Jan 202016
 

Nigel Atangana has joined Leyton Orient for an undisclosed fee.

Orient, Crawley and Ebbsfleet were among a number of clubs trailing the out-of-favour midfielder.

But Atangana yesterday opted for the League Two side following the agreement of a transfer fee with Pompey.

The 26-year-old had already been told by Paul Cook there will be no new deal when his existing contract expires at the season’s end – now he has bid farewell to Fratton Park.

The Frenchman’s last appearance was as a substitute at Carlisle in November and since has seen Danny Hollands, Ben Close and Adam Barton preferred as one of the two holding midfielders.

With Paul Cook keen to reduce his sizeable squad this month, Atangana had been a prime candidate to depart, alongside Matt Tubbs.

A broken leg for Hollands at Ipswich earlier this month potentially opened the door for the Frenchman, while Michael Doyle has played through injury.

As a result, Atangana travelled with the team to Accrington Stanley last weekend with the possibility of being named on the bench.

Instead the game was called off because of a frozen pitch.

On Tuesday night against Ipswich, Barton partnered Doyle in midfield, with Close on the bench – yet there was no Atangana once again in the squad, albeit with his Orient move imminent.

It means he was named only once in Pompey’s last 10 squads, despite being available.

Yet he started the first eight league matches of the Cook era before falling away from the side.

Atangana joined Pompey from the Hawks for an undisclosed fee in the summer of 2014, going on to make 48 appearances and score once.

Portsmouth FC
Jan 192016
 

Portsmouth 2 v 1 Ipswich Town

Pompey set up a fourth round clash with Premier League side Bournemouth in the Emirates FA Cup after beating Ipswich at Fratton Park.

They dominated their higher-ranked opponents from the start and Gary Roberts broke the deadlock from the penalty spot.

Marc McNulty doubled the advantage before the break and arguably should have finished the tie with a hat-trick.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles reduced the deficit with a fine second half strike, although Piotr Malarczyk’s red card dented the Tractor Boys’ hopes of finding an equaliser.

Paul Cook made three changes from the side that drew 2-2 at Portman Road 10 days earlier.

Christian Burgess returned from an ankle injury to take his place in defence, meaning that Adam Barton switched to a more familiar midfield role.

There were also starts for skipper Michael Doyle and Gareth Evans, with Adam McGurk and Ben Close dropping to the bench.

Former Pompey forward Luke Varney once again led the line for Mick McCarthy’s Championship visitors.

The hosts soon took control of the tie and Kyle Bennett had an early opportunity, but could not force the ball home from a tight angle.

There was a rare opportunity at the other end on four minutes when Doyle’s header was intercepted by Brett Pitman, who sent a shot looping onto the roof of the net.

But the Blues were quickly back on the attack and Roberts hit a free-kick into the wall after Malarczyk had been booked for a foul on McNulty.

Josh Emmanuel then did well to get ahead of Evans and stop the winger from converting a dangerous cross from Ben Davies.

It was Evans who started a fine attacking move for Pompey on 30 minutes when he stole possession in the centre of the pitch.

He fed Barton, who in turn found McNulty, but Bartosz Bialkowski raced off his line to deny the striker.

The home support did not have to wait much longer to celebrate an opening goal, however.

Referee Andy Woolmer pointed to the spot when Malarczyk brought down Roberts in the box, although he opted not to show the Polish defender a second yellow card.

ROBERTS picked himself up to take the penalty and although Bialkowski got a hand to it, the keeper could not prevent the ball spinning into the net.

And the Fratton faithful were in dreamland a few minutes later, when the dominant Blues doubled their advantage.

Evans stood up a fine cross from wide on the right and McNULTY rose to head the ball home at the far post.

Half Time: Pompey 2 Ipswich 0

It was probably to be expected that the visitors would come out with renewed vigour after the interval.

But instead Pompey continued to play with confidence and they should have gone further ahead on 50 minutes.

Evans sent McNulty through on goal, but Bialkowski again came to Ipswich’s rescue with a fine save, while the loose ball was hooked over the line.

The Blues kept pushing forward and had another opportunity when Bennett was brought down by Josh Emmanuel just outside the box.

Roberts laid the ball off for the hovering Doyle, who hit a ferocious effort that fizzed narrowly past the post.

Pompey were also looking composed at the other end of the pitch and when Tommy Oar delivered a dangerous cross, Adam Webster calmly chested it down for Brian Murphy to collect.

But, out of nowhere, the Tractor Boys suddenly found themselves back in the tie on the hour mark.

It was a stunning 20-yard strike from on-loan Arsenal winger Maitland-Niles that flew into the top corner leaving Murphy with no chance.

Pompey immediately tried to restore their two-goal lead and Bennett was inches away from connecting with McNulty’s ball.

The chances were starting to fade as the half progressed, although Ipswich had an opening when Varney brought down a long goal-kick, only for Pitman to blaze over.

Their hopes of forcing extra-time received a blow on 77 minutes when Malarczyk brought down Roberts and was sent off for a second bookable offence.

And Pompey comfortably saw out the closing stages to book a fourth round date with the Cherries at the end of the month.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Burgess (Close 85), Webster, Stevens; Barton, Doyle (c); Evans, Roberts (Chaplin 82), Bennett; McNulty
Goals: Roberts 32 (pen), McNulty 37
Subs not used: Bass, May, Tollitt, Naismith, McGurk

Ipswich (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Emmanuel, Malarczyk, Digby, Kenlock; Maitland-Niles (Robinson 89), Hyam (c), Tabb (Coke 71), Oar; Varney (Toure 76), Pitman
Goals: Maitland-Niles 60
Sent off: Malarczyk (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: Gerken, Hammond, McDonnell, McLoughlin

Referee: Andy Woolmer

Attendance: 15,179 (796 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 142016
 

James Dunne has left Pompey by mutual consent.

The 26-year-old midfielder – who has spent the past two months on loan at Dagenham – has now signed for Cambridge.

He joined the Blues in the summer of 2014 and scored one goal in 39 appearances during his time at Fratton Park.

But his only game this season was as a late substitute in the Capital One Cup defeat to Reading.

Portsmouth FC
Jan 142016
 

British actor Alan Rickman, whose career ranged from Britain’s Royal Shakespeare Company to the Harry Potter films, has died. He was 69.

His sonorous, languid voice was his calling card – making even throwaway lines of dialogue sound thought-out and authoritative.
It could also be laced with threat, something he employed to great effect in Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and the eight Potter films, where he played scheming potions master Severus Snape.

But he could also take on romantic leads, as in Anthony Minghella’s 1991 drama Truly, Madly, Deeply and later turned his hand to directing.

Born in Acton, west London, Rickman was the second of four children for Margaret Doreen Rose, a housewife, and Bernard Rickman, a painter and decorator.
His father died of lung cancer when he was just eight years old, leaving his mother to seek out work to feed her family.
“She was a tigress,” he later said. “She could do anything. She had various jobs, she got trained in various others, she always reinvented herself.”

The young Rickman showed an interest in the arts from an early age and trained in graphic design and typography at the Royal Academy of Art, writing for the college journal, ARK while he was there.
After graduation he opened a graphic design studio, Graphiti, with several friends – but theatre was always lurking in the background and after three years he quit to become an assistant stage manager at the small Basement Theatre Company.

Then, aged 26, he found himself posting a letter to Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) asking for an audition. To his surprise, he was accepted.
“Fortunately I wasn’t actually the oldest person there,” he later reflected.
Upon graduation, he worked for a number of repertory companies before becoming a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), sharing a house in Stratford with Ruby Wax.
But he left after a season, disillusioned by the company and declaring he wanted to “learn how to talk to other actors on stage rather than bark at them”.

He was soon seduced by the small screen, playing Tybalt in a BBC production of Romeo and Juliet (1978) and taking roles in Smiley’s People and The Barchester Chronicles (both 1982).
A return to the RSC in 1985 was more rewarding as the actor, having shed some of his youthful angst, took the starring role in Christopher Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
He portrayed the drawling sexual connoisseur Vicomte de Valmont, who “slips sly and inscrutable through the action like a cat who knows the way to the cream,” said the Guardian in its original review.
Rickman’s co-star, Lindsay Duncan, was less coy – saying the audiences would leave the theatre wanting to have sex “and preferably with Alan Rickman”.
The show transferred to the West End and then to Broadway, where the actor secured the first of two Tony nominations.

His next role – as sharp-tongued terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard – was to make him internationally famous. As he squared off against a sweaty Bruce Willis, his urbane put-downs and coldly-calculated violence helped raise the film above the standard blockbuster fare.
The actor also provoked a showdown on the set when he refused to throw fellow actress Bonnie Bedelia to the floor, as required by the script.
“My character was very civilised in a strange sort of way and just wouldn’t have behaved like that,” he said. “Nor would Bonnie’s character, a self-possessed career woman, have allowed him to. It was a stereotype – woman as eternal victim – that they hadn’t even thought about.”

The star brought similar thoughtfulness to his later roles, notably Truly, Madly Deeply – in which he played the ghost of Juliet Stevenson’s boyfriend, who comes back to ease her grief.
He continued to essay villains, stealing scenes from Kevin Costner in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, as he screamed “No more merciful beheadings and call off Christmas!”
And his sensitive portrayal of Severus Snape allowed audiences a glimpse of the character’s anguished past long before JK Rowling revealed it in the books.
“He had a real understanding of the character and now looking back, you can see there was always more going on there – a look, an expression, a sentiment – that hint at what is to come,” said the franchise’s producer, David Heyman.
“The shadow that he casts in these films is a huge one and the emotion he conveys is immeasurable.”

But Rickman was no method actor – stepping out of character to playing pranks on his fellow cast members, some of which were caught on camera.
His other film credits included Sweeney Todd, Michael Collins, Dogma and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, in which he brought pathos to the voice of eternally depressed robot Marvin The Paranoid Android. (Rickman’s own distinctive voice, he later revealed, was a speech impediment caused by restricted movement in his jaw – a condition with which he was born.)

He worked often with Emma Thompson, after being cast as Col Brandon in her adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. He went on to play her (unfaithful) husband in Love Actually and later directed her in Scottish drama The Winter Guest, his first film behind the camera.
His second film as director, A Little Chaos, starred another Sense and Sensibility cast member, Kate Winslet, as Sabine, who is chosen to build one of the main gardens at King Louis XIV’s new palace at Versailles.

While promoting the film, Rickman, who also played King Louis, spoke of the difficulty of holding down two jobs on set, quoting his friend Ralph Fiennes, who told him: “The danger of directing yourself is that you are embarrassed about going for another take.”
On stage, he reunited with Liaisons Dangereuses director Howard Davies and co-star Lindsay Duncan in 2002 for Noel Coward’s Private Lives, which transferred to Broadway after a successful run in London, earning Rickman his second Tony nod.
Less successful was his 1996 interpretation of Hamlet, which was panned by critics who called it “a palpable miss”.
Other stage performances included Mark Antony opposite Helen Mirren’s Cleopatra at the Olivier Theatre in London and the title role in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 2010.

He also directed the award-winning 2005 play My Name is Rachel Corrie about the American student who was killed by an Israeli army bulldozer in the Gaza Strip.
The star was notoriously reluctant to discuss the art of acting, saying it was “too, too hard” to explain. But speaking to Bafta last year, he described his profession as “the act of giving yourself over to once upon a time”.
Rickman is survived by his wife Rima Horton, who he met as a teenager in art school and married in New York last year.

He had completed several films before his death, including Eye in the Sky, about drone warfare in Kenya, which is due for release in March and Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.

Jan 102016
 

David Bowie has died of cancer aged 69

David Bowie was one of the most influential musicians of his time, constantly re-inventing his persona and sound, from the 1960s hippy of Space Oddity, through Ziggy Stardust and the Thin White Duke to his later incarnation as a soulful rocker.

Where before, artists and groups either evolved their musical style and appearance or remained unchanging, David Bowie seemed to be in permanent revolution.
He defied any label. Music, fashion, sexuality: all were Bowie’s playthings. He was truly an artistic chameleon.
Bowie was born David Jones in January 1947 but reinvented himself as David Bowie, in 1966, in order to avoid confusion with the Monkees’ Davy Jones.

He went on to study Buddhism and mime, and released his first album, the World of David Bowie, in 1967.
But it was the title track of his second album, Space Oddity, which aroused more than passing interest.
The atmospheric tale of an abandoned astronaut, Major Tom, orbiting the Earth, Space Oddity became a hit in 1969, the year of the first Moon landing.
Initially a hit throughout Europe, it took four years to “break” the United States.

Ziggy Stardust

Bowie followed up this initial success with The Man Who Sold the World, a complex album, whose title track has been covered by artists as diverse as Lulu and Nirvana.
His second album of 1971, Hunky Dory, was arguably Bowie’s first great work. Its 11 songs, including the haunting Life on Mars? and Oh, You Pretty Things, redefined serious rock for the 1970s generation.
And a line from Hunky Dory’s final track, The Bewlay Brothers, seemed to perfectly sum up David Bowie, “chameleon, comedian, Corinthian and caricature”.

The following year saw the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, a superbly-executed concept album which included hits like Starman, Suffragette City and Rock ‘n’ Roll Suicide.
The album’s huge popularity and the accompanying tour, featuring Bowie as the sexually ambiguous Ziggy, brought him worldwide stardom.
By now married to the former Angie Barnett (divorced in 1980) and with a young son, Zowie (now film director Duncan Jones), Bowie was a hedonist of breathtaking scale, living a rock and roll lifestyle fuelled by drink, drugs and vigorous bisexuality.
Having killed off Ziggy, 1973 brought Aladdin Sane, which cemented Bowie’s reputation in the United States.
Songs like Cracked Actor explored the dark, seedy, side of fame, while Jean Genie was an old-fashioned rocker.
As well as writing and performing, Bowie now branched out, producing Lou Reed’s Transformer album and writing and producing Mott the Hoople’s hit single, All the Young Dudes.

Berlin sojourn.

While he was touring with his next album, the apocalyptic Diamond Dogs, David Bowie recorded the Young Americans album in Philadelphia.
This dalliance with “plastic soul” continued on the album Station to Station and brought Bowie hits including Golden Years, Knock on Wood and his first US number one single, Fame, co-written with John Lennon and Carlos Alomar.

But, once more, David Bowie changed direction, moving to Berlin and working on a triptych of albums, Low, Heroes and Lodger.
Produced in collaboration with Brian Eno, these dense works were perhaps the most experimental of Bowie’s career, mixing electronic sounds and avant-garde lyrics to produce a radical, and influential, song cycle.
The late 1970s saw Bowie concentrating on acting, starring in Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth and opposite Marlene Dietrich in the lamentable Just a Gigolo.
The critically acclaimed Lodger album was followed by Scary Monsters, notable for its groundbreaking video accompaniment and the single Ashes to Ashes, which updated the story of Major Tom.

Actor and web pioneer

But 1983 saw a new, driven, David Bowie return to form with the Let’s Dance album.
Hits like China Girl and Modern Love, coupled with the spectacular Serious Moonlight world tour, introduced Bowie to a whole new generation.
And his 1985 duet with Mick Jagger, a cover version of Martha and the Vandellas’ Dancin’ in the Street, was a major factor in the success of the Band Aid project and its accompanying Live Aid concert.

Bowie returned to acting, playing the lead in The Elephant Man on Broadway as well as typically exotic characters in the films Cat People and The Hunger.
The late 1980s were dominated by Bowie’s involvement with his new band, a postmodernist heavy metal outfit, Tin Machine.
This project, which was designed to allow Bowie to re-examine his rock ‘n’ roll roots, produced two albums of questionable quality and was panned by the listening public and critics alike.

As proof of his enduring popularity, in 2000 he was invited to headline the world-famous Glastonbury festival for the second time, nearly three decades after his debut there.
Bowie’s 2002 album Heathen saw a long-awaited return to form for the indefinable master of rock style, and the man who, throughout his long and varied career, influenced everyone from Iggy Pop to Boy George.

In 2006, he made a surprise return to the big screen, playing a fictional version of real-life Serbian-American inventor Nikola Tesla in Christopher Nolan’s illusionist drama The Prestige, for which he adopts a thick Eastern European accent.
After a decade without a studio album he released The Next Day in 2013, surprising fans who thought he had retired. It became his first UK number one for 20 years.
The same month, a retrospective of his career, “David Bowie Is…” opened at the V&A in 2013, becoming the museum’s fastest-selling show, celebrating his legacy as a style icon as well as a musician and performer.

His latest album, the critically acclaimed Blackstar, was released on his 69th birthday, just days before his death.
He is survived by his second wife, Iman Mohamed Abdulmajid, and children Duncan Jones, the acclaimed sci-fi director, and Alexandria Zahra Jones.

Jan 092016
 

Ipswich Town 2 v 2 Portsmouth

Pompey will take their place in the fourth round draw for the Emirates FA Cup following a 2-2 draw at Portman Road.

They were totally on top against their Championship opponents in the opening 45 minutes and carved open a number of chances.

But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock through Tommy Oar early in the second half.

The Blues hit back, though, and Kyle Bennett levelled before substitute Conor Chaplin’s strike looked to have secured a cup upset.

But there was still time for Ryan Fraser to grab a late leveller and ensure that the sides will have to do it all again at Fratton Park.

Paul Cook made four changes from the side that beat Crawley in the league the previous week.

Gary Roberts was handed his first start for more than two months and wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Michael Doyle.

Matt Clarke was unable to feature against his parent club, so Adam Barton was once again used as a makeshift defender.

There were also starts for Adam McGurk and Ben Close, with Caolan Lavery ineligible and Gareth Evans dropping to the bench.

Former Pompey striker Luke Varney started for the hosts, while Roberts and Brian Murphy were both featuring against their former club.

The visitors might play their league football two divisions below the Tractor Boys, but they were certainly not over-award.

It was the Blues who dominated from the start and it took a vital block from Paul Digby to deny Marc McNulty in the opening stages.

McGurk then climbed above his marker to reach Roberts’ cross at the far post, only to see his header deflected wide.

Ipswich were struggling to see much of the ball and their supporters grew increasingly frustrated as the first half progressed.

Roberts should have done better when he connected with Enda Stevens’ cross on 20 minutes, but could only guide the ball over the bar.

The large travelling support were enjoying themselves, chanting ‘ole’ with every completed pass.

One such period of play ended with Barton sending McNulty clear, but Bartosz Bialkowski was quickly down to his right to palm clear the striker’s low drive.

The keeper was called into action again moments later, this time doing well to keep out a Bennett snap-shot from the edge of the box.

Ipswich finally threatened with a counter-attacking move just before the break, but Barton kept his composure to cut out Oar’s through ball.

Half Time: Ipswich 0 Pompey 0

The hosts, unsurprisingly, looked sharper at the start of the second half – no doubt following a few harsh words from Mick McCarthy.

And they forged ahead on 53 minutes when Ben Davies was unable to keep out Oar’s effort on the line after Murphy had done well to keep out an initial shot from Brett Pitman.

If the home support thought that would trigger a landslide, though, they were to be disappointed.

Not even two minutes had passed when Pompey deservedly drew level, as Roberts and McNulty combined to tee-up BENNETT for a cool finish into the bottom corner.

And they almost forged ahead on 65 minutes, with Bialkowski only just keeping out McNulty’s fierce strike at the near post.

The game was certainly an open affair by now, as both sides sought to avoid a replay by finding a second goal.

Cook made his first change on 74 minutes, withdrawing Close and handing Adam May just a third senior appearance.

And a second switch soon followed as the tiring Roberts made way for Chaplin in Pompey’s forward line.

The Blues were then forced into making a final change on 81 minutes when Danny Hollands picked up a knock and was replaced by Brandon Haunstrup.

Ipswich came close to grabbing a late winner moments later, with Fraser only able to find the side netting from a tight angle.

But it was the Blues who were celebrating on 86 minutes when CHAPLIN collected the ball 20 yards out and steered a precise shot right into the bottom corner.

There was still time for the hosts to hit back, though, as Fraser swung a free-kick straight into the net from wide on the left.

Five minutes of stoppage-time meant that both sides still had the chance to increase the scoring, but an exciting game was not able to deliver one last twist.

Ipswich (4-4-2): Bialkowski; Chambers (c), Malarczyk, Digby (Smith 63), Knudsen; Maitland-Niles (Fraser 58), Skuse, Hyam, Oar; Pitman, Varney (Sears 74)
Goals: Oar 53, Fraser 88
Booked: Skuse
Subs not used: Gerken, Bru, Tabb, Kenlock

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Barton, Webster, Stevens; Close (May 74), Hollands (Haunstrup 81); Roberts (c) (Chaplin 78), McNulty, Bennett; McGurk
Goals: Bennett 55, Chaplin 86
Booked: Barton
Subs not used: Bass, Boco, Tollitt, Evans

Referee: David Coote

Attendance: 17,020 (2,494 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Jan 022016
 

Portsmouth 3 v 0 Crawley Town

Pompey got 2016 off to an excellent start with a convincing victory over Crawley at Fratton Park.

A couple of loanees ensured they had a two-goal advantage at the break, with Matt Clarke heading the opener before Marc McNulty doubled the advantage.

The Blues dominated for most of the afternoon and got a deserved third when Gary Roberts found the target following excellent work from fellow substitute Ben Tollitt.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that drew with Luton five days earlier.

Adam Webster returned from suspension to take his place in the centre of defence, with Adam Barton dropping to the bench.

Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause in memory of former Pompey keeper Pavel Srnicek, who sadly passed away before Christmas at the age of just 47.

There were a couple of familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Darryl Flahavan and Sonny Bradley both starting for the Reds.

The hosts made a bright start and Caolan Lavery could not quite guide Ben Davies’ cross on target with a diving header.

Enda Stevens then delivered a dangerous low centre from the left that Bradley was forced to clear behind.

And the Blues broke the deadlock from the resulting corner, with CLARKE rising highest in the box to guide home Davies’ cross on 13 minutes.

McNulty tried to double the advantage moments later, but sent an angled effort whizzing past the post.

Pompey were totally on top and Kyle Bennett saw his strike blocked after meeting Lavery’s cut-back, while Danny Hollands blazed the loose ball over.

Clarke then met another corner from Davies, although this time his radar was off and the ball flew wide.

Lavery thought he should have been awarded a penalty midway through the first half after tangling with Lewis Young, but referee Dean Whitestone was not quite so convinced.

Stevens was providing a real threat down the left and twice saw low crosses somehow evade his team-mates.

But it proved to be third time lucky on 26 minutes when the left-back picked out McNULTY, who took a touch before sliding the ball past Flahavan.

Crawley were struggling to keep the Blues at bay and it took brave blocks from Young and Bradley to keep out goal-bound efforts from McNulty and Bennett respectively.

The visitors finally carved out an opening on 39 minutes, but after beating Clarke, Roarie Deacon hit his shot straight at Brian Murphy.

Bennett then made a vital challenge to dispossess Luke Rooney on the edge of the box, while Simon Walton hit a long-range free-kick safely into Murphy’s arms.

But most of the action was still happening at the other end of the pitch and Flahavan did well to keep out a strike from Bennett that took a heavy deflection off Jon Ashton.

Then, in stoppage-time, an unmarked Gareth Evans somehow failed to connect with Davies’ cross from just a few yards out.

Half Time: Pompey 2 Crawley 0

Pompey picked up where they left off at the start of the second half and Stevens drilled a low shot narrowly wide.

Bennett was next to go close, cutting inside and sending a fierce effort fizzing inches over from the edge of the box.

But the visitors came close to reducing the deficit just past the hour mark, when Davies conceded a free-kick that Gwion Edwards curled against the crossbar.

Crawley were then thankful to Young, who prevented them from falling further behind when he cleared Lavery’s bullet header off the line.

Cook made a double substitution on 67 minutes, with McNulty and Evans making way for Roberts and Tollitt.

Lavery then had a chance to extend the hosts’ advantage when he met a cross from Tollitt, only to send his header sneaking past the far post.

Pompey were not having much to deal with at the other end, although Matt Harrold should at least have found the target when he collected Young’s pass.

And the hosts wrapped up a comfortable victory on 83 minutes after their two substitutes combined to devastating effect.

Tollitt picked the ball up from a Crawley corner and surged almost the full length of the pitch before teeing-up ROBERTS for a cool finish.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans (Tollitt 67), McNulty (Roberts 67), Bennett; Lavery (Chaplin 85)
Goals: Clarke 13, McNulty 26, Roberts 83
Booked: Stevens
Subs not used: Bass, Barton, Atangana, McGurk

Crawley (4-1-4-1): Flahavan; Young, Yorwerth (Ashton 23), Bradley (c), Hancox; Walton; Deacon, Rooney (Tomlin 77), Smith (Emmanuel 46), Edwards; Harrold
Booked: Walton
Subs not used: Preston, Bawling, Jenkins, Fenelon

Referee: Dean Whitestone

Attendance: 16,606 (567 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Dec 292015
 

Former Portsmouth goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek has died following a cardiac arrest.

The 47-year-old had been in an induced coma in the Czech Republic since collapsing while out jogging on December 20.

His agent, Steve Wraith, said in a statement: “It is with deep sadness that I have to announce the passing of former player Pavel Srnicek.”

Srnicek made 150 appearances for Newcastle between 1991 and 1998 and went on to have spells with Sheffield Wednesday, Portsmouth and West Ham before returning to St James’ Park in 2006.

His release the following year brought an end to his playing career but he remained in the game and was working as goalkeeping coach at Sparta Prague when he collapsed.

The statement continued: “Pavel suffered a cardiac arrest before the Christmas period in his home country and had been in an induced coma in hospital with his close family around his bedside.

“Despite the best medical attention the final brain scans on Monday showed irreversible damage and the decision had to be taken to switch off the life support machine. Pav passed away on the afternoon of Tuesday, December 29 2015 with his family by his side.

“Pavel, the goalkeeping coach at Sparta Prague, had recently been on a whistle-stop tour of Tyneside to promote his autobiography, ‘Pavel Is A Geordie’, something that he was very proud of.

“My final conversation with him was about getting the entertainers team back together one more time for charity next year as it will be 20 years since that Newcastle team almost won the Premier League.

“We will make that happen and celebrate this great man’s life together.”

Tributes quickly began to pour in for Srnicek, one of Newcastle’s best loved recent characters.

Alan Shearer wrote on Twitter: “So very, very sad to lose my friend and former teammate @PavelSrnicekUK My thoughts are with his family at this awful time. #NUFC #RIPPavel”

Fellow goalkeeper Peter Schmeichel said: “It is with incredible sadness that I’ve have learned that Pavel Srnicek has died. A gentleman and a great sportsman. RIP my friend”

Newcastle fans sang their support for Srnicek during the Boxing Day clash with Everton at the request of the Czech’s family.

The club announced the news on their Twitter feed, saying: “It is with immense sadness that we confirm the passing of former #NUFC goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek today.

“Our deepest condolences go to Pavel’s family, many friends, former colleagues and supporters at this very difficult time.”

Long-serving former Toon keeper Steve Harper was a team-mate of Srnicek and he wrote: “A truly beautiful soul has left this world far too early!! Thank you so much for everything you did for me Pav.”

Srnicek was born in Ostrava, beginning his senior career with Banik Ostrava, and he was capped 49 times by the Czech Republic.

In a tribute to Srnicek on their website, Sparta Prague said: “We will never forget you, Pavel!”

Portsmouth FC
Dec 282015
 

Portsmouth 0 v 0 Luton Town

Pompey were unable to break down Luton and had to settle for a point in their final game of 2015.

It was the hosts who had the better chances to earn a victory, but they found Hatters keeper Mark Tyler in decent form.

The result ensured that the Blues finished the year just outside of the automatic promotion places in League Two.

Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side beaten at Leyton Orient on Boxing Day.

Adam Webster served a one-match ban following his red card, so midfielder Adam Barton replaced him at centre-back.

Pompey Hall of Fame inductee Andy Awford was in the opposition dug-out and he handed a start to former Fratton loanee Paul Benson.

The hosts started brightly and Ben Davies hit a free-kick that was deflected safely into the arms of Tyler.

Marc McNulty then fired over from an acute angle after collecting a precise pass from Enda Stevens.

The Scottish striker went even closer midway through the first half, but Tyler got down quickly to push the ball clear.

Luton almost capitalised on a defensive mix-up, but Stevens came to the rescue, getting across to clear the danger.

And the left-back immediately created an opening at the other end of the pitch, with McNulty just unable to connect with a low cross as he slid in at the far post.

Kyle Bennett was next to go close when he cut across the edge of the box and struck a fierce effort that Tyler did well to keep out.

The keeper then made an even better stop moments later to prevent McNulty from breaking the deadlock.

There was a comedy moment late in the half when Davies hit a free-kick narrowly past the post.

Plenty of fans thought it had gone in and so did the announcer, who declared a goal, resulting in plenty of laughter around Fratton Park.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Luton 0

It was Luton who came close to scoring early in the second half, but Brian Murphy raced from his line to deny Jack Marriott before pouncing at the feet of Ryan Hall to claim the loose ball.

But the action was soon back down the other end, with Bennett surging forward and seeing his shot deflected wide.

Davies sent a corner in to the near post and Michael Doyle met it with a diving header that flew narrowly over.

The right-back delivered another dangerous corner on 58 minutes, but this time Matt Clarke’s firm header flew safely into Tyler’s arms.

Cook made his first change just past the hour mark, with Gary Roberts replacing Caolan Lavery in Pompey’s attack.

But it was Luton who were next to threaten, although Magnus Okuonghae and Craig Mackail-Smith both wasted good opportunities.

Pompey were soon back on the attack and Tyler did well to deny Evans and Roberts in quick succession, having not spotted the linesman’s raised flag.

Adam McGurk entered the fray on 77 minutes as Cook made his second switch, with McNulty the man to make way.

The chances had dried up, however, and Conor Chaplin came on for the closing stages to try to inject some life back into the Blues.

But it was Clarke who had a great chance to grab the winner in stoppage-time, only for the unmarked defender to head wide from close range.

And the Hatters held firm for the final few minutes to ensure it was honours even on Awford’s return to Fratton Park.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Barton, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty (McGurk 77), Bennett (Chaplin 87); Lavery (Roberts 64)
Booked: Doyle
Subs not used: Bass, Close, Tollitt, Stockley

Luton (4-2-3-1): Tyler; O’Donnell, Cuthbert (c), Okuonghae, Howells; Lawless (Long 78), Smith; McQuoid (McGeehan 63), Marriott (Mackail-Smith 69), Hall; Benson
Booked: Lawless, Okuonghae, O’Donnell
Subs not used: Justham, Wilkinson, Guttridge, McCourt

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 17,668 (1,556 away fans)

Portsmouth FC
Dec 262015
 

Leyton Orient 3 v 2 Portsmouth

Pompey were unable to break into the automatic promotion places after losing at Leyton Orient in a bruising Boxing Day clash.

They took an early lead through Connor Essam’s own-goal, but the tide turned when Adam Webster was sent off and Jay Simpson scored the resulting penalty.

Ollie Palmer then added two more for the hosts, who had skipper Mathieu Baudry dismissed in between.

Gareth Evans reduced the deficit to spark hopes of a comeback, but the Blues were unable to find a late leveller.

Paul Cook stuck with the same side that won at Northampton before Christmas.

Michael Doyle was fit enough to feature after injuring his ankle, while Gary Roberts returned from more than two months on the sidelines to take his place among the substitutes.

The hosts selected former Fratton loanees Alex Cisak and Cole Kpekawa in their line-up, with John Marquis on the bench.

Pompey made a storming start and Caolan Lavery’s persistence almost paid off in the opening seconds as he tried to chase down Cisak’s clearance.

But the Blues did break the deadlock on four minutes when Evans failed to get a decent connection on Kyle Bennett’s cross and the ball ricocheted off Essam and into the net.

They almost doubled their advantage soon after, but Cisak made a fine double save to first keep out Bennett’s fierce drive and then Lavery’s diving header.

Lavery was unable to make contact with the resulting corner and Webster headed wide, as the visitors continued to dominate.

But all their good work was undone midway through the first half when Webster was sent off.

The defender failed to control Danny Hollands’ heavy back-pass and then bundled over Jobi McAnuff inside the box.

Referee Graham Horwood immediately pointed to the spot and brandished a red card, while League Two top scorer Simpson stepped up to convert the penalty.

With no recognised defender on the bench, Adam Barton was brought on to partner Matt Clarke at the back, with Marc McNulty the man to make way.

The dismissal also impacted on Pompey’s ability to play their normal pressing, passing game and they were under the cosh for the rest of the half.

Brian Murphy prevented them from falling immediately behind when he dived to his left to palm away McAnuff’s strike.

Palmer then spun neatly and cut inside from the right before hitting a tame effort straight into the keeper’s arms.

And the Blues also survived late in the half when a Kpekawa free-kick led to the ball pinging around their area.

But they did fall behind deep into stoppage-time, with Palmer finding it far too easy to convert a hopeful cross from Kpekawa.

Half Time: Leyton Orient 2 Pompey 1

Pompey appeared destined for defeat at the break, but there was a spark of hope when Leyton Orient were also reduced to 10 men early in the second half.

Baudry did not react well to a challenge on him by Doyle, lashing out at the Blues skipper and then receiving his marching orders.

The visiting fans were not celebrating for too long, however, as from Sean Clohessy’s free-kick, Palmer arrived at the far post to head into the bottom corner.

Pompey were not too far away from reducing the deficit on 55 minutes, with Barton’s cross agonisingly out of reach for Hollands.

Evans then met Ben Davies’ corner and the ball was heading for the top corner until Cisak got across to pluck it from the air.

The hosts had an opportunity on 66 minutes when Simpson cut inside from the right, but his weak effort was comfortably claimed by Murphy.

And the Blues then went straight up the other end of the pitch to reduce their deficit.

Bennett was the architect, turning Jack Payne and then playing a magnificent pass through to EVANS, who calmly slotted the ball past Cisak.

It almost got even better moments later, as the visitors were denied three times in the space of a few seconds.

First Jean-Yves M’Voto did well to prevent Lavery from getting a shot away and then Enda Stevens flashed a dangerous pass across goal that just evaded Bennett.

Davies picked up the loose ball on the right and hit a powerful angled drive that Cisak managed to push clear.

Cisak was again involved on 72 minutes, doing enough to deny Lavery from close-range before Evans volleyed narrowly over.

The keeper then just about beat Clarke to Davies’ corner as Pompey kept knocking on the door in search of another goal.

Roberts and Conor Chaplin were thrown on for the closing stages as Cook made one last roll of the dice.

But it was the hosts who almost scored late on when Marquis latched onto a poor back-pass from Stevens.

The Orient substitute could only find the post with his first effort, however, while Stevens recovered to clear his follow-up attempt from the line.

Pompey’s left-back then sent in a low cross that was met by Evans, but Cisak made a fine save as the Londoners saw out seven minutes of stoppage-time to claim all three points.

Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Cisak; Baudry (c), M’Voto, Essam, Kpekawa; Clohessy, Pritchard, Payne, McAnuff (Turgott 88); Palmer (Marquis 82), Simpson (Shaw 72)
Goals: Simpson 23 (pen), Palmer 45+1, 52
Sent off: Baudry
Booked: Essam, Palmer, Pritchard, Shaw
Subs not used: Grainger, Dunne, Kashket, Moncur

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands (Roberts 87), Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty (Barton 24), Bennett (Chaplin 87); Lavery
Goals: Essam 4 (og), Evans 66
Sent off: Webster
Booked: Davies
Subs not used: Bass, Close, Tollitt, McGurk

Referee: Graham Horwood

Attendance: 5,848 (1,316 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC
Dec 192015
 
League 2
Northampton Town 1 – 2 Portsmouth

 

Pompey ensured it would be a very Merry Christmas by coming from behind to win at league leaders Northampton.

Conor Chaplin came off the bench to get the crucial late goal and give the 900-plus visiting fans the perfect present.

That came after Gareth Evans had headed home to cancel out Ryan Cresswell’s opener before the break.

Paul Cook made one change from the side that convincingly beat Hartlepool the previous week.

Christian Burgess injured his ankle ligaments in that game, so Matt Clarke replaced him at the heart of defence.

It was the side at the summit who made the brighter start and Clarke did well to clear Joel Byrom’s dangerous ball into the box.

But the visitors soon settled and came close to breaking the deadlock on 10 minutes, with Caolan Lavery’s low cross just out of reach for the onrushing Evans.

And Evans had another decent opportunity moments later, only to swipe at thin air after Marc McNulty had done brilliantly to tee him up.

The Blues received a let-off at the other end when Adam Webster’s poor touch sent Marc Richards through on goal, but Brian Murphy came to the defender’s rescue with a vital block.

It was only a brief reprieve, however, as from the resulting corner, Byrom’s cross was firmly headed home at the far post by Cresswell.

That left Pompey shell-shocked for a while, but they soon settled back into their patient passing play.

Lavery headed wide from a Ben Davies cross before McNulty’s low cross had to be cut out by Cresswell.

Then after Adam Smith came racing from his box to beat Lavery to the ball, McNulty was unable to catch the Cobblers keeper out from almost halfway.

But the Blues were level on 32 minutes – and it was the impressive McNulty who created it.

The forward did brilliantly to shake off a couple of challenges and stand up a fine cross that EVANS expertly headed into the top corner.

Northampton came close to extending their advantage soon after when a corner led to an almighty scramble in the box.

Cresswell inadvertently did Pompey’s job for them by clearing a shot off the line and Clarke eventually got the ball to safety.

But it was the visitors who finished the half on the ascendency and Smith did well to parry clear Lavery’s angled drive following good work from Kyle Bennett.

Then, in stoppage-time, Smith was again called into action to stop McNulty from converting Davies’ cross.

Half Time: Northampton 1 Pompey 1

HIGHLIGHTS

Second Half

Pompey tried to continue where they had left off at the start of the second half and were looking to use the strong gusts to their advantage.

There were a couple of half-chances, although Lavery was offside when he tried to collect Bennett’s through ball

Zander Diamond then recovered quickly after his slip had threatened to send the lively McNulty away.

Bennett had two efforts blocked from the edge of the box in quick succession as the Blues continued to push for another goal.

They had another opening just past the hour mark when, with McNulty in an offside position, Lavery chased down his own pass and was only just beaten to the ball by Smith.

The keeper then made sure he got his body behind Evans’ fierce 30-yard drive following a surging run from the Pompey winger.

Northampton need to make a change to halt the one-way traffic and introduced former Blues midfielder Ricky Holmes.

It was the Blues who came close to forging ahead on 70 minutes, though, when after a poor Davies corner was partially cleared, Danny Hollands’ effort was deflected inches past the post.

Smith was still having to be alert between the sticks for the hosts and he was again quickly off his line to deny McNulty following good work from Michael Doyle and Lavery.

Evans was next to go close, but could only fire wide when Bennett’s cross came in at an awkward height.

It was Bennett who made way when Cook decided to make his first change and introduce Ben Tollitt on 76 minutes.

Despite struggling to make much of an attacking impact in the second half, the hosts then almost retook the lead.

Brendan Moloney’s effort was deflected behind and from the resulting corner, Diamond headed over from just a couple of yards out.

The tireless McNulty was then withdrawn for the final 10 minutes, with Adam McGurk given a chance to impress.

It was Northampton who were now looking dangerous, however, and the imposing Cresswell headed a corner against the crossbar.

Cook’s final throw of the dice saw Chaplin come on for Lavery – and it proved to be a masterstroke.

Fellow substitute Tollitt was the creator, bursting down the right and angling in a shot that was too hot for Smith to handle.

The ball fell kindly for CHAPLIN, who had the simple task of sliding in from a couple of yards out, sending the travelling fans wild with delight.

It was not quite game over, though, and Dominic Calvert-Lewin almost got an immediate equaliser with a header that left the crossbar shaking.

But the Blues saw out the final few minutes to leave themselves on the brink of the automatic promotion places.

Northampton (4-2-3-1): Smith; Moloney, Diamond (Hoskins 89), Cresswell, Buchanan; O’Toole, Byrom; D’Ath, Potter (Holmes 65), Adams (Calvert-Lewin 57); Richards (c)
Goals: Cresswell 17
Booked: O’Toole, D’Ath, Cresswell
Subs not used: Clarke, Lelan, McDonald, Taylor

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Murphy; Davies, Webster, Clarke, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c); Evans, McNulty (McGurk 80), Bennett (Tollitt 76); Lavery (Chaplin 85)
Goals: Evans 32, Chaplin 86
Booked: McNulty, McGurk
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Barton, Close

Referee: Fred Graham

Attendance: 5,859 (938 Pompey fans)

Portsmouth FC