Pompey Defeat Nine-Man Mansfield

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 13 November 2016

Pompey won their first league match at Fratton Park since late September after beating the nine men of Mansfield 4-0 yesterday.

The scoreline is certainly flattering from a Portsmouth perspective due to late goals adding the gloss to the scoreline against the opposition that were two men down. However, it will be the atmosphere in the ground that will certainly be talked about for a long time.

The afternoon's proceedings had begun well enough as Kyle Bennett was brought down in the box by Matt Green's late challenge following a short corner routine. Referee Roger East wasted no time in pointing to the spot as it was a clear penalty.

Gary Roberts blasted the resulting spot kick down the middle of the goal, a tactic which League Two goalkeepers probably should have predicted by now, but nonetheless it was an early goal the team needed especially as Mansfield looked dangerous going forward themselves.

Green should have equalised after taking advantage of a miscommunication between Christian Burgess and David Forde. Neither player took responsibility for the ball and the Stags striker stole it only to fire it into the side netting.

James Baxendale hit the woodwork with a header soon after just to highlight how vulnerable the Pompey defence can be from simple crosses. Carl Baker then struck the post himself with a trademark shot from an angle having cut inside the full back as the first half drew to a close.

All the drama came in the second half as Scott Shearer had to tip over Bennett's dipping effort right from the restart and Kyle Howkins received his first booking of the match for a cynical foul on Conor Chaplin.

Chaplin then missed a sitter by his standards after shooting wide from close range having been put through by Michael Doyle but an even bigger event happened minutes later as Howkins made another late challenge, this time on Bennett, and received his marching orders for a second bookable offence.

Roberts then missed Pompey's second glorious chance of the half as, like Chaplin, he failed to hit the target from a few yards out and fans were beginning to worry that the ten men of Mansfield may sneak an equaliser to punish those missed opportunities.

Those fears were allayed a little when substitute Alex Iacovetti received a straight red card for a lunge on Doyle with his studs up, so he could have no complaints about his dismissal.

Against nine men the victory should have been secure but Pompey appeared to play a tentative possession game in the latter stages which saw some supporters boo their own players despite being in the lead.

That patient play paid dividends soon after despite the boos as Noel Hunt converted Kal Naismith's cross to confirm the win as some fans sang "are you all happy now?" to the boo brigade in the Fratton End.

Baker then ensured the win was an emphatic one with two excellent stirkes into the bottom corner late into the game as the Stags' defence finally succumbed to having to chase the ball for long periods of time before the final whistle put them out of their misery.

The major talking point of the match will undoubtedly be the booing from some Pompey fans despite winning 1-0, albeit against nine men.

My opinion is that the booing was utterly ridiculous and some fans need to drop this entitled attitude that has made its way into the thinking of the modern football fan.

Yes, it was frustrating that Pompey didn't attack as often as they did and there would have been chaos had Mansfield pinched an equaliser but that never looked likely as they had just a single meaningful attempt at Forde's goal in the second half because they barely had the ball once reduced to nine men.

The boos caused the divide between the fans and the players to widen and Naismith's gesture once the second goal was scored gives good insight as to how he, and undoutbedly other players, felt about being jeered despite winning and being in virtual total control of the match.

These boo-boys would do well to get a sense of perspective. Pompey had lost their last three meaningful games at home so they were understandably cautious in a game where they didn't have to commit men forward, especially with the defence vulnerable to long balls on the counter-attack.

In wider context, it was only last season that this fixture ended goalless after one of the dullest games of all time and this time two years ago Pompey were getting dumped out of the FA Cup by Aldershot.

For all of his faults, Paul Cook has unquestionably made supporting Portsmouth easier and his team have a good chance of getting out of this division. In the meantime, those that felt it was necessary to boo need to be reminded that Pompey are a League Two team that is full of League Two players. Los Golacticos, we ain't.

As for the performance, the job was done (eventually) and despite a few hiccups at the back in the first half, the defence looked solid enough although they owe much of that solidarity to Michael Doyle and Danny Rose in front of them who were excellent in orchestrating the midfield.

Roberts and Chaplin weren't quite on top of their game which is a shame as if either of them had buried their easy chances in the second half then there would be no talk about entitled Pompey fans booing a team defending a slender lead, no matter how many players the opposition had.

Still, it's difficult to get too carried away with a flattering 4-0 win against nine men but the result meant that Pompey have leapt Luton on goal difference after they beat Accrington 1-0.

They have kept pace with Doncaster and Plymouth who won at Exeter and Crewe respectively but gained three points on Carlisle who finally tasted defeat at the hands of Newport yesterday. The gap between Pompey and the Cumbrians in second place is now four points.

Next up is a trip to struggling Cheltenham and going by the behaviour of a group of so-called Pompey fans, only a 5-0 win will do.

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 6 - Early mistake aside, didn't have a great deal to do.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Steady as usual.

Christian Burgess: 7 - Won the majority of the aerial balls crossed into the box.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Did a dependable job.

Enda Stevens: 6 - Solid enough.

Michael Doyle: 8 - Showed what the team were missing last week.

Danny Rose: 7 - Always busy.

Gary Roberts: 7 - Scored but showing was a mixed bag otherwise.

Carl Baker: 8 - Always a threat before he bagged a late brace.

Kyle Bennett: 7 - Won the penalty and pace caused Howkins to be sent off. An influential presence.

Conor Chaplin: 6 - Should have scored.

Substitutions

Liam O'Brien

Jack Whatmough

Ben Close

Kal Naismith (Bennett 79): N/A - Too pedestrian at times but still got an assist for Hunt.

Milan Lalkovic

Noel Hunt (Roberts 79): N/A - Poached his first goal for the club.

Michael Smith (Chaplin 86): N/A - Made a hash of one chance late on.

Portsmouth Match Reports

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