Feb 232016
 

Barnet 1 v 0 Portsmouth

Pompey’s promotion hopes took another blow as they slipped to defeat at Barnet.

It was former Blues striker John Akinde who grabbed the only goal of the game from the penalty spot late in the first half.

The visitors improved after the interval and Adam McGurk went closest in their ultimately unsuccessful attempt to find an equaliser.

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

Marc McNulty came in up front, with Michael Smith dropping to the bench, while there were also starts for Matt Clarke and McGurk in place of the suspended Christian Burgess and injured Gareth Evans.

Pompey struggled to deal with Barnet’s physical style in the first half and lacked any real fluidity going forward.

There were no real scoring chances in the opening stages and the only noteworthy moment was an early substitution.

Gary Roberts hurt his hamstring in a challenge after just eight minutes and had to be replaced by Kal Naismith.

The first opportunity fell to the hosts, with Ryan Fulton just about preventing a Sam Muggleton corner from creeping in at the near post.

Akinde then raced onto a long ball forward, but – under pressure from Adam Webster – could only hit a tame effort straight at Fulton.

But excitement was thin on the ground in a largely attritional and niggly encounter that failed to spark.

Both sides realised that shots from long-range might be the best way to break the deadlock and swerving efforts from Naismith and Mark Randall were just about dealt with by the respective keepers.

Instead, the opening goal came from the penalty mark and arrived after Ben Davies’ gained too many yards from a throw to see possession overturned.

The ball was launched into the Blues box, where Webster was adjudged to have tripped Akinde.

Referee Philip Gibbs pointed straight to the spot and it was Akinde stepped up to coolly slot the ball into the bottom corner.

That seemed to jolt Pompey into life and Bondz N’Gala made a vital block to deny McNulty before Jamie Stephens gathered McGurk’s long-range strike at the second attempt.

Half Time: Barnet 1 Pompey 0

The visitors made a sloppy start to the second half, but Mathew Stevens was unable to capitalise on some poor defending.

They almost drew level moments later, however, with McGurk rising above his marker to meet Davies’ cross and draw a fingertip save from Stephens.

A deep free-kick from Naismith then somehow evaded everyone as it curled frustratingly out of play.

Cook made his second switch on the hour mark – and it was an attacking one as Ben Close made way for Smith.

But it was Naismith who should have levelled moments later, firing over the bar after being picked out by McNulty’s cut-back.

Clarke was next to go close on 66 minutes when he met Naismith’s free-kick from the left and saw his header saved by Stephens.

Pompey were looking much more of a threat now and it took a last-gasp clearance by Michael Nelson to get Davies’ low cross to safety.

Cook made his final throw of the dice on 78 minutes, bringing on Conor Chaplin in place of McNulty.

He was soon into the action after being bundled over by Tom Champion, only to see his free-kick punched clear by Stephens.

The Blues kept pushing forward in the closing stages, but their large travelling support – who made up more than half of the total attendance – were not to be rewarded.

Barnet (4-2-3-1): Stephens; Pearson, N’Gala, Nelson, Muggleton; Randall (Vilhete 62), Champion; Yiadom (c), Stevens (Togwell 52), Weston; Akinde (Sesay 84)
Goals: Akinde 41 (pen)
Booked: Champion, Randall, Yiadom, Muggleton
Subs not used: McKenzie-Lyle, Shomotun, Gambin, Hackett

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Close (Smith 60), Doyle (c); McGurk, Roberts (Naismith 8), Bennett; McNulty (Chaplin 78)
Booked: Webster
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Barton, Hollands

Referee: Philip Gibbs

Attendance: 2,557 (1,330 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 132016
 

Portsmouth 3 v 1 Bristol Rovers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Half Time: Pompey 2 Bristol Rovers 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Referee: Trevor Kettle

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

Portsmouth FC
Feb 092016
 
OUT
Matt Tubbs

(31)
Eastleigh


Matt Tubbs joins Eastleigh on loan till the end of season

While the progressive Pompey continue to drive forward, they have left behind the prolific 31-year-old.

Today’s loan move to Eastleigh for the remainder of the season was long-anticipated.

Stewart Donald’s club have realistic aspirations of reaching League Two. Tubbs is a natural fit.

He arrived at Fratton Park in January 2015 with much expectancy and, unlike so many recruits in recent times, didn’t disappoint.

During Tubbs’ early days with the Blues, they dropped as low as 18th in League Two under Andy Awford.

Yet once opening his account against Hartlepool upon his fifth appearance, there was never any danger of Pompey being dragged into non-league football.

Tubbs went on to score nine goals in 23 appearances – in the process establishing a decent strike partnership with Ryan Taylor.

There was the hat-trick at Cambridge United in February 2015, a team he flourishes against.

He also netted in wins over Hartlepool, Luton and Mansfield in addition to three draws. By the season’s end, his goals had contributed to 15 points.

Regardless, the club closed the campaign in 16th – its lowest finish in a 95-year Football League existence.

Yet League Two’s golden boot winner would soon endure a frustrating time.

Paul Cook arrived in May armed with a new system involving one striker in attack.

Despite starting the opening four league matches at the head of a 4-2-3-1 formation, the ongoing concern was Tubbs was not a natural in the role.

Jayden Stockley and Adam McGurk were soon catapulted above him, before both were struck down by injury.

Tubbs returned and netted in wins over Cambridge and Newport – yet failed to make a Blues squad since October 31.

Ironically, Cook has returned to a 4-4-2 in the last two matches, with Tubbs still rigidly out-of-favour.

On Saturday he instead played Fifa Soccer with young fans at Fratton Park, continuing to fulfil club duties.

Now, after 40 games and 14 goals, he has answered the SOS call from another club.

And we all know he will not let them down.

Portsmouth FC
Feb 062016
 

Portsmouth 0 v 1 Leyton Orient

A stunning strike from Jobi McAnuff saw Pompey’s promotion charge stutter once more.

Leyton Orient leapfrogged their opponents in the table after limiting the hosts to few clear-cut chances.

Marc McNulty had the best of them before the break, but it was the Londoners who looked more likely to add to the scoring.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that drew at Morecambe during the week.

Kieron Freeman was brought in for his debut at right-back, while Christian Burgess, Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett all returned to the starting line-up.

Adam Webster – who was carrying a slight hamstring strain – dropped to the bench, along with Ben Davies and Gareth Evans, while Kal Naismith missed out completely.

Former Pompey loanee Alex Cisak started between the sticks for the visitors, but there was no place in their side for Nigel Atangana.

The Blues came roaring out of the blocks and McNulty drew a save from Cisak in the opening few seconds.

Then, at the other end of the pitch, Sammy Moore’s delivery from the right was deflected onto the roof of the net.

Those incidents did not foreshadow a half of scintillating football, however, with the game soon turning into a drab affair.

The crowd did their best to lift the mood at a blustery Fratton Park, but chances were thin on the ground.

Pompey did spark into life around the half-hour mark when Cisak came charging off his line to deny McNulty following good work from Bennett.

Freeman was then not quite able to pick out Roberts with a raking pass in a move that began with a lovely bit of trickery by Ben Close.

Ryan Fulton had not been troubled in Pompey’s goal, but Orient did carve out a couple of chances before the break.

McAnuff was the creator for both, with his crosses headed into the side netting by Mathieu Baudry and narrowly wide by Moore.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Leyton Orient 0

Pompey had an opportunity just after the restart when the rampaging Freeman was felled wide on the right.

He took the free-kick quickly and Roberts’ cut-back was intercepted, with Freeman hitting the loose ball wide.

But Orient wasted an excellent chance to break the deadlock moments later – and it was their manager who was left hanging his head.

Burgess made a great block to deny Jack Payne, but the ball sat up nicely for Kevin Nolan, who somehow managed to hit the bar from a few yards out.

His blushes were spared on 53 minutes, however, thanks to a stunning strike from McAnuff.

Jay Simpson’s path to goal was blocked and the ball sat up for the winger, who fired home an unstoppable first time shot from 25 yards.

Cook made his first change on the hour mark, with home debutant Michael Smith making way for Evans and Pompey reverting to their usual 4-2-3-1 system.

They soon had an opening when Bennett’s free-kick from the left made its way through a crowded box without anyone managing to get a touch.

But it was Orient who almost doubled their lead on 66 minutes, with Simpson hooking over from close range after Fulton had kept out Nolan’s header.

Simpson went close again moments later when he met McAnuff’s cross with a diving header that flew straight at Fulton.

Pompey soon made a double change to try to inject some attacking impetus, with Conor Chaplin and Adam McGurk on for Bennett and McNulty.

Referee Graham Salisbury booked Cisak for time-wasting as the visitors looked to see out the closing stages.

Pompey were desperately trying to get the ball into the box and Chaplin’s header was deflected wide from Roberts’ corner.

But it was Orient who almost scored near the end when Armand Gnanduillet met a cross at the far post and volleyed against the woodwork.

And McGurk and Michael Doyle were both denied by brave Nicky Hunt blocks deep into stoppage-time as the visitors held on to secure all three points.

Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Freeman, Burgess, Clarke, Stevens; Roberts, Close, Doyle (c), Bennett (Chaplin 73); McNulty (McGurk 73), Smith (Evans 60)
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Bass, Davies, Webster, Barton

Leyton Orient (4-1-4-1): Cisak; Hunt, Baudry (c), Brisley, Shaw; Payne; McAnuff, Moore (Clohessy 73), Nolan (Pritchard 70), Jahraldo-Martin; Simpson (Gnanduillet 80)
Goals: McAnuff 53
Booked: Cisak
Subs not used: Sargeant, Essam, Binnom-Williams, Palmer

Referee: Graham Salisbury

Attendance: 15,643 (1,031 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 022016
 

Morecombe 1 v 1 Portsmouth

Morecambe goalkeeper Barry Roche headed home a last-gasp leveller to cruelly deny Pompey victory at a gusty Globe Arena.

The Blues were seconds away from brushing off their FA Cup disappointment by returning to winning ways in the league.

Gareth Evans struck late in the first half and it looked like it would be enough to secure all three points in a game of few chances.

But Roche came up for a corner in the final minute of stoppage-time to grab an unlikely equaliser.

Paul Cook made four changes from the outfit that were narrowly beaten by Bournemouth at the weekend.

Deadline day loan signing Michael Smith was thrown straight into a side that was set-up in a more traditional 4-4-2 formation.

Winger Kal Naismith was a surprise inclusion, making his first Pompey appearance for almost three months.

There were also starts for Adam Webster and Evans, as Christian Burgess, Gary Roberts, Kyle Bennett and Adam McGurk all dropped to the bench.

The visitors made a bright start and Andy Parrish was well-placed to clear Marc McNulty’s low cross before it could reach a blue-shirted player.

Evans then stole possession in a dangerous position, but could not quite thread a pass through to McNulty.

Webster was grateful to Ryan Fulton at the other end on 13 minutes after his sliced clearance was claimed by the teenage keeper.

But Pompey were soon back on the attack and Smith could not get enough power on his shot to trouble Roche after collecting Enda Stevens’ free-kick and turning sharply in the box.

The Morecambe keeper then almost gave Morecambe the lead in farcical fashion when his goal-kick caught a strong gust of wind.

A back-pedalling Fulton just about managed to grab the ball under his crossbar and had to palm it away to stop his momentum taking it over the line.

The conditions were making life difficult for both sides, with the gusts and bobbly pitch not exactly conducive for the Blues’ usual passing game.

But they almost forged ahead on 28 minutes when Webster met Naismith’s corner and saw his angled volley cleared from the line by Kevin Ellison.

Debutant Smith then went close with a curling effort that was deflected narrowly past the post.

The wind aside, Fulton was not being overly troubled and a long-range strike from Tom Barkhuizen flew straight into his arms.

Pompey were looking more threatening, however, and the hardy bunch of travelling fans soon had something to celebrate.

Their side might have taken the lead on 39 minutes, but McNulty blazed over after being sent through by Ben Close.

They only had to wait a few more seconds for a goal, however, as Naismith did well to tee-up EVANS for a cool finish.

Smith tried to add another before the break, but his fierce effort from distance fizzed narrowly past the post.

Half Time: Morecambe 0 Pompey 1

Pompey continued to look the more dangerous side once the second half started and soon had a couple of openings.

First McNulty burst into the box, only to see his low centre cut out by Parrish before it could reach a team-mate.

And the wind was then playing its old tricks when Close’s corner landed on the crossbar and was bundled away by Roche.

The Blues kept up the pressure and Naismith’s free-kick clipped the top of the wall after Andrew Fleming had been booked for handling just outside the box.

Morecambe were not doing enough to threaten the visitors’ lead, but Luke Conlan finally found space down the left 70 minutes, only for his low cross to evade everyone on its way out of play.

Cook made a double switch moments later, with Naismith and Smith making way for Bennett and Roberts.

But the tide was starting to turn in the Shrimps’ favour and they were forcing their opponents into some sloppy passing.

And the hosts were not too far away from an equaliser on 81 minutes when Jamie Devitt curled a shot onto the roof of the net.

McGurk came on for McNulty for the closing stages as Cook decided to freshen up his forward line.

Pompey looked to have hung on for the win when Fulton flung himself to the left and kept out Lee Molyneux’s strike in the fourth minute of stoppage-time.

But there was still time for Roche to rush forward for the resulting corner and grab a point for Morecambe.

Morecambe (4-2-3-1): Roche; Beeley (c), Dugdale, Parrish, Conlan; Goodall, Fleming; Barkhuizen, Devitt (Molyneux 82), Ellison (Mullin 75); Miller
Goals: Roche 90+4
Booked: Fleming, Beeley
Subs not used: O’Hara, Edwards, Wilson, Doyle

Pompey (4-4-2): Fulton; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Evans, Close, Doyle (c), Naismith (Bennett 72); Smith (Roberts 72), McNulty (McGurk 83)
Goals: Evans 40
Booked: Clarke
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Barton, Chaplin

Referee: Richard Clark

Attendance: 1,399 (479 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Feb 012016
 
IN
Michael Smith

(24)
Swindon Town


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

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

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

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

Portsmouth FC
Jan 302016
 
FA Cup 4
Portsmouth 1 – 2 AFC Bournemouth

 

Pompey lose to Premier opposition

Pompey were not quite able to cause an Emirates FA Cup upset against Premier League opposition at Fratton Park.

But the hosts can be proud of their efforts against Bournemouth – as well as their attractive passing football.

A shock looked on the cards when Gary Roberts deservedly fired the Blues ahead just before the interval.

But Joshua King and Marc Pugh were on target in the second half to ensure the Blues’ cup adventure ended at the fourth round.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side beaten by Oxford in the league the previous week.

Christian Burgess, Ben Close and Adam McGurk all came into the starting 11, with Adam Webster, Adam Barton and Gareth Evans dropping to the bench.

It was the League Two side who looked more threatening in the opening stages, with Marc McNulty causing plenty of problems.

One of his surges forward was only halted by the presence of former Fratton favourite Sylvain Distin, while a shot moments later flew narrowly wide.

Pompey also won a couple of corners in quick succession that caused problems in the Bournemouth back-line.

The visitors had to rely on Adam Federici to keep the scores level on 19 minutes, with the keeper getting down sharply to tip behind McNulty’s long-range effort.

Bournemouth, unsurprisingly, improved as the game progressed and Eunan O’Kane curled a free-kick wide after Burgess had been booked for a foul on Glenn Murray.

Ryan Fulton then made a super save, getting down low to his left to turn Juan Iturbe’s drive onto the post.

But it was the Blues who finished the half with a flourish and it was a patient passing move that led to them taking the lead on 43 minutes.

The Cherries could not win back possession as their opponents selfishly kept hold of the ball and the move ended with McNulty squaring for ROBERTS to slide home.

Fratton Park erupted with jubilation as the midfielder wheeled away to celebrate and there were more cheers when referee Mike Dean blew for the interval soon after.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Bournemouth 0

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey remained on the attack once the second half got started, although Dean was not convinced by Enda Stevens’ optimistic penalty appeals.

Ben Davies then curled a 30-yard free-kick over the wall, but Federici was able to keep hold of the ball.

And Kyle Bennett did brilliantly to skip past Shaun MacDonald’s challenge and feed Roberts, who was almost falling to the ground as he dragged a shot wide.

Bournemouth responded with a double change, with Matt Ritchie getting warm applause from all four sides of the ground as he came on alongside Pugh.

And Cook made two switches of his own, as Roberts and Burgess made way for Evans and Webster.

The latter was immediately involved in the action, making a vital interception to stop King’s low ball reaching its intended target.

But the Cherries were level on 71 minutes when Davies conceded a free-kick wide on the left and O’Kane’s delivery was glanced home by King.

Pompey had a chance to restore their lead through a set-piece of their own moments later when McNulty was felled.

Bennett stepped up to take the free-kick and his shot was claimed right underneath the crossbar by Federici.

Cook made his final throw of the dice on 77 minutes, with Ben Tollitt replacing McGurk on the wing.

Both sides seemed keen to avoid a replay and were not content to simply sit back and defend.

It took a fine challenge from Matt Clarke to stop Lewis Grabban from firing the Cherries ahead from just a couple of yards out on 83 minutes.

But they did score just seconds later when, after Fulton had saved superbly from Grabban, substitute Pugh was on hand to convert.

Pompey tried their best to find a late equaliser, but it was the Premier League side who held on to book their place in Sunday’s draw.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Burgess (Webster 62), Clarke, Stevens; Close, Doyle (c); McGurk (Tollitt 77), Roberts (Evans 62), Bennett; McNulty
Goals: Roberts 43
Booked: Burgess
Subs not used: Jones, Barton, Naismith, Chaplin

Bournemouth (4-4-1-1): Federici; Smith, Elphick (c) (Francis 77), Distin, Cargill; Iturbe (Pugh 62), O’Kane, MacDonald, King; Grabban; Murray (Ritchie 62)
Goals: King 71, Pugh 83
Booked: O’Kane
Subs not used: Allsop, Simpson, Wakefield, Butcher

Referee: Mike Dean

Attendance: 18,901 (2,885 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 282016
 
OUT
Michael Poke

(30)
Released
Romuald Boco

(30)
Released


Michael Poke and Romuald Boco leave Portsmouth by mutual consent

Rommy Boco and Michael Poke have left Pompey by mutual consent.

Versatile Boco, who joined the club as a free agent in September, made his debut at Newport in October.

The 30-year-old Benin international played a total five games for the Blues.

Goalkeeper Poke joined the Fratton Park club in the summer of 2014 as competition for Paul Jones.

He leaves without making a single first-team appearance after two loan spells at National League Eastleigh.

Portsmouth FC
Jan 282016
 

Kieron Freeman

Loan : Sheffield United – Portsmouth



Pompey have signed Kieron Freeman on loan from Sheffield United for the remainder of the season.

The 23-year-old – who will wear the number 17 shirt during his time at Fratton Park – can play on the left or right side of defence.

He said: “I got the call from the gaffer and I was excited to come down here because it’s a really big club.

“I know quite a few of the boys already and that will certainly help me to settle in quickly.

“I’ve played in front of big crowds at Sheffield United before and I know that Pompey also have an impressive following.

“So I’m looking forward to getting some more games under my belt and hopefully help to get this team promoted.”

Freeman has scored twice in 43 appearances for the Blades since signing from Derby in January 2015.

The Nottingham Forest academy graduate also enjoyed a spell on loan at Bramall Lane the previous season.

Freeman has featured 22 times this term, with Sheffield United currently sitting just outside the play-off places in League One.

He appeared – and scored – in their FA Cup first round victory over Worcester, so is cup-tied for this weekend’s clash with Bournemouth.

Portsmouth FC

Jan 232016
 

Portsmouth 0 v 1 Oxford United

Pompey lost ground on the automatic promotion places with a 1-0 home defeat to Oxford.

Jordan Bowery came off the bench to score the only goal of the game late on at a packed Fratton Park.

Goalkeeper Ryan Fulton had earlier conceded and then saved a penalty in a memorable debut for the teenager.

The Blues’ best chance came before the break when Marc McNulty’s effort was cleared off the line.

Paul Cook made two changes from the side that knocked Ipswich out of the FA Cup earlier in the week.

Fulton was thrown straight into the side after completing his loan switch from Liverpool the previous day.

He replaced the injured Brian Murphy in goal, while Christian Burgess made way for Matt Clarke in defence.

Oxford, meanwhile, were without former Fratton striker Ryan Taylor, with ex-Pompey boss Michael Appleton moving top scorer Kemar Roofe up front.

The game began at a frantic pace and continued in that vein for the rest of the first half.

But the Fratton faithful were not happy with a number of decisions by Neil Swarbrick and gave the referee a standing ovation when he finally awarded their side a free-kick.

The visitors looked an attacking threat, although Fulton was not being overworked on his debut.

He did, however, have to come charging out of his box on 16 minutes to beat Danny Hylton to the ball.

Johnny Mullins and Roofe both headed over from set-pieces, while George Baldock fired a shot into the side netting.

But it was the Blues who almost broke the deadlock on 19 minutes after Gary Roberts and McNulty traded clever passes inside the box.

The latter then controlled the ball neatly before firing in a shot that Jake Wright had to clear from the line.

Kyle Bennett also came close with a 20-yard free-kick that was deflected narrowly over the crossbar.

The game was still being played at a breathtaking speed as the interval drew nearer, but the closest Oxford came to a goal was when Liam Sercombe drilled wide.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Oxford 0

The pace did not let up following the restart and United were given a chance to forge ahead on 51 minutes.

Hylton burst into the box and Fulton caught the striker as he tried to beat him to the ball, with Swarbrick immediately pointing to the spot.

But the keeper went from villain to hero, diving to his right to save Sercombe’s penalty and then brilliantly recovering to stop him converting the loose ball.

Cook made his first substitution soon after, with Adam Barton making way for Ben Close in midfield.

Pompey then won a couple of corners, with Ben Davies’ delivery for the second just too high for Adam Webster at the far post.

Cook injected a fresh attacking impetus into his side on 63 minutes, as Adam McGurk came on for Roberts.

It was Close who lined up a long-range drive moments later, however, only to see his shot blocked before it could reach the goal.

The Blues were now on top, but Roofe caused concern at the other end when he swung in a free-kick from wide on the left that somehow evaded everyone on its way out of play.

And it was Oxford who took the lead on 76 minutes when Bowery collected Wright’s long ball forward and guided a shot into the bottom corner.

Cook made one last throw of the dice by bringing on Conor Chaplin in place of McNulty in Pompey’s attack.

But it was McGurk who came closest to grabbing an equaliser, only to guide his header straight into the arms of United keeper Sam Slocombe.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Fulton; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Barton (Close 54), Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (McGurk 63), Bennett; McNulty (Chaplin 82)
Subs not used: Jones, Burgess, Tollitt, Naismith

Oxford (4-4-2): Slocombe; Baldock, Mullins, Wright (c), Skarz; MacDonald (Bowery 69), Lundstram, Sercombe, O’Dowda (Evans 82); Hylton (Hoban 88), Roofe
Goals: Bowery 76
Booked: Mullins
Subs not used: Buchel, Long, Dunkley, Ruffels

Referee: Neil Swarbrick

Attendance: 17,840 (2,047 away fans)

Portsmouth FC