Pompey Sink Struggling Newport

Last updated : 26 March 2017 By Jim Bonner

Goals from the returning Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith ensured Pompey got their automatic promotion bid back on track by beating Newport 2-1 at Fratton Park.

Paul Cook's men were virtually in total control of the first half as Kal Naismith whipped in a couple of excellent crosses into the box which Eoin Doyle couldn't convert before going off with an injury.

Newport's only chance of the half came when Ryan Bird's cross into the box caused a panic in the Pompey defence before the ball was eventually hacked clear but they spent most of the first 45 minutes defending.

That resistance was finally broken when Carl Baker produced an outstanding through-ball to Bennett who slotted the ball under Joe Day's legs to give Pompey a deserved lead going into the break.

The second half began in a fairly even fashion before Pompey doubled their lead as some intricate play around the box led to Conor Chaplin crossing the ball to an unmarked Naimsith who headed home and it seemed like that woud be game over.

However, the Exiles threatened to make a game of it and after David Forde clawed Marlon Jackson's curling effort behind for a corner, the following set-piece led to Alex Samuel getting the faintest of headers on Sean Riggs' cross to half the deficit.

The Pompey panic then set in as Forde did brilliantly to block Jackson's effort and take the ball into his hands from point-blank range and Gareth Evans also made a vital clearance to stop Samuel from firing in what would have been a certain equaliser.

Jack Whatmough was brought on in the final minutes to shore up the defence and it worked as he won some crucial challenges to ensure the Welsh side wouldn't get the goal they craved and Pompey fans were relieved when the final whistle blew to confirm the victory.

And what an important win it turned out to be as the most of the chasing pack dropped points, most notably Stevenage who could only manage a goalless draw at Cambridge whilst Luton were beaten at Colchester. The gap between third and fourth is now six points and Pompey have a significantly better goal difference than Boro to boot.

As for yesterday's performance, it was good enough to get the job done. Bennett and Naismith showed how much they were missed whilst the recent performances from Baker and Forde will have silenced their critics earlier in the season. The former may not score many but is a key creative force whilst Pompey were indebted to the latter yesterday for some key saves.

Unfortunately, Tom Davies looked out of place in the back four and it was his mistakes that led to Newport having the chances they did. Forde berated him on a couple of occasions and deservedly so but thankfully Christian Burgess will return against Hartlepool next week.

There are now just seven games remaining and the maximum requirement will be that Pompey have to win five of them to be virtually certain of promotion and even if they don't, Stevenage will have to go some to catch the Blues now.

It's all looking very good for Portsmouth right now but they don't tend to follow the script. Hopefully, this season will be different and promotion can be achieved in April.

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 8 - Made some key saves, blocks and takes to preserve Pompey's lead.

Gareth Evans: 7 - One vital clearance in an otherwise solid display.

Tom Davies: 5 - Lost his composure in the second half.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Solid as always.

Enda Stevens: 6 - Not quite at his best.

Michael Doyle: 6 - Did his job but faded in the second half.

Danny Rose: 7 - Typical energetic performance.

Kal Naismith: 8 - Always threatening.

Carl Baker: 7 - Coming into his own as the season end draws nearer.

Kyle Bennett: 8 - Caused plenty of problems for the Newport defence.

Eoin Doyle: 5 - Missed a few good opportunities before injury ended his game prematurely.


Liam O'Brien

Drew Talbot

Jack Whatmough (Naismith 83): N/A - Won some vital headers.

Amine Linganzi

Jamal Lowe (Bennett 71): N/A - Struggled to make an impact.

Conor Chaplin (E. Doyle 25): 6 - Played his part in the second goal.

Noel Hunt