Loan : Portsmouth – Southend United
Loan : Portsmouth – Southend United
|Reeco Hackett-Fairchild has joined Southend on loan for the remainder of the 2020/21 season.
The 22-year-old forward spent the first half of the campaign with Bromley in the National League.He netted twice in 12 league and FA Cup appearances, finding the target at Maidenhead and King's Lynn.
Hackett-Fairchild now links up with a Shrimpers side looking to climb off the foot of the fourth tier table.
He joined Pompey 12 months ago and made his debut in an EFL Trophy victory at Walsall the following day.
John Marquis opened the scoring from the penalty spot, while Ronan Curtis added a goal in each half to secure all three points.
It means that next month’s Fratton contest against West Ham’s youngsters will merely decide who claims top spot in Southern Group A.
Kenny Jackett made 10 changes from the side that had beaten Burton in League One at the weekend.
Ryan Williams was the only player to keep his place in the starting line-up, with Rasmus Nicolaisen handed his debut at the heart of a three-man defence.
Alex Bass returned between the sticks, while Ben Close was handed the captain’s armband in Tom Naylor’s absence.
The other men handed a chance to impress were Haji Mnoga, James Bolton, Paul Downing, Cam Pring, Andy Cannon, Curtis and Marquis.
Despite all the alterations, the visitors looked bright from the beginning and created several early opportunities.
Williams dragged a shot narrowly wide from an acute angle, while Nicolaisen could not keep the ball down when he met Pring’s corner.
The former had another chance following a quick Blues break up the pitch, but was this time denied by Shrimpers stopper Mark Oxley.
And Pompey did break the deadlock midway through the first half following a clear foul on Mnoga by Tom Clifford.
Referee Paul Howard pointed straight to the spot and MARQUIS stepped up to calmly send Oxley the wrong way from 12 yards.
Southend had barely threatened, although Timothee Dieng should have done better than send his close-range header straight at Bass.
Matt Rush was then booked for a late challenge on Bass when the two raced to reach a loose ball first.
Oxley came to the rescue once more on 37 minutes, denying Marquis with his legs after Williams had stolen possession and slipped a pass across to the striker.
But he could do nothing to prevent the hosts falling further behind moments later, with a 25-yard CURTIS strike taking a wicked deflection off Richard Taylor to deceive the keeper.
There were more chances before the break, although Mnoga blazed one over the bar, while a rocket from Curtis flew just too high in stoppage-time.
Southend United 0
Pompey began where they had left off following the restart and Curtis hit a dangerous ball across the face of goal.
The visitors were then forced into a change when Lewis Gard went down injured and had to be stretchered from the pitch.
With the Blues coasting, however, the action was undoubtedly less intense and Bass was largely enjoying a watching brief.
There was a dangerous attack launched by Terrell Egbri, only for a perfectly-timed Mnoga challenge to stop him in his path.
Nicolaisen livened things up just past the hour by meeting Cannon’s corner with a firm header, but Oxley made a super stop to deny the Dane a debut goal.
Bass then appeared to tip over a header from Harry Kyprianou, although Howard infuriated the home side by failing to award a corner.
The visitors were still looking more likely to add to the scoring, however, and they duly wrapped things up on 77 minutes.
It was a fine solo effort from CURTIS, who was afforded space to surge forward before depositing a long-range strike into the bottom corner of Oxley’s net.
That was his last piece of meaningful action, as – perhaps with Saturday in mind – he was soon replaced by Callum Johnson.
And the closing stages passed by without much incident, as Pompey’s fine record in the EFL Trophy continued.
Southend (4-4-2): Oxley (c); Hobson, Dieng (K.Coker 46), Taylor, Clifford; Egbri, Gard (O.Coker 52), Phillips, Kyprianou; Acquah (Nathaniel-George 74), Rush
Booked: Rush, Taylor
Sub not used: Seaden
Pompey (3-4-3): Bass; Bolton, Dowing, Nicolaisen; Mnoga, Close (c), Cannon, Pring; Williams (Morris 88), Marquis, Curtis (Johnson 80)
Goals: Marquis 21 (pen), Curtis 40, 77
Subs not used: MacGillivray, Raggett, Jacobs, Harness, Harrison
Referee: Paul Howard
It looked like being a frustrating evening for the hosts against their stubborn opponents until John Maquis opened the scoring on the stroke of half-time.
Ellis Harrison forced home another after the break, although Brandon Goodship’s Shrimpers strike got supporters fretting about more dropped points.
But they need not have worried, as Harrison converted a penalty before Marcus Harness came off the bench to wrap things up.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that drew with Oxford on home soil at the weekend.
One of them was enforced, with an injury to Craig MavGillivray meaning Alex Bass was handed a third league start between the sticks.
The other switch saw Harrison replace Gareth Evans and play up front, with Marquis sitting a bit deeper.
There were plenty of familiar faces in the visitors’ dug-out, as Southend had recently appointed a management team of Sol Campbell, Hermann Hreidarsson and Andy Cole.
Svetoslav Todorov, meanwhile, recently left his role as Shrimpers coach, but was at the game to watch his former clubs in action.
The first half was, for the most part, a frustrating one for the hosts, who dominated possession, but found their disciplined opponents difficult to break down.
Clear-cut chances were very much at a premium, with a few teasing crosses that nobody could get on the end of about as good as it got.
Bass was the busier of the two keepers in the early stages, smothering one effort from Isaac Hutchinson and then making a better save to deny Goodship.
At the other end, Sean Raggett was unable to nod Ronan Curtis’ free-kick on target, while Harrison’s header was blocked by Hutchinson.
Pompey then received a blow when Ross McCrorie pulled up with a hamstring injury and had to be substituted, with Brandon Haunstrup on to replace him.
The hosts were looking more dangerous as the interval approached and Mark Milligan just about got in front of Ryan Williams to turn the ball behind.
Ben Close was then fed by Marquis inside the box and drew a smart stop from Nathan Bishop, with his second attempt deflected behind.
But, with virtually the final kick of the half, the deadlock was broken and the assist was provided by the man who came on.
It was a delightful left-footed cross from wide on the right by Haunstrup and MARQUIS found space to prod past Bishop.
Southend United 0
Harrison should really have doubled the advantage straight after the interval, but could not keep his header down from Curtis’ centre.
But he made up for that moments later by taking a much more difficult chance to provide a bit of breathing space.
An initial cut-back for Williams was headed back to the striker and HARRISON somehow managed to sneak a shot home, via the underside of the bar, from the byline.
Southend were suddenly being run ragged, with Pompey looking dangerous with every attack and almost adding a third goal.
Brown cut the ball back for Tom Naylor outside the box and the skipper’s fierce effort struck the inside of the post before rebounding safe.
Another long-range attempt – this time from Marquis – was then fumbled behind by Bishop, as the hosts continued to dominate.
Curtis had been the provider of plenty of fine crosses and another one on 65 minutes had to be cleared by Timothee Dieng, with Harrison lurking.
And when Lee Brown’s corner was nodded back by Christian Burgess, an inventive over-head effort from Williams flew narrowly over.
Pompey had to be careful not to switch off at the other end, though, as substitute Emile Acquah headed wastefully wide from Hutchinson’s corner.
They did concede soon after, though, with Bass getting his hands to Goodship’s ferocious strike, but unable to keep it out of the net.
Jackett responded with a second substitution of the evening on 73 minutes, as the lively Williams made way for Harness.
He had an early sighter after Elvis Bwomono’s clearance fell into his path, but the winger’s shot flew off target.
The nerves were settled soon after, though, as Raggett tried to reach Curtis’ free-kick and was tugged to the turf by Rob Kiernan.
Referee Lee Swabey pointed straight to the spot and although HARRISON’s penalty caught Bishop’s trailing leg, it was hit with enough power to find the net.
But the scoring was not over and after entering the area from the right, HARNESS lashed home to ensure there would be no comeback.
And Close almost got in on the act just a few moments later, with a shot that was deflected inches past the post.
Harness also drilled narrowly wide in stoppage-time, as the Blues finished a productive game with a flourish.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; McCrorie (Haunstrup 40), Burgess, Raggett, Brown; Naylor (c), Close; Williams (Harness 73), Marquis, Curtis; Harrison
Goals: Marquis 45+2, Harrison 50, 80 (pen), Harness 84
Subs not used: McGee, Downing, Evans, Cannon, Pitman
Southend (3-4-1-2): Bishop; Shaughnessy, Dieng, Lennon (Kiernan 74); Bwomono, Hutchinson, Milligan (c), Ralph; Goodship; Cox (Acquah 61), Hopper (Rush 87)
Goals: Goodship 69
Subs not used: Oxley, Demetriou, Taylor, Ndukwu
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 16,995 (316 away fans)
But the visitors were in no mood to celebrate after throwing away a three-goal advantage at Roots Hall.
Bryn Morris, Ben Close – on his 100th appearance for the club – and Oli Hawkins all found the target as the Blues cruised into a commanding advantage.
Simon Cox reduced the deficit before the break, however, then added a penalty before completing his treble late on.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that drew at Plymouth the previous weekend.
Viv Solomon-Otabor was handed his debut wide on the left, while Hawkins and Anton Walkes both returned to the starting line-up.
That meant a switch to a 4-4-2 system with Hawkins partnering Omar Bogle, as Matt Clarke claimed the captain’s armband.
Gareth Evans and Ronan Curtis both dropped the bench, while Nathan Thompson missed out with a knock.
There was a minute’s applause ahead of kick-off in memory of World Cup-winning goalkeeper Gordon Banks, who passed away earlier in the week.
It was the hosts who had the first effort, but Craig MacGillivray got down to his right to keep out Stephen McLaughlin’s low drive.
Christian Burgess then cleared the danger before Michael Turner could capitalise after Cox’s initial effort had been blocked.
But the Blues soon took control and broke the deadlock on eight minutes, as MORRIS opened his account for the club.
Bogle and Jamal Lowe combined well down the right and when the latter’s cross was pushed out by Nathan Bishop, the midfielder hammered the loose ball into the roof of the net.
They came close to doubling the lead from a corner soon after, with Clarke’s shot blocked and Burgess’ follow-up nervously dealt with by Bishop.
The visitors were well on top, although MacGillivray spilled an effort from Sam Mantom and dived on the loose ball before Michael Kightly could pounce.
And Pompey immediately went up the other end to strengthen their advantage, although the Shrimpers could have dealt with it.
Solomon-Otabor combined well with Lowe, but first Sam Hart and then Mantom made a hash of their clearances and CLOSE sent a neat volley into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.
It looked like they had gone even further ahead when Bogle managed to force the ball over the line, although it was controversially ruled out for offside.
But they did have a third goal on 31 minutes when, at the end of a neat passing move, Morris struck the post.
This time it was Taylor Moore’s chance to decline the opportunity to clear the ball and a grateful HAWKINS slotted home.
Southend looked out of the contest, but gave themselves a lifeline when Cox rose in the box to convert Hart’s delivery.
They almost grabbed another before the break when a corner fell for Turner, who curled his shot just past the post.
Southend United 1
The visitors began the second period brightly and a snap-shot from Bogle was saved by Bishop, while a heavy first touch from Lowe allowed the Southend keeper to claim the ball.
But Burgess then made a key challenge inside the box to stop Kightly collecting MacLaughlin’s pass following a quick break.
Pompey immediately created an opening of their own, but Bishop kept out Bogle’s effort and then beat the striker to the loose ball.
It was not as action-packed since the restart, however, and the chances started to dry up as the half progressed.
McLaughlin did try his luck from outside the box, but the ball struck Clarke to divert it wide of the post.
A couple of corners for the hosts also caused problems, although MacGillivray was on hand to deal with them on each occasion.
Solomon-Otabor had faded slightly following a lively start to the contest and was replaced by Curtis on 71 minutes.
And Jackett soon made a second substitution, with Bogle the man to make way as Evans provided fresh legs to the forward line.
The game seemed to be drifting towards a conclusion, but Southend were not done yet and set up a tense finale by pulling another goal back.
Morris caught Kightly in the box and referee Dean Whitestone pointed to the spot, with Cox stepping up to send MacGillivray the wrong way.
Pompey were not just sitting back, though, and Close had a low effort blocked following some patient build-up play.
But Southend completed a remarkable comeback on 88 minutes, as Cox raced onto Timothee Dieng’s fine pass and neatly tucked away his hat-trick goal.
James Vaughan was brought on as the Blues tried to hit back, but they were unable to find another goal before the final whistle blew.
Southend (4-4-2): Bishop; Bwomono, Turner, Moore, Hart; McLaughlin, Mantom (c) (Hutchinson 73), Dieng, Kightly (Wabo 82); Cox, Humphrys (Klass 25)
Goals: Cox 36, 78 (pen), 87
Booked: Klass, Moore
Subs not used: Smith, Kiernan, Lennon, Kelman
Pompey (4-4-2): MacGillivray; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke (c), Brown; Lowe (Vaughan 88), Morris, Close, Solomon-Otabor (Curtis 71); Hawkins, Bogle (Evans 75)
Goals: Morris 8, Close 20, Hawkins 31
Booked: Walkes, Vaughan
Subs not used: Bass, Casey, Haunstrup, May
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 7,300 (1,239 Pompey fans)
They went ahead through Louis Dennis almost immediately from kick-off and never looked like relinquishing that lead.
Gareth Evans then wrapped things up on the stroke of half-time before a turgid second period that did little to excite the small Essex crowd.
Kenny Jackett made 10 changes from the side that secured a dramatic FA Cup victory at Norwich at the weekend.
Evans – who wore the captain’s armband – was the only man to keep his place, although substitute goalscorer Andre Green also featured.
Dan Smith was handed a debut at right-back, with fellow teenagers Matt Casey and Bradley Lethbridge also given an opportunity to impress.
Christian Burgess, Brandon Haunstrup and David Wheeler added first team experience to a young side, with Dennis, Adam May and Alex Bass making up the starting 11.
The hosts – by contrast – were fielding a much more experienced side and yet found themselves behind with just 93 seconds on the clock.
Wheeler played the ball to Smith on the right and his smart delivery into the box was nodded into the net by DENNIS to open his Blues account.
Pompey looked the more dominant outfit throughout the first half and a free-kick from Evans was unconvincingly punched behind by Ted Smith.
May screwed a shot wide of the post after being teed-up by Lethbridge, who then fired a fierce effort narrowly over the bar.
It looked like the lead would be doubled on 28 minutes when Wheeler raced on to Green’s threaded pass, but the winger slotted inches past the post.
Southend had done little to threaten the visitors’ goal, although a short free-kick routine almost saw them level.
The ball was played to former Fratton triallist Theo Robinson and his low delivery somehow evaded both Harry Bunn and Taylor Moore as they slid in at the far post.
Pompey immediately went up the other end to create an opening of their own, as Burgess met an Evans corner and saw his header cleared from the line by a well-placed Robinson.
But they did score again in stoppage-time when Dennis showed neat footwork to tee-up EVANS, who lashed the ball past a helpless Smith.
Southend Uited 0
Jackett made a change at the start of the second half, with academy midfielder Freddie Read replacing Green.
And Evans almost got the half off to the perfect start, curling a free-kick past Smith’s grasp and just wide of the upright.
Leon Maloney then became the second Blues player to make his debut, with the youth team forward coming on for Lethbridge.
It was still the visitors looking more likely to add to the scoring and May fired over when Casey sent Evans’ free-kick back into the centre.
The traffic was not totally heading in one direction, however, and Burgess had to block a Stephen McLaughlin shot following a spell of Shrimpers pressure.
But, in truth, neither side was doing much to raise the tempo as the minutes ticked down with very little in the way of noteworthy incidents.
Southend did win a series of corners towards the end of the contest, but it was proving to be a comfortable evening for Bass between sticks
A long-range volley from Read was not too far off target, but Pompey had already done comfortably enough to ensure their name would be in Thursday evening’s quarter-final draw.
Southend (4-2-3-1): Smith; Bwomono, White, Moore (Hutchinson 60), Hendrie; Hyam, Yearwood (c); Kightly (Dieng 46), Cox (McLaughlin 46), Bunn; Robinson
Subs not used: Bishop, Turner, Mantom, Klass
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; Smith, Casey, Burgess, Haunstrup; Evans (c), May; Wheeler, Dennis, Green (Read 46); Lethbridge (Maloney 54)
Goals: Dennis 2, Evans 45+1
Subs not used: Durin, Mnoga, Clarke, Hancott, Lowe
Referee: Craig Hicks
Attendance: 1,649 (189 Pompey fans)
Michael Turner gave them a helping hand with an early own-goal, while Jamal Lowe wrapped things up before the break with a header.
There were chances to extend the lead even further, but the Blues could still be pretty content with their afternoon’s work.
Kenny Jackett made one change from the side that progressed in the FA Cup at Rochdale the previous week.
Tom Naylor had recovered from a minor groin problem and replaced Ben Close in the centre of midfield.
Harry Bunn and Simon Cox both had half-chances for the visitors in the opening stages, but after that Pompey were in almost total control throughout the first half.
The conditions were certainly making life difficult, with strong winds swirling rain around the ground.
It did not seem to affect the Blues that much, though, and after playing a neat one-two with Oli Hawkins, Ronan Curtis saw his shot ricochet off Taylor Moore and into the arms of Mark Oxley.
They did break the deadlock on 11 minutes, although received a helping hand, with TURNER inadvertently turning Curtis’ delivery into his own net.
Matt Clarke perhaps should have doubled the lead after being found in space by Curtis, but nodded over the bar.
Hawkins also went close to scoring when he met Clarke’s lofted pass and guided a header inches past the post.
Instead it was LOWE who gave the hosts a cushion, leaping to connect with yet another Curtis cross and sending the ball into the net off the post.
There were cries for a penalty just before the break when Lowe’s pass struck Luke Hyam on the arm, but referee Lee Collins decided it was not enough to warrant pointing to the spot.
Southend United 0
Pompey continued to look comfortable following the restart, although there was, unsurprisingly, not so much urgency in their attacking play.
Curtis did find space to burst through the centre and his thunderous strike had to be beaten away by Oxley.
The Shrimpers enjoyed a spell of possession as the second half progressed, but the home defence were making sure that Craig MacGillivray was untested.
A second penalty request was then turned down just before the hour mark, with Nathan Thompson getting eased off the ball after collecting a threaded Naylor pass.
It was proving to be pretty tame fare as Pompey continued to just ease their way through the contest.
Even when MacGillivray failed to hold on to a corner, he did enough to get the ball clear enough for it to be hacked to safety.
Southend finally went close to scoring on 70 minutes, but Stephen McLaughlin’s effort was deflected past the post.
Close was brought on for the Blues and almost scored with his first touch, although was unable to divert Lowe’s centre on target.
And Ben Thompson then saw his free-kick parried clear by Oxley, with Clarke unable to convert the loose ball after taking a heavy first touch.
It was still the hosts on top as the seconds ticked down and the final whistle was met by a roar of approval from the stands.
Pompey (4-1-4-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor; Lowe, B.Thompson (Pitman 89), Evans (c) (Close 73), Curtis; Hawkins
Goals: Turner 11 (og), Lowe 29
Subs not used: McGee, Walkes, Burgess, Dennis, Green
Southend (4-2-3-1): Oxley; Moore, White, Turner (Hendrie 46), Bwomono; Mantom (c) (Yearwood 71), Hyam McLaughlin, Dieng, Bunn (Robinson 64); Cox
Booked: Hyam, Moore, White
Subs not used: Bishop, Hutchinson, Kightly, McCoulsky
Referee: Lee Collins
Attendance: 18,062 (726 away fans)
Matt Clarke’s own-goal and a Jason Demetriou strike saw the hosts roar into an early lead at Roots Hall.
Gareth Evans reduced the deficit before the break, only to pick up a knock and have to be withdrawn.
Hopes of a comeback were then dashed in the second half, as Nathan Thompson was sent off before Brett Pitman also limped down the tunnel and Demetriou added a third for the Shrimpers.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that were narrowly beaten by Blackburn on home soil earlier in the week.
And it looked to be a good decision as the visitors came flying out of the traps in the warm Essex sunshine.
They should have broken the deadlock when Evans fed Conor Chaplin in the box, but the striker could only fire narrowly past the post.
Instead it was Southend who took the lead against the run of play – and thanks to a large slice of fortune – on six minutes.
Anton Walkes was caught in possession by Shayon Harrison and when Clarke tried to nick the ball from him, he could only succeed in burying the ball into the net.
That saw the confidence levels switch, with Southend unsurprisingly lifted and the Blues looking stunned.
The hosts soon capitalised on that by doubling their advantage, as Demetriou collected a pass from Stephen McLaughlin and lashed the ball home.
They almost added a third goal moments later, but Dru Yearwood’s drive flew inches wide of Luke McGee’s post.
It failed to dampen the spirits of the travelling fans packed into the North Stand, who kept backing their side.
But they were not given much reward, as Pompey struggled to find any kind of fluency going forward.
They managed to reduce the deficit on 36 minutes, however, thanks to good work from Jamal Lowe on the right.
He sent in a teasing cross and Pitman was able to turn it back into the centre, where EVANS was waiting to bundle the ball over the line.
Unfortunately, the winger got injured in the process of scoring and limped off to be replaced by Connor Ronan.
There might have been a leveller in stoppage-time, but Pitman could not quite get on the end of another dangerous delivery from Lowe.
It was Southend who had the final say of the first half, though, and Freddie Lapado should have done better than divert a free header straight at McGee.
Southend United 2
Chaplin had a speculative strike that only narrowly missed the target just after the action got back underway.
A Southend break then looked concerning for the Blues, only for McLaughlin to over-hit a pass and the danger to subside.
Lowe was looking lively at the other end of the pitch, but was unable to find the net from an acute angle after leaving his marker on the turf.
It was the visitors now looking the more ambitious side, although they were struggling to test Mark Oxley in the Shrimpers goal.
But Pompey’s task was made much tougher when Thompson caught Ben Coker with a late challenge on 64 minutes and was shown a straight red card by referee Lee Probert.
It almost – and really should have – got worse for them, as Harrison glanced Michael Timlin’s cross wide from a few yards out.
More bad news was just around the corner, though, with Pitman limping off to be replaced by Oli Hawkins.
Southend came close to making their numerical advantage count when McGee failed to claim McLaughlin’s cross.
But the keeper redeemed himself with a superb save using his legs from Simon Cox’s ferocious follow-up.
Lowe was looking the biggest threat for the Blues and after twisting his way into space on the right, the winger’s cross somehow evaded everyone as it flew out of play.
Southend wrapped up the points on 84 minutes, however, as Demetriou collected a pass from Yearwood and rolled the ball home.
Southend (4-4-2): Oxley; Demetriou (Bwomono 90+4), Turner, Ferdinand, Coker (c); McLaughlin, Yearwood, Timlin, Harrison; Cox (Wright 87), Ladapo (Fortune 73)
Goals: Clarke 6 (og), Demetriou 12, 84
Subs not used: Bishop, Kyprianou, McGlashan, Robinson
Pompey (4-4-2): McGee; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue; Evans (Ronan 38), Close, Thompson, Lowe; Chaplin, Pitman (c) (Hawkins 69)
Goals: Evans 36
Sent off: Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Deslandes, Haunstrup, May, Naismith
Referee: Lee Probert
Attendance: 9,397 (1,920 Pompey fans)
Both sides created decent openings in a stop-start first half and Nile Ranger blazed a controversial penalty high over the bar.
Pitman was not so profligate, however, and his effort ensured the Blues claimed a second successive League One victory.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that dramatically won at Blackpool the previous week.
That meant Oliver Hawkins continued to be used as a makeshift centre-back, with Matt Clarke playing on the left.
Nathan Thompson and former Shrimpers midfielder Stuart O’Keefe both had to be content with a place on the bench after returning from suspension.
With it being Pompey’s closest home match to Armistice Day, Normandy veteran John Jenkins MBE read the Ode of Remembrance before kick-off.
A bugler then played the Last Post before everyone inside Fratton Park observed a minute of silence.
The Blues came flying out of the traps and almost broke the deadlock inside the opening five minutes.
Clarke sent a superb cross into the box from wide on the left, but Pitman could not quite steer the ball on target from close range.
Anton Ferdinand then had to hack clear when a deep Ben Close free-kick was headed into the mixer by Christian Burgess.
The hosts were looking dangerous going forward and John White was forced to head behind at the far post when Jamal Lowe centred.
But Southend settled and enjoyed their own spell of pressure midway through the first half, with Luke McGee diving to keep out a snap-shot from former Pompey trialist Theo Robinson.
Kal Naismith then inadvertently diverted the resulting corner into Ranger’s path, although the striker could only fire wide.
It was a contest that offered flurries of excitement in the middle of long spells when the action lulled.
Kyle Bennett almost bagged a rare headed goal when he managed to rise highest in the box to meet Lowe’s delivery, only for Michael Turner to clear off the line.
Shrimpers keeper Mark Oxley was then forced to get down quickly in order to keep out a fierce drive from Close.
There were more half chances at both ends of the pitch before the game controversially exploded into life just before the break.
First Danny Rose and then Clarke bravely threw themselves into the path of shots to protect McGee’s goal.
But the linesman was waving his flag furiously on the sidelines and told referee Carl Boyeson that a hand had been used by Clarke.
The hosts were furious with the decision and Burgess led the protests – backed, of course, by the Fratton faithful.
But it mattered not, as the wasteful Ranger stepped up to take the penalty and blasted it high over the bar.
Southend United 0
Bennett did not emerge from the tunnel at the start of the second half, with Matty Kennedy brought on to replace him.
And it was the newcomer who provided the assist as Pompey broke the deadlock on 54 minutes.
He used his right foot to deliver a pin-point cross from wide on the left and PITMAN rose to expertly guide the ball into the net.
Fratton Park was then united in a minute of applause just before the hour mark to honour Blues fan Gary Martin, who recently passed away at the age of 58.
Pitman’s 12th goal of the season had been the only real moment of action in an otherwise slow start to the second half.
But a quiet spell ended when Cox’s shot was blocked by a well-placed Hawkins, with Gareth Evans getting the ball to safety.
Pompey were still looking a threat at other end, although Kennedy’s shot was not powerful enough to trouble Oxley.
Lowe then played a poor pass behind Pitman after being picked out on the right by Naismith’s threaded pass.
Southend tried their best to find an equaliser as they brought more men forward in the closing stages, but the Blues comfortably held on for victory.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Evans, Hawkins, Burgess, Clarke; Close, Rose; Lowe (Thompson 87), Bennett (Kennedy 46), Naismith; Pitman (c)
Goals: Pitman 54
Subs not used: Bass, Donohue, O’Keefe, Chaplin, Main
Southend (4-1-2-1-2): Oxley; White (McGlashan 82), Turner, Ferdinand (c), Timlin; Leonard; Wright, Kightly; Cox; Robinson (Fortune 77), Ranger (McLaughlin 64)
Subs not used: Bishop, Hendrie, Bwomono, Yearwood
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 18,431 (1,422 away fans)
|Pompey have completed the signing of striker Noel Hunt on a one-year deal.
The 33-year-old has already featured for the Blues in pre-season and will wear the number 20 shirt.
Hunt started his career at Shamrock Rovers in his homeland before spells with Scottish sides Dunfermline and Dundee United.
He is perhaps best known for his time with Reading, however, where he scored 39 goals in 162 appearances and won promotion to the Premier League.
Hunt moved on to feature for Leeds and Ipswich, spending last season with Southend before departing in May.