Pompey Continue Winning Ways

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 23 April 2017

Pompey's chances of winning League Two remain alive following a 2-1 win over Cambridge United at Fratton Park.

There was no promotion hangover as the home side peppered Will Norris's goal early on with shots being blocked and being saved before the deadlock was finally broken. Enda Stevens squared the ball to an unmarked Carl Baker in the box and he slotted it home to give Paul Cook's men a deserved lead.

That goal woke Cambridge up and they could easily have had an equaliser, only for Jack Whatmough to clear the ball off the line and Liam O'Neil failing to hit the target from the resulting corner when it looked easier to score.

Nicke Kabamba, making his full debut, could have doubled Pompey's lead just before the break following an excellent flowing move but Baker's cross to the far post was slightly too high for him.

The former Hampton & Richmond striker then wasted another excellent chance to score when Norris fumbled Kyle Bennett's shot in front of him but he unfortunately slipped at the crucial moment.

But the second goal was coming and it arrived when Stanley Aborah, also making his full debut, was fouled outside the box and Kal Naismith stepped up to curl in the free kick and register his 13th goal of the season.

The game lulled after that although Pompey were continuing to press. However, the last ten minutes of the match were a nervy affair after the U's pulled one back.

The ever picky Gavin Ward awarded the visitors a free kick in dangerous territory and Luke Berry produced an admittedly sublime free kick into the top corner, giving David Forde no chance of saving it.

The party atmosphere hushed for a while as Cambridge pushed for an equaliser they so desperately needed, Their big chance came in stoppage time when Berry again stepped up to take a free kick, but this time Forde was able to claw it away and the home fans once again turned the volume up as they celebrated Pompey's 24th win of the season.

It was a fairly entertaining game that probably should have been won by a larger margin. Kabamba showed that he is still raw and wasn't really in the game that much, but he'll need some time and may well start at Mansfield on Saturday.

Aborah, on the other hand, had a decent debut in a holding midfield role alongside Doyle. He looked comfortable on the ball and rarely gave it away but we'll need to see more of him and his trademark attacking qualities to know if he deserves to stay on.

As for the rest of the players, the attacking midfield trio delivered once again, Stevens was excellent at both ends of the pitch and Whatmough again filled in at centre back rather well, this time at the expense of Christian Burgess. It's difficult to pick holes in the performance apart from to point out the pace of the game slowed down once the substitutes were brought on in the second half.

The victory keeps Pompey's hopes of the League Two title alive as Doncaster were beaten at Wycombe. Plymouth were also held by Colchester so the gaps to those sides are four and two points respectively, and the Blues will also have goal difference on their side if it comes down to that.

Still, Mansfield have to be beaten next weekend for any realistic hope of finishing higher than third to remain. Given the excellent form of this Portsmouth team, would you back against them doing it?

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 8 - Made a couple of key punches and takes in the box when under pressure, not to mention that save at the end.

Gareth Evans: 7 - Did another solid job.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Continues to impress.

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Seems to have upped his game since return from injury.

Enda Stevens: 8 - Another quality display.

Michael Doyle: 7 - Got stuck in as you'd expect.

Stanley Aborah: 7 - Calm and comfortable on the ball.

Kal Naismith: 8 - Lethal once again.

Carl Baker: 8 - Best performance in a while.

Kyle Bennett: 7 - Looked threatening.

Nicke Kabamba: 5 - Needs some time to settle in.

Substitutes

Liam O'Brien

Drew Talbot

Tom Davies

Danny Rose

Gary Roberts (Bennett 72): N/A - Got involved in some late attacks.

Jamal Lowe (Baker 67): 6 - Never looked like repeating last Monday's heroics.

Conor Chaplin (Kabamba 63): 6 - Did OK but hasn't looked at his best for a while now.

Portsmouth Match Reports

Sky Bet League One Sat 18th November 15:00

Portsmouth 1 - 0 Southend United

Last game - Match Centre


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