Pompey Go Top

Last updated : 27 September 2015 By Jim Bonner

Portsmouth are now top of League Two following a deserved 2-1 victory over Bristol Rovers at the Memorial Stadium yesterday.

Paul Cook's men produced a more controlled display than last weekend at Oxford, especially in the first half. They kept the ball well and carved out a few chances as Gareth Evans fired straight at goalkeeper Lee Nicholls when he should have done better.

Conor Chaplin definitely should have done better when he somehow headed Kyle Bennett's cross wide whilst Jayden Stockley also headed Enda Stevens' delivery over the bar.

Pompey's pressure finally told just before the half-hour when another incisive move led to Bennett whipping the ball into the box for an unmarked Evans to precisely head it into the corner of the net for a deserved lead.

Rovers came back into the game with Aaron McCarey having to make a couple of smart saves to preserve the lead but Evans again wasted a good chance at the end of the half by again shooting straight at Nicholls when Chaplin fed him.

The hosts raised their game after the break and restored parity as a cross from the right was met by Jermaine Easter whose shot struck the crossbar and unfortunately ricocheted off McCarey for an own goal on his debut. Given that Linvoy Primus and Johnny Ertl also scored own goals on their debuts, the omens suggest that McCarey will become ambassador chairman of PFC in the future!

Pompey struggled to recover from that blow initially and almost fell behind when Easter seized upon a poor pass from Matt Clarke and smashed a shot against the post from long range.

Ben Davies and Chaplin both went down in the box soon after but the referee wasn't interested and even booked the latter for diving. The protests were limited but the youngster was in a good shooting position when he was supposedly fouled.

The game swung back in Pompey's favour when Chaplin was replaced by the returning Gary Roberts. He added a touch of class to the midfield and the visitors passed the ball much better as a result.

It took just three minutes after that change for Pompey to re-take the lead thanks to some excellent build up play that ended with Stockley poking in Davies' cross with his oustretched foot after he got ahead of the Bristol Rovers defender in the box.

The Gas couldn't really muster much of a response after that. Evans had another shot saved whilst substitute Kal Naismith did well to keep possession and then run down the clock with an injury late on.

Pompey saw stoppage time out comfortably to record their third away win of the season already. It took until May to achieve that last season but this campaign looks like it will have a far brighter ending.

The performance yesterday was an improvement from Oxford but still wasn't at peak standard and Clarke will probably get a talking to from the boss as it was him who lost his man for the equaliser and had Easter's long range shot found the net rather than the woodwork then he would have shouldered the majority of the blame for that too.

Not that Clarke should be singled out simply for criticism. After all, he still dealt with the long balls tossed into the box as did Burgess beside him. It was good to see Bennett turn in an improved performance too as he was a genuine threat throughout the first half.

Evans is a bit of an enigma, though. He may have scored the opener but could have had a hat-trick if he were sharper. He doesn't seem to much else to the team other than being at the right place at the right time as he isn't blessed with pace and doesn't deliver a particularly great cross either. But whilst he's scoring, he'll stay in the team.

The whole team as a unit played well and it was good to hear Rovers fans on the radio after the game admit they were beaten by the better side. However, it should be said that the Gas were mediocre at best yesterday and such teams should be put to the sword by any team looking to win promotion from League Two.

Still, it's a good feeling to be top of the pile even at this early stage of the season and to go nine games undefeated is no mean feat.

Just watch us lose to Exeter on Tuesday now!

Pompey Player Ratings

Aaron McCarey: 6 - Unfortunate own goal but made a couple of good saves.

Ben Davies: 8 - Quality once again. Played a part in both goals.

Christian Burgess: 7 - Solid for the most part.

Matt Clarke: 6 - Made a couple of errors but still doesn't get beaten in the air.

Enda Stevens: 6 - Steady enough.

Adam Barton: 6 - Still lacks some match practice.

Danny Hollands: 7 - Slotted into the side seamlessly.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Scored one but should have had more.

Conor Chaplin: 6 - Dangerous at times but missed a sitter.

Kyle Bennett: 7 - A real threat in the first half.

Jayden Stockley: 7 - Replaced McGurk who was injured in the warm-up and took his chance.


Alex Bass

Adam Webster

Adam May

Gary Roberts (Chaplin 68): 7 - Game changer.

Kal Naismith (Bennett 74): N/A - Kept the ball well.

Matt Tubbs (Stockley 79): N/A - Chased everything.