Pompey Lose Key Promotion Clash

Pompey are now five points behind League One leaders Luton Town after falling to a 3-2 defeat at Kenilworth Road courtesy of a woeful first half performance and some terrible decision making from referee Simon Hooper in the second.

The Hatters showed why they were top of the league and Pompey showed exactly why they had been struggling for league form as the home side totally dominated proceedings until the break.

Kenny Jackett's men were penned in their own half for the vast majority of the first half and had plenty of defending to do. Craig MacGillivray was worked on a couple of occasions by Kazenga LuaLua whilst other attempts from Luke Berry sailed narrowly wide.

Every time Pompey won the ball back, they immediately surrendered it to Luton who charged forward for another attack. The pressure was telling and it was no surprise when LuaLua threaded a pass through for James Collins to score yet another goal against Portsmouth.

There were no attacks of note at all for Pompey with Gareth Evans slipping before firing the ball well over the bar summing up just how dreadful he and the players around him were after such a terrible showing.

Jackett's response was to replace Evans and Brett Pitman with Dion Donohue and debutant Omar Bogle and the first 46 seconds of the second half dwarfed the entire first 45 minutes of the game as Donhoue struck a shot at the Luton goalkeeper after some neat interplay.

The equaliser arrived quickly as some chaos in the Luton box allowed Jamal Lowe to give the ball to Ronan Curtis who drilled the ball into the bottom corner of the net.

James Shea then had to tip Bryn Morris' effort over the bar and Curtis had another shot as Pompey turned the game on its head thanks to Bogle's influence.

However, referee Hooper made his first controversial decision of the game when he penalised Jack Whatmough for a supposed foul on LuaLua in the box. It was a soft decision and Collins took full advantage by rifling the spot kick into the corner, giving MacGillivray no chance.

Pompey showed their character to get back into the game and Luton's lead only lasted three minutes courtesy of a debut goal from Bogle who tapped in Lowe's cross with the Hatters' defence struggling to contain him.

He could have had another just a minute later when played through but his effort was tipped around the post by Shea.

A draw would have been a good result but Hooper then made his second controversial decision of the night by awarding a free kick to Luton just outside the box even though Anton Walkes clearly took the ball from George Moncur.

Up stepped Moncur to bend an unstoppable free kick into the corner to give Luton the lead for the third time in the game and they were able to hold onto it as there was little time for Pompey to muster yet another equaliser.

The result is a damaging defeat but there are so many positives to take from the second half performance. Bogle was brilliant, the midfield rediscovered their fight and the team as a whole looked like the Pompey of 2018 rather than the pale imitation of 2019 so far. Had the referee done his job correctly, the Blues surely would have left Bedfordshire with a result.

To lose in that matter will bring about a sense of injustice around the camp and may just motivate the troops more to reduce the five point deficit now. There are still 17 matches to play and winter is almost over. Come spring, that's usually when Pompey put together their best run of form.

However, they may still need a new face or two before February begins with the visit of Doncaster to Fratton Park. All eyes will be on Tornante and what they do between now and Thursday's transfer deadline because after three straight league defeats, there isn't much more room for error and the squad could still do with one or two more new faces.

Let's hope we, as fans, aren't left to rue a second successive awful January which ends up derailing Portsmouth's season. It would be much harder to take this time around.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 7 - No chance with any of the goals and made a couple of smart saves.

Anton Walkes: 6 - Wrongfully penalised for the Luton winner.

Jack Whatmough: 5 - Gave away an (albeit soft) penalty and distribution was awful.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Held the defence together in the first half.

Lee Brown: 5 - Not his best night.

Tom Naylor: 6 - The cliché game of two halves for him.

Bryn Morris: 6 - Looks better going forward than as a holding midfielder.

Ronan Curtis: 6 - Caused problems in the second half after anonymous first half.

Gareth Evans: 3 - Barely touched the ball and gave it away when he did. An evening to forget.

Jamal Lowe: 7 - Bagged a couple of assists.

Brett Pitman: 3 - Never saw the ball.

Substitutes

Alex Bass

Brandan Haunstrup

Christian Burgess

Adam May

Dion Donohue (Evans 46): 7 - Settled the midfield down.

Louis Dennis

Omar Bogle (Pitman 46): 8 - Game changer. Will surely start against Doncaster.