Pompey See Off Sky Blues

Pompey's impressive start to the season continued tonight as they recorded a 1-0 win over Coventry at the Ricoh Arena to extend their unbeaten run to eleven games.

The match began at a fast pace with both sides intent on attacking and Ben Close was presented with the best chance of the half as an attacking move crafted by the Pompey forwards led to Nathan Thompson squaring the ball for him, but his effort sailed wide of the post when it should have hit the target.

The game was soon reduced to a turgid affair with neither side able to carve out any opportunities. The home side were gifted a chance when neither Matt Clarke or Jack Whatmough committed to going for a loose ball and allowed Jonson Clarke-Harris to run through on goal but thankfully Craig MacGillivray was alert enough to come off his line and deny him.

That was as good as it got for the Sky Blues but a match that looked destined for a stalemate at half-time was lit up just before the break.

Ben Close picked out Brett Pitman with a superb cross-field pass and he nodded the ball down to Ronan Curtis who took the ball forward and beat his challenger before lashing the ball into the bottom corner of the net from the outside of the box.

The second half was an even tougher watch Pompey had built a formidable barrier that Coventry, for all of their possession, couldn't break down. On the other hand, Pompey gave the ball away too often and barely mustered an attack themselves.

Jamal Lowe did have a shot that curled narrowly wide late on and also wasted an excellent opportunity when picked out in the box but he blazed the ball into the Pompey fans in the crowd behind the goal.

The only real nervy moment came deep into stoppage time when MacGillivray couldn't hold onto Michael Doyle's free kick and Tom Naylor was able to clear the loose ball after a scramble.

Referee Brett Huxtable then blew the final whistle to confirm Pompey's eighth win of the season and the good news continued as Sunderland and Peterborough held each other to a draw whilst Barnsley also surprisingly dropped points at home to winless Plymouth and Doncaster lost at Accrington.

Kenny Jackett deserves a lot of credit for his game management tonight. He brought off Close and Pitman just as they were waning and their replacements in Ben Thompson and Oli Hawkins did their jobs effectively.

The defensive minded players all seem to know what they were doing and all could have been candidates for Pompey's man of the match tonight. The centre backs won everything, Lee Brown continues to be the unsung hero of the side and Nathan Thompson won many cheap free kicks to ease the pressure.

However, Naylor was the one protecting the back four and did an outstanding job doing it. The man was like a brick wall, blocking everything and keeping the pressure on the Coventry midfield. Every team needs a player who can roll their sleeves up and dig in when games are low on quality and tonight's match was certainly one of those occasions.

Whilst the wingers didn't have their best games going forward, they were still willing to track back and Lowe in particular made a couple of crucial blocks when Coventry were attempting to come forward down the wing.

Overall, this was a performance which has proven that Pompey aren't a soft touch away from home any more and the only team who have stopped the Blues winning on the road are Doncaster.

Pompey now have to get back to winning ways at home when struggling Gillingham come to Fratton Park on Saturday. With the confidence currently flowing through this team there's no reason why there shouldn't be a ninth win and twelve unbeaten after the weekend.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 7 - One dodgy moment at the end but otherwise a safe and alert pair of hands.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Business as usual.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Always confident.

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Headed everything away even if his distribution was off.

Lee Brown: 7 - Did his job effectively.

Tom Naylor: 8 - An excellent shield in front of the back four.

Ben Close: 7 - A couple of superb passes and generally assured on the ball.

Gareth Evans: 7 - Won the ball when he had to.

Ronan Curtis: 7 - Quality goal even if he had a quiet night otherwise.

Jamal Lowe: 6 - Didn't happen for him going forward but did his defensive duties well.

Brett Pitman: 6 - An effective outlet at times but not a goal threat.

Substitutes

Luke McGee

Anton Walkes

Brandan Haunstrup

Ben Thompson (Close 70): 7 - Added some extra energy in midfield.

David Wheeler

Joe Mason

Oli Hawkins (Pitman 83): N/A - Did well during the time he had.