Pompey Pummel Poor Crawley

Pompey kept pace in the race for promotion after easing to a 3-0 win over Crawley at Fratton Park.

Before the match there was warm applause for ex-Portsmouth goalkeeper Pavel Srnicek who tragically died at the age of 47 having been part of Harry Redknapp's inaugural Premier League squad in the 2003/2004 season.

When the match begun it didn't take Pompey long to banish the blues of the goalless draw with Luton as Crawley were immediately put under pressure with the full backs delivering some excellent balls into the box.

Any hopes Mark Yates had for his side to escape Fratton Park with a goalless draw were dashed early on as Matt Clarke celebrated his loan extension with his first goal for Pompey after heading in Ben Davies' corner.

The siege continued as Enda Stevens exposed Crawley's weaknesses down the right and delivered a couple of perfect crosses into the box that weren't converted before another delivery found ab unmarked Marc McNulty in the box who had all the time in the world to blast the ball past ex-Pompey keeper Darryl Flahavan.

There could have been more goals if Flahavan hadn't produced an excellent save to deny Kyle Bennett whose effort took a massive deflection off Jon Ashton whilst Sonny Bradley, returning to Fratton Park for the first time, also made his fair share of crucial blocks to keep the scoreline respectable before the break.

The visitors had only forced one save from Brian Murphy during the first half but began to play their way into the game after weathering an early storm in the second half and the Pompey goalkeeper will have been grateful to Davies for deflecting a goalbound effort onto the crossbar.

Pompey should have had more goals after a lull in play as Caolan Lavery's header was cleared off the line and the busy Bennett was unlucky not to score.

The third goal arrived seven minutes from time as substitute Ben Tollitt showed great pace and strength to break down the pitch and shrug off a couple of challenges before squaring the ball for fellow sub Gary Roberts who produced a cool finish to complete a convincing win for Pompey.

Kyle Bennett was given the Man of the Match award from the sponsors but although he deserved all the acclaim he got yesterday, Enda Stevens is proving to be Pompey's most under-rated player of the season so far.

His solidity at the back is matched by his willingness to get forward and whip in a dangerous cross from the left. He always works hard, never shirks a challenge and is Pompey's top "assistant" with eight to his name.

Overall, it was another good performance at home albeit against limited opposition. Portsmouth's form at Fratton Park has been erratic this season as they either hammer the opposition or get held to a goalless draw.

Yesterday's victory was certainly required as Plymouth, Northampton and Oxford all won as did Accrington who can still jump Pompey if they win two of their three games in hand on the Blues.

Stanley just happen to be Pompey's next opponents in League Two with another crucial match at home to Oxford after that. It's worth noting that the other promotion challengers have to play each other during this month so the promotion picture should be much clearer come January.

In the meantime there's a nice little FA Cup tie at Portman Road to look forward to next week. Is an upset on the cards?

Pompey Player Ratings

Brian Murphy: 6 - Had one save of note to make.

Ben Davies: 8 - Yet another quality performance.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Goal added to overall solid display.

Adam Webster: 7 - A comfortable afternoon for the most part.

Enda Stevens: 8 - Excelled both at the back and going forward.

Michael Doyle: 7 - Rarely lost a challenge.

Danny Hollands: 6 - Was barely troubled.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Average showing.

Marc McNulty: 7 - The news that he is staying for the rest of the season is a massive boost.

Kyle Bennett: 7 - Did everything but score.

Caolan Lavery: 6 - Worked hard.

Substitutes

Alex Bass

Adam Barton

Nigel Atangana

Gary Roberts (McNulty 67): 7 - Nice finish.

Ben Tollitt (Evans 67): 7 - Another effective cameo.

Adam McGurk

Conor Chaplin (Lavery 85): N/A - Little time to add a fourth.