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 072016
 

My mate Steve gave me his picture disk copy of Are ‘Friends’ Electric by Tubeway Army for my 50th birthday and followed that up by two more for my 52nd!

The wonderfully 80s sales gimmicks of picture disks are a thing of the past and gone with vinyl, which means there are a lot on eBay at cheap prices to add to the collection, and I also found a few of my own after digging deep in the attic.

Three more spaces to fill!

 

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 262016
 

Singer-songwriter Colin Vearncombe, who performed under the name Black, has died at the age of 53, two weeks after being injured in a car crash.

The Liverpool singer, whose 1987 single Wonderful Life was a top 10 hit around the world, suffered head injuries in the crash in Ireland on 10 January, and was placed in an induced coma.

He died on Tuesday surrounded by his family in hospital, his publicist said.

His wife Camilla said she was “deeply grateful” to staff who cared for him.
The father-of-three, who was in intensive care at Cork University Hospital, “died peacefully” with his family at his side “who were singing him on his way”, a statement said.
“Colin received the best possible care from the expert and highly professional staff there and we are deeply grateful for everything they did,” his wife and three sons said in a statement.

Fellow Liverpool musician Pete Wylie of 80s band The Mighty Wah! paid tribute to his friend on Twitter, saying the news was “just so very sad”.
“I want to send all the love I can muster to Colin’s parents, brother & partner + to all who loved him, and who he loved too,” he wrote.
“I could still sing the very first song Colin recorded with me in the WAH! studio. I remember it that clearly. And that voice!”

Born in Liverpool in 1962, Vearncombe had his first top 10 hit with the single Sweetest Smile in June 1987 when he was 25 years old.
His second hit song Wonderful Life, which he had previously released but only got to number 72 in the charts, made the top 10 in the UK, Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, the Netherlands and Italy.

However, despite having found fame, Vearncombe later said “the pop star life” was not as he had imagined it.
“I was frustrated by how few of the people in the music world I respected. Maybe I just didn’t go to the right clubs. I’ve never been a great schmoozer or networker and the idea of setting out to meet a certain type of people is anathema to me,” he said.
“It was two years of disappointment – I didn’t have any wild sex, I’m not a druggie, so I was just digging a hole for myself.”

Wonderful Life has since been used in numerous advertisements and films, and has been covered by artists including Tina Cousins and Katie Melua.
The album of the same name sold more than 1.5 million copies and peaked at number three.

Although he is best known for Wonderful Life and another 1980s single Sweetest Smile, Vearncombe released 15 albums under his own name.
Last year, he returned to his original stage name for a crowd-funded album, Blind Faith, which received positive reviews.
He has also published poetry and staged exhibitions of his paintings in south-west Ireland, where he lived in later life.
Hundreds of fans wrote messages of support on the musician’s Facebook page following the crash.
His publicist said there would be a private funeral, as well as a memorial service for him in Liverpool “as we know there are many, many people who will want to celebrate Colin’s life and work”.