Pompey Fight Back To Beat Boro

Joe Devera went from zero to hero as he scored the winning goal in an eventuful match at Fratton Park having gifted the visitors an equaliser.

Andy Awford decided to drop the wing back system in favour of a basic 4-4-2 whilst Miles Storey was recalled to the starting line-up. Both decisions would pay dividends eventually despite the slow start to the match.

There was little action to talk about until Pompey gave Stevenage a soft goal from a corner. The ball was crossed to the far post where Darius Charles was able to head the ball back to Dean Wells who was able to fire past Paul Jones. It was a simple goal to concede and Awford would have been furious with the defending.

Thankfully, Pompey responded to that 23rd minute setback and they began to apply some pressure on Boro. Jed Wallace forced Chris Day into a save before bagging the equaliser soon after with a deflected shot which found the bottom corner of the net.

The hosts were well on top and Craig Westcarr missed a good chance to give Pompey the lead going into the break but the fans were pleased with the response after a sluggish start.

The momentum continued in the second half with Pompey well on top early on but attacks were being stopped by some last-ditch defending and the offside flag.

Stevenage then almost re-took the lead against the run of play when Chris Whelpdale unleashed a strike from distance which cannoned off the crossbar and the post before thankfully rolling the right side of the goal line from a Portsmouth perspective.

Pompey then scored a good second goal as Danny Hollands' pass found Storey who took the ball down well and blasted the ball into the top corner of the goal, giving Day no chance.

And there seemed to be no danger of an equaliser from Stevenage until Devera produced a weak header back to Jones and a grateful Whelpdale stole the ball, rounded the Pompey keeper and slotted into an empty net.

It was harsh on the Pompey defender who had played well up until that point but he responded in the best possible fashion just five minutes later by blasting the ball into the bottom corner of the net from twenty yards to send Fratton Park into delerium.

As "Joe Devera - football genius" rang around the ground there was still one more save for Jones to make as he got down low and to his right to save Charlie Lee's free kick. The remaining minutes were seen out comfortably and Pompey finally won a game of football having gone six without victory.

It was a deserved win, too. Awford would have been disappointed with some of his team's defending and the slow start but he would have been happy with the character of his players and the effort they gave to ensure they picked up the three points.

Storey certainly made a difference with his pace, too. He offered an "out ball" and once he works out how to beat the offside trap properly he should be an asset to the squad. Westcarr did little in the match on the other hand, although he did clear the ball when it looked like it might go in at one point.

Overall, the tactics work but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. Stevenage are far from a great side in this division and some of the defending tonight left a lot to be desired.

However, this team looked like it was capable of scoring goals which is something that cannot be said of them in previous matches. Having gone so many games without a win it didn't really matter how the next games was won but now that hurdle has been jumped perhaps this team can push on and climb the table.

The result has done a lot for Awford who would have been feeling the pressure when his men went a goal down. To the fans' credit, they never turned on him during the match and showed that the majority of them are still fully behind him, and they got their rewards by sticking by the team and attending tonight when others probably couldn't be bothered.

The next test is to see how this team fares away from home with its new formation and hopefully new found confidence but Shrewsbury will be extremely difficult opposition given that they thrashed Bury 5-0 at New Meadow tonight.

Still, a win from that match will see Pompey well and truly back on track for a tilt at promotion.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 7 - Made a couple of important saves and takes.

Joe Devera: 7 - Decent showing and atoned for his error in style.

Paul Robinson: 6 - Not afraid to get his foot in.

Ben Chorley: 5 - Lacks the leadership this team needs at the back.

Nicky Shorey: 6 - Average.

Jed Wallace: 8 - At the heart of everything Pompey did going forward.

Danny Hollands: 7 - His best performance of the season so far.

James Dunne: 6 - Got stuck in as always.

Ricky Holmes: 6 - Posed some problems.

Miles Storey: 8 - Cracking goal and seems to have got his confidence back.

Craig Westcarr: 5 - Not really in the game.


Michael Poke

Dan Butler

Andy Barcham

Johnny Ertl (Wallace 90): N/A - Time-eating change.

Nigel Atangana (Westcarr 89): N/A - Brought on to shut up shop.

Patrick Agyemang

Ryan Taylor