Pompey Punish Poor Pilgrims

Last updated : 02 September 2018 By Jim Bonner

Pompey continued their impressive start to the campaign after they swept aside Plymouth at a packed Fratton Park yesterday.

Kenny Jackett's unchanged side were dominant for the majority of the first half as Jamal Lowe fired an early shot wide and Gareth Evans' effort from distance had to be tipped over the bar by Matt Macey.

The big talking point from an Argyle point of view was the "stonewall" penalty incident which saw Craig MacGillivray collide with Freddie Ladapo in the box as the Plymouth striker's effort sailed wide of the post, with claims for a spot kick being waved away.

At the other end of the pitch, Macey had a couple of other saves to make as the pressure increased and there was nothing he could do to stop Pompey taking the lead as Evans played in Lowe who unselfishly squared the ball to Ronan Curtis for an easy tap in.

Oli Hawkins then forced another save from Macey with Evans once again the driving force behind the move but from the on the visitors began to finally show some attacking intent.

Gary Sawyer blazed an effort over the bar when MacGillivray came for a corner and missed the ball but otherwise he and the four in front of him did a solid job in keeping Plymouth's attack quiet.

With Hawkins limping off before half-time, Jackett was forced into making his other two changes during the break with Jack Whatmough and Anton Walkes being replaced by Christian Burgess and Nathan Thompson respectively.

All three injuries are minor and the replaced trio are all expected to be available for next week's match but the changes didn't disturb Pompey's rhythm as they once again dominated the game.

Some desperate blocks prevented dangerous crosses from turning into goals whilst Tom Naylor's thunderbolt narrowly flew over the bar. At the other end, Graham Carey struck the post but that was as good as it got for Argyle as they soon fell further behind.

Curtis beat his man on the wing before producing a superb cross to the far post where an unmarked Jamal Lowe met it to double Pompey's lead and effectively kill the game.

The match was over as a contest for certain a few minutes later when Curtis bullied Sawyer off the ball before bearing down on goal and beating Macey with a fierce shot from an angle. Brett Pitman wanted the ball to be squared to him but that was never going to happen!

Virtually nothing happened after that with the points in the bag and the match ended on a sour note as Joe Riley angrily reacted to being nutmegged and generally made a fool of before the final whistle blew to confirm an immensely satisfying victory.

Derek Adams predictably acted bitter after the game, droning on about the "stonewall" penalty claim as well as two others in the first half. He may have a point with the collision but with Ladapo already taking the shot and the collision not necessarily being a foul, referee Tom Nield (who was excellent during the game, it should be said) judged that no penalty should have been awarded.

Even if a spot kick was given, there's no guarantee that Plymouth would have scored it, such was there gutless performance yesterday. There was surprisingly little fight to come from Argyle as usually these fixtures are tightly contested with bookings aplenty, yet in yesterday's encounter not even Ben Thompson was shown the yellow card!

As awful as Argyle were, Pompey really turned on the style yesterday and their performance was light years ahead of the opening day showing against Luton.

Curtis and Lowe will undoubtedly take all of the plaudits for their assists and goals but Evans has stepped up his game to such a high standard recently that it's impossible to drop him. It's also getting to the point where we're now simply taking outstanding performances from Matt Clarke and Ben Thompson for granted as they're playing at a consistently high level and are easily too good for League One.

One player who hasn't received the plaudits he deserves so far is Lee Brown. He arrived from Bristol Rovers with little fanfare and yet has been solid at the back and can support the attack surprisingly well, too. An early contender for the unsung hero award, perhaps?

Another one of the early season strugglers in Shrewsbury come to Fratton Park on Saturday before what should be the first true test of the season when Pompey go to Peterborough. Whilst it's too early to know just how good this Portsmouth side are, they certainly have everyone buzzing.

To finish, Derek Adams bitterly suggested that Pompey fans should remember that Plymouth have finished above Portsmouth in two of the last three seasons.

Oh Derek, we do remember those occasions which ultimately meant nothing. We also remember snatching the League Two trophy from you at the death.

And whilst your team did overhaul Pompey last season, only an absolute fool would bet on Argyle repeating that feat this time. The gap is already at thirteen points and that's only going to get wider.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 6 - A couple of nervy moments but generally a safe pair of hands.

Anton Walkes: 5 - Not his best day but did his injury play a part?

Jack Whatmough: 8 - A rock. Hopefully injury isn't too serious.

Matt Clarke: 9 - Just makes the game look so easy. Pompey will struggle to keep hold of him come January.

Lee Brown: 8 - Excellent both defending and going forward.

Tom Naylor: 8 - Now looks like the player Burton fans were sorry to see leave in the summer. Won virtually everything.

Ben Thompson: 8 - Simply class.

Gareth Evans: 8 - Has stepped up his game and cannot be dropped on this form.

Jamal Lowe: 8 - Gave the Plymouth defence too much hassle for them to handle.

Ronan Curtis: 9 - An absolute nightmare for Argyle and looks an absolute steal for £100,000.

Oli Hawkins: 6 - Missed his one big chance but still a useful outlet.


Luke McGee

Nathan Thompson (Walkes 46): 7 - An improvement on Walkes and should look to make the right back position his own.

Christian Burgess (Whatmough 46): 6 - Had one header that missed the target but otherwise slotted in fine.

Ben Close

Andre Green

David Wheeler

Brett Pitman (Hawkins 41): 6 - Did a job but the performances of those around him means he isn't so vital anymore.