Pompey Party Poopers

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 10 December 2017

Pompey ruined Charlton's 25th anniversary at The Valley yesterday by winning 1-0 courtesy of an own goal on the same ground they lost at when it reopened 25 years ago.

The pre-match celebrations included a ceremony with ex-directors and players as well as a trio of opera songs to commemorate the special occasion but come the end of the evening the Addicks fans would leave disappointed.

It took some time for the visitors to make their mark on the game as the hosts dominated possession the first half an hour but were being well contained. Pompey's "attack" amounted to aimless long balls until things eventually clicked.

A swift counter-attack saw Ben Amos called into action as he had to tip Gareth Evans' effort over the bar with the resulting corner causing some chaos in the box before Stuart O'Keefe's effort looped onto the top of the net.

Pompey had grown into the game and looked threatening on the break but it was Luke McGee who pulled off a couple of good saves late in the half. Firstly by tipping Ricky Holmes' shot over the bar and then stretching his hand to stop Jay Dasilva's curling effort from finding the net.

Kyle Bennett was introduced at the start of the second half as Pompey were awarded a soft free kick just two minutes in. Gareth Evans whipped the ball into the box and Josh Magennis inadvertently turned it into his own net. The tannoy announcer may have tried to spare the Charlton striker's blushes by claiming O'Keefe had scored but it was clearly an own goal.

Pompey piled on the pressure after that opener and looked more likely to score the next goal before being handed the perfect opportunity to do so.

Normally a penalty isn't awarded when a defender tugs an opposition player's shirt in the box, especially when said player is running away from goal. However, referee Andrew Madley had been blowing up for the most miniscule of offences during the entire game and was at least consistent when Chris Solly pulled Brett Pitman back.

The Blues' top scorer struck the spot kick towards the corner of the goal but Amos did brilliantly to save it and deny Kenny Jackett's men the breathing space they desired. Charlton then had a period of pressure where the Pompey defence were tested but they didn't buckle and instead the game descended into a dogged affair with a few yellow cards being shown.

Evans and Lowe continued to cause Charlton problems on the break but the best chance fell to Leon Best on the cusp of full-time as his header looked certain to find the bottom corner of the net, only for McGee to get down to the ground with lightning reflexes and somehow prevent the ball from going in.

That was the final incident of an engrossing game where Pompey came away deserved winners despite a stuttering start. Addicks fans may bemoan their team's lack of luck having lost to an own goal but the truth is that Pompey played the perfect "away game" by soaking up the pressure and hitting them on the break.

This can only happen if everyone does their job well and it's safe to say that every Pompey player played their part in the victory. Burgess and Clarke won virtually everything but more praise has to go to Brandan Haunstrup who shone once again at left back and has developed exponentially since the start of the season.

Danny Rose was exceptional in breaking up play once again despite a couple of misplaced passes whilst Gareth Evans and Jamal Lowe carried a threat down the wings and yet were more than willing to help our defensively whenever Charlton threatened to break.

This wasn't just a smash 'n' grab performance, either, as Pompey played some good possession football in the second half. One passage of play which stands out saw the ball moved about amongst numerous players in blue shirts before Pitman turned a cross just wide of the post.

The result is a pivotal one in Pompey's campaign and has given everyone the belief that perhaps this season is simply more than a consolidation effort. To go to Charlton when all the omens forecast a home win and earn what was a deserved victory should be a huge boost going into the Christmas period.

Of course, it would be "typical Pompey" if points were to be dropped at home to League One's bottom team next week but Kenny Jackett is as professional as managers come and he'll make sure his players are ready.

And if his players continue to perform as well as they did yesterday, then surely a place in the play-offs come May is attainable.

Pompey Player Ratings

Luke McGee: 8 - An outstanding save at the end of a commanding display.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Kept Holmes relatively quiet.

Christian Burgess: 8 - Won everything in the air and seems to have upped his own game in recent weeks.

Matt Clarke: 8 - Another strong showing as expected.

Brandan Haunstrup: 8 - Another mature performance to nullify Charlton's biggest threats. Constantly improving.

Danny Rose: 8 - Stole the ball on many occasions and protected the back four well.

Stuart O'Keefe: 7 - Kept things flowing but can't claim that goal!

Gareth Evans: 8 - Excellent both going forward and defensively.

Conor Chaplin: 6 - Looked bright on occasion but wasn't involved enough.

Jamal Lowe: 8 - Made Charlton's defenders look stupid at times, but his defensive work shouldn't be under-estimated.

Brett Pitman: 6 - Worked hard but wasn't his night overall.

Substitutes

Alex Bass

Drew Talbot

Matt Casey

Adam May

Matty Kennedy

Kyle Bennett (Chaplin 46): 7 - Always looked a threat.

Curtis Main

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