Pompey Begin 2017 With Key Win

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 03 January 2017

Pompey began the new year with a crucial narrow victory over Luton thanks to Christian Burgess' header in the first half of an eventful match at Fratton Park.

The big talking point from the match came when Cameron McGeehan went down after a 50/50 challenge with Michael Doyle. Some Pompey fans booed the Luton midfielder as he was booked for his protests when down on the floor to literally add insult to injury.

When he finally left the field on a stretcher, some fans continued to jeer him and Hatters manager Nathan Jones was upset by the behaviour of some Portsmouth supporters throughout the incident. McGeehan has since been confirmed to have broken his leg so hopefully he'll recover in good time.

As for the match itself, the visitors struggled to create anything in the first half after understandably being rocked by the injury to their key player. Pompey created the majority of the chances as Carl Baker should have done better with a shot from inside the box.

The goal came from a rare source as Baker's excellent delivery from a free kick on the left was headed in by Burgess to give the hosts the lead. The defender could have had another but instead headed Kal Naismith's corner wide as Pompey ended the first half on top.

The second half also started in Pompey's favour as Gareth Evans' free header from Baker's free kick was straight at Christian Walton when he really should have found the target. Baker himself then stabbed the ball straight at the Luton keeper when Naismith delivered it to him at the far post via a slight deflection.

The Scot then sent in another sweet cross to Michael Smith who couldn't quite get to the ball and that resulted in a Luton counter-attack which ended with Danny Hylton beating Burgess to the ball before lobbing David Forde, only to be denied by the crossbar.

The visitors squandered an even better chance soon after as Hylton got to the by-line and squared the ball for Jonathan Smith who somehow couldn't find the target from close range when it looked easier to score.

The remainder of the game was frustrating to watch as Pompey couldn't keep hold of the ball due to rushed clearances and poor passing. Thankfully, the back four did the basics right and prevented Luton from having too many dangerous attempts at Forde's goal.

Smith should have wrapped the game up late on by either taking a shot first time or by sending an unmarked Naismith through on goal. Instead, he was crowded out and the lay-off to Baker saw the ball end up in the Fratton End.

An even better chance to finish the game was missed in stoppage time after Olly Lee tripped Noel Hunt in the box. Substitute Gary Roberts stepped up to take the penalty and proceeded to better Naismith's effort at Newport by Quashieing the ball over the bar. Thankfully, Pompey held on for a precious three points in the promotion race.

It wasn't a complete performance by any stretch of the imagination but overall, Pompey probably deserved the win for their superiority in the first 50 minutes as well as winning the aerial battle in defence.

If there are any major gripes with this showing it would be Smith's lack of prowess in front of goal as he wasted two excellent opportunities for either himself or a team mate to score. Roberts was also wasteful once he came on and constantly gave the ball away. The less said about his penalty miss, the better.

Today's victory was a huge one due to Carlisle and Plymouth both surprisingly losing their matches to Grimsby and Barnet respectively. This means the gap to third place is now just four points ahead of Thursday's televised trip to new league leaders Doncaster.

That will be an interesting game and another that Pompey can't afford to lose. If they can snatch a win at the Keepmoat Stadium, the race for automatic promotion will be blown wide open.

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 7 - Took difficult crosses with confidence.

Gareth Evans: 7 - Did a dependable job at right back but should have scored.

Christian Burgess: 8 - One almost-costly mistake aside, performance was virtually flawless.

Matt Clarke: 8 - Dominant display.

Enda Stevens: 7 - Consistent as usual.

Michael Doyle: 7 - Protected his back four well.

Danny Rose: 7 - Dependable.

Kyle Bennett: 6 - Drew the foul that led to the goal but average otherwise.

Carl Baker: 6 - Deliveries caused Luton defence problems.

Kal Naismith: 7 - Continues to impress and produced some excellent crosses.

Michael Smith: 4 - Poor and should be replaced for the next match.

Substitutes

Liam O'Brien

Jack Whatmough

Amine Linganzi (Rose 84): N/A - Did his job.

Milan Lalkovic

Gary Roberts (Bennett 68): 4 - Gave the ball away constantly and penalty was poor.

Conor Chaplin

Noel Hunt (Baker 80): N/A - Kept the pressure on when he could.

Portsmouth Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Sat 18th November 15:00

Portsmouth 1 - 0 Southend United

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