Chaplin Double Downs Sorry Orient

Last updated : 15 January 2017 By Jim Bonner

Two goals from Conor Chaplin were enough to complete a league double over struggling Leyton Orient and close the gap on the automatic promotion places to just two points.

Paul Cook said the fans would be happy with his team selection and he was half-correct as he brought back Chaplin into the first team to play alongside Michael Smith in a 4-4-2 formation.

What resulted was a display of total dominance from the home side in the first half. Orient weren't intent on attacking and that allowed Pompey to pin them in their own half with Kal Naismith involved in most of the attacks.

The best chance of the match came on 22 minutes when Enda Stevens fooled Sammy Moore into tripping him up inside the box to give away a penalty. Chaplin took it but his effort was a comfortable height for Alex Cisak who clawed the ball away.

That's three spot kicks in a row that have been wasted, with five in total so far this season. Next time an opposition player fouls one of Pompey's in the box, perhaps the referee should award a corner to them instead? They seem to have a better record scoring from those set-pieces recently and that is saying a lot given this club's recent history of lack of goals from corners!

As for Chaplin, he certainly didn't let that penalty save play on his mind as he gave his team the lead just a minute later as he turned in Carl Baker's cross at the far post despite Orient's cries for the offside flag to be raised.

The home side's dominance continued as Baker fired a shot narrowly wide and Smith's header was cleared off the line by Tom Parkes. It was only a matter of time before another goal was going to be scored.

That proved to be correct but Pompey fans were left stunned as a neat passing move involving the returning Nigel Atangana led to Gavin Massey curling an unstoppable equaliser into the top corner that David Forde had no chance of saving. It's doubtful that a better goal will be scored by a visiting team at Fratton Park this season.

Some last-ditch defending from Orient prevented Pompey from re-taking the lead before the break as the home fans wondered how on earth their team was drawing at half-time.

Thankfully, there wasn't a long wait before Pompey's second goal was scored. Jamal Lowe replaced the injured Gareth Evans for the second half and he was involved in the attack that led to an unmarked Chaplin heading in Baker's cross at the near post.

The second half wasn't quite as fluid as the first but Paul Cook's men were in no real danger of conceding a second goal. In fact, Orient's best chance of an equaliser was Pompey's own doing as a miscommunication between Forde and Burgess meant the latter had to head the ball out for a corner to prevent an own goal.

Smith should've put the result out of doubt but woefully missed the target when Chapln put the ball on a plate for him but it didn't matter as the Blues comfortably saw out the rest of the game to earn an important three points in the promotion race.

The margin of victory suggests a close game but in honesty Orient were one of the worst teams to come to Fratton Park this season. Their wondergoal was their only meaningful attack all match and had Pompey failed to win, there would have been serious questions asked of Paul Cook.

However, the manager deserves credit for the way his team played. He isn't the greatest fan of the 4-4-2 formation but it worked well yesterday. It was good to see Baker back to something like his best whilst Naismith continues to impress on the other flank.

It's difficult to judge Lowe on his first 45 minutes as he understandably didn't see much of the ball once Portsmouth took the lead. With Baker playing behind him at right back, it was always wise to keep the ball away from that side of the pitch just in case Orient sprang a quick counter-attack on their left-hand side.

The only real negative to come from the performance was Smith's contribution to the match. Whilst the so-called Pompey "fans" that are giving him abuse on social media are absolute cretins, he simply cannot justify his place in the team at present.

Still, this isn't a weekend for Pompey supporters to be complaining. Carlisle's 1-1 draw with Morecambe means that the Blues are now within striking distance of the top three. Wycombe failing to beat Yeovil also gives Paul Cook's men some breathing space in fourth place.

Destiny is now in Pompey's own hands. If they win their remaining twenty games and promotion is a certainty!

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 6 - Little todo although probably shoulders the majority of the blame for the miscommunication.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Did a solid job albeit against a team with little attacking intent.

Christian Burgess: 7 - Never under too much pressure.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Dealt with McCallum easily.

Enda Stevens: 7 - Showed how good he can be going forward.

Carl Baker: 7 - Two more assists and thankfully didn't have much defending to do in the second half.

Michael Doyle: 7 - Won the midfield battle.

Danny Rose: 7 - Typical dependable display.

Kal Naismith: 7 - Always a threat.

Michael Smith: 5 - Lacking confidence.

Conor Chaplin: 7 - Poached two goals despite penalty save.


Liam O'Brien

Tom Davies

Amine Linganzi (Naismith 76): N/A - Shored things up.

Gary Roberts

Kyle Bennett (Chaplin 87): N/A - Barely involved with such little time remaining.

Jamal Lowe (Evans 46): 6 - Solid debut.

Noel Hunt