Pompey Implode Against Pilgrims

Last updated : 17 April 2016 By Jim Bonner

Portsmouth's hopes of winning automatic promotion took a major blow as Plymouth scored two late goals to snatch all three points at Fratton Park yesterday.

Pompey fans were dumbfounded as to how their team could crumble in the final ten minutes of the game having been totally dominant since taking the lead thanks to Michael Smith's goal in the first half.

There wasn't much between the two teams before the interval with Plymouth having a header hit the post and another was cleared off the line by Enda Stevens as the visitors highlighted Pompey's weakness from defending corners.

The hosts improved after those early scares with Luke McCormick being forced to handle the ball outside his area to earn himself a yellow card. Kyle Bennett and Gary Roberts also had good attempts at goal before the deadlock was broken.

The goal came courtesy of some quick thinking as the ball was immediately thrown back in once it had gone out of play, that caught the Argyle defence sleeping which allowed Matt Clarke to cross the ball for Smith who stooped low to head the ball past McCormick.

From that point on Pompey dominated the game as it went into the second half and so many chances went begging. Danny Hollands, Gary Roberts and Christian Burgess all narrowly missed the target whilst Smith elected to shoot two tame efforts at goal when Argyle were caught on the break when he had better options available.

And Paul Cook's men paid for that profligacy late on when Jamille Matt headed in Graham Carey's corner with Paul Jones failing to beat the Pilgrims' striker to the ball.

Then, things turned really sour as just two minutes later some lacklustre defending all round led to Gregg Wylde's shot going under the legs of both Ben Davies and Jones for the utterly cruel winner.

The fingers of blame were pointed at various individuals after a defeat in such a crushing manner. Jones certainly shoulders his share of the blame as he should have taken the corner that led to the equaliser and yet was beaten to the ball by Matt who probably should have been marked by Clarke in the first place.

The second goal was just calamitous defending all round as Pompey once again struggled to regroup after conceding. Michael Doyle claimed that Pompey were "naive" yesterday and he was spot on.

Still, as much as the Blues crumbled late on they had so many chances to finish the game off and whilst Smith scored, his decision making and finishing in the second half was poor. His greed showed when he opted to tamely shoot rather to pass to Marc McNulty who was wide open.

Whoever is to blame, this result has to be moved on from quickly to ensure that Pompey's faint hopes of automatic promotion remain alive. Thankfully, Paul Cook's men have a trip to woeful York on Tuesday night and should win that despite this massive setback.

In all honesty, it looks like it's going to be the play-offs for Pompey. Would you back this team to win them?

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 5 - Solid until crucial error for the equaliser.

Ben Davies: 6 - Got forward well.

Christian Burgess: 6 - Comfortable until the last ten minutes.

Matt Clarke: 6 - Generally fine but should have dealt better with the big men.

Enda Stevens: 6 - Average overall.

Michael Doyle: 6 - Gave his all as usual.

Danny Hollands: 6 - Kept the ball well.

Adam McGurk: 5 - Offered little once again.

Gary Roberts: 6 - Pressed the ball well.

Kyle Bennett: 6 - Looked good on the ball.

Michael Smith: 6 - Scored but decision making was awful in second half.


Brian Murphy

Adam Webster

Ben Close

Kal Naismith

Gareth Evans (McGurk 67): 6 - Slotted in fine.

Marc McNulty (Roberts 76): N/A - Could start on Tuesday.

Conor Chaplin (Davies 89): N/A - Brought on to snatch a late goal but barely had time to even touch the ball.