016
 

After the disappointment of the play off defeat Paul Cook has started to trim the squad for next season.

Brian Murphy, Chad Field and Snorre Nilsen have been released following the expiration of their contracts.

Adam McGurk, Kal Naismith and Matt Tubbs have been transfer listed. Options taken up on Tollitt, May and Close. Talks continue with Hollands and Davies.

Good to see Tollitt kept, the only real surprise in Naismith who was just starting to show some promise.


Portsmouth FC

May 152016
 

Match Report

League Two (Play Off)


 

Plymouth Argyle    1

 


 

Portsmouth    0

 


Late goal denies Blues a Wembley trip

Peter Hartley struck deep into stoppage-time to condemn Pompey to another season in League Two.

The game seemed to be heading for an extra 30 minutes when the defender rose to head home a corner and break Blues hearts.

Both sides had earlier chances to score as the tie became increasingly ragged and open towards the end.

But it was Plymouth who were celebrating a 3-2 aggregate victory and trip to Wembley, while Pompey will have to go again in August.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that drew 2-2 with Argyle in the first leg at Fratton Park.

The only change came on the bench, where a fit-again Conor Chaplin replaced his namesake Wilkinson.

Both sets of supporters at a warm and sunny Home Park were anticipating another exciting, incident-packed affair following Thursday night’s drama.

But, in reality, it was much cagier contest, with the sides unwilling to take too many risks in search of a goal.

It was the hosts who started brighter, though, and Ryan Allsop pushed Graham Carey’s shot over before Jake Jervis hit a free-kick off target.

But Pompey began to get a grip as the half progressed and the lively Kyle Bennett found the side netting after cutting into the box.

Marc McNulty then latched onto a long ball forward, only to roll a tame shot straight into the arms of Luke McCormick.

The visitors were starting to dominate possession, but were unable to cause the Argyle keeper any more problems.

Gary Roberts’ cute pass for Gareth Evans was cut out, while McNulty’s effort from distance sailed high over the bar.

Pompey received a blow on 31 minutes when Evans was caught by a strong challenge from Carl McHugh.

The Plymouth midfielder was booked by referee Paul Tierney and Evans limped off to be replaced by Adam McGurk.

And the replacement was soon involved in the action, first just failing to beat McCormick to Roberts’ clever pass and then teeing-up Bennett for a shot that was scuffed wide.

The Pilgrims were struggling to see much of the ball and when they did create an opening, Jervis wasted it.

Then, with the interval approaching, Cook was forced to make another substitution. This time it was Danny Hollands who went down, with Ben Close coming on in his place.


Half Time

Plymouth Argyle 0

Portsmouth 0


Pompey were quickly out of the traps following the restart and after McNulty had bundled his way into the box, Roberts saw a shot deflected behind.

They then broke quickly up the pitch, with space opening up for the advancing McGurk, whose effort was comfortable for McCormick.

The visitors were starting to look a real threat and after Roberts was impeded 25 yards out, Ben Davies stepped up to curl a free-kick into the side netting.

It was Roberts who was next to have a go when McCormick raced from his box and made a poor clearance, but Pompey’s talisman could not steer the ball home.

Plymouth then enjoyed a decent spell of their own, with Jervis bending a shot past the post before Hiram Boateng steered Gregg Wylde’s low cross wide.

And they should have broken the deadlock on 58 minutes after McNulty over-ran the ball and Michael Doyle’s attempted clearance ricocheted into Jamille Matt’s path.

The striker bore down on goal, but went for power over accuracy and blazed his shot over the crossbar.

It was certainly more open than the first half and McGurk fired over after attempting to capitalise on a poor clearance.

And the action soon switched to the other end of the pitch, where Matt headed Carey’s corner wide from just a few yards out.

Pompey received another let off on 73 minutes when Carey’s header cannoned off Adam Barton and had to be cleared from the line by a well-placed McNulty.

They were struggling to keep hold of the ball, but did enjoy a spell of pressure late on, as Bennett beat a couple of challenges before seeing his shot deflected behind.

Plymouth could only partially clear the resulting corner and when the ball was sent back into the box, Close volleyed over.

But the hosts almost grabbed a winner on 89 minutes, only for an unmarked Jervis to head against the post after being picked out by Craig Tanner.

It was only a brief respite, however, as with just seconds remaining, Carey swung in a corner and Hartley arrived at the far post to head home.

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Sawyer; Boateng, McHugh; Jervis, Carey, Wylde (Tanner 75); Matt
Goals: Hartley 90+2
Booked: McHugh
Subs not used: Dorel, Forster, Purrington, Harvey, Rooney, Reid

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Allsop; Davies, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands (Close 44), Doyle (c); Evans (McGurk 31), Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 90+3); McNulty
Booked: Close
Subs not used: Whatmough, Haunstrup, Tollitt, Naismith

Referee: Paul Tierney

Attendance: 15,011 (1,696 Pompey fans)


Portsmouth FC

May 122016
 

Match Report

League Two (Play Off)


 

Portsmouth    2

 


 

Plymouth Argyle    2

 


McNulty and Roberts on target

Pompey and Plymouth could not be separated in an absorbing first leg play-off contest at a packed Fratton Park.

Marc McNulty’s early strike got the Blues off to a dream opening, only for Jamille Matt’s brace to turn the game on its head.

Argyle’s forward escaped a red card following a tussle with Michael Doyle in between those two goals.

But the hosts grabbed an equaliser in the second half, courtesy of Gary Roberts’ confidently-taken spot-kick.

Paul Cook made seven changes from the side that narrowly lost to champions Northampton at the weekend.

One of them took everyone by surprise, with a goalkeeping injury crisis seeing Ryan Allsop signed on loan from Bournemouth and thrown straight into the team.

There were also returns for Christian Burgess and Enda Stevens at the back, Danny Hollands and skipper Doyle in midfield, and Kyle Bennett and McNulty in attack.

The game began at a frenetic pace and there was plenty of controversy to spice up the first half on the south coast.

But the Blues made an excellent start by breaking the deadlock after just three minutes.

Doyle stole possession from Curtis Nelson and the ball feel kindly for McNULTY to drive into the net.

The hosts set about trying to double their advantage, but Luke McCormick did well to claim a dangerous cross from Stevens.

Instead Plymouth found soon themselves level, with Gregg Wylde sending the ball into the mix and Matt beating Allsop to head home from close range.

The Argyle striker was arguably fortunate to stay on the pitch moments later, after appearing to headbutt Doyle following a scuffle between the pair.

Cook was livid on the sidelines and his reaction saw him sent to the stands by referee Oliver Langford, quickly followed by Plymouth first team coach Paul Wotton.

And Matt soon added salt to the wound by firing the visitors ahead, controlling Kelvin Mellor’s long throw and sending an acrobatic over-head effort looping into the net.

There were then half-chances at both ends as the game continued at a breathless pace, with Hollands firing wide before Graham Carey’s effort fizzed narrowly off target.

Pompey were pushing for a leveller and it took a fine challenge by Peter Hartley to dispossess Gareth Evans in the box as the winger prepared to shoot.

McNulty was next to go close, but his fierce effort flew narrowly wide following good link-up play between Burgess and Roberts.

Both sides certainly looked capable of adding to the scoring and some Pilgrims fans thought their side had when Carey’s free-kick hit the side netting.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Plymouth Argyle 2


Pompey went straight on the attack after the interval and Evans hit one effort over before Bennett saw his shot blocked.

And the hosts were level on 51 minutes after Langford pointed to the spot for a foul on McNulty by Hartley.

The Plymouth defender was shown a yellow card before ROBERTS stepped up to emphatically fire home the penalty.

McCormick then had to make sure he held Evans’ cross from the right, with Roberts waiting to pounce at the far post.

And the Argyle keeper also made a decent stop to deny McNulty following a quick Blues break, although an unmarked Bennett was screaming for the ball to his left.

The hosts made their first switch just past the hour mark and it was Bennett who was withdrawn for Kal Naismith.

He was soon involved in the action, but could not quite get on the end of Evans’ teasing cross from the right.

Pompey were dominating possession by this point and forcing their opponents to sit deeper, but the Pilgrims defence were holding firm.

McNulty was withdrawn on 81 minutes, with Adam McGurk given a chance to impress up front.

It was Ben Davies who had a chance to fire them in front soon after, however, with McCormick forced to save at his near post.

But, with the game ending 2-2, the outcome was still very much up in the air as the sides prepare to do battle once more at Home Park on Sunday.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Allsop; Davies, Burgess, Barton, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts, Bennett (Naismith 62); McNulty (McGurk 81)
Goals: McNulty 3, Roberts 51 (pen)
Booked: Hollands, Barton
Subs not used: Whatmough, Haunstrup, Close, Tollitt, Wilkinson

Plymouth (4-2-3-1): McCormick; Mellor, Nelson (c), Hartley, Sawyer; McHugh, Boateng (Purrington 80); Jervis, Carey, Wylde; Matt (Tanner 90+1)
Goals: Matt 9, 19
Booked: Carey, Hartley, Sawyer, Purrington
Subs not used: Dorel, Forster, Harvey, Rooney, Reid

Referee: Oliver Langford

Attendance: 17,622 (1,902 away fans)


Portsmouth FC