Pompey Steal Victory Over Stags

Last updated : 30 April 2017 By Jim Bonner

Pompey have taken the fight for the League Two title to the final day of the season courtesy of a jammy win over Mansfield at Field Mill.

A turgid first half could have seen the hosts take the lead in the opening moments of the game but the goalmouth scramble in Pompey's box fortunately ended with the ball bouncing into David Forde's arms.

Both goalkeepers had comfortable saves to make before the break but Kal Naismith forced Jake Kean to beat a fierce drive out for a corner, having hilariously mustered an air shot earlier in the game that had the whole ground laughing.

The second half began with two decisions which went against Steve Evans' men, but both were correct.

Everyone watching the match were expecting a red card to be shown to Matt Clarke when his heavy touch led to him bringing down Danny Rose (Mansfield) with just Forde to beat. He was the last man and it was a clear goalscoring opportunity, after all.

However, it seems that everyone, including Paul Cook, has forgotten about the amendment to the rule about booking players who deny a clear goalscoring opportunity with an accidental foul.

The details on the rule change can be found here and because Clarke made a genuine attempt for the ball, a caution was the correct decision.

The home fans were further incensed when the ball broke for Rhys Bennett in the box, his strike beat Forde but he was in an offside position and the goal was ruled out.

The teams at the top of the division tend to get these decisions go their way and then suckerpunch the opposition and that's exactly what happened yesterday as Pompey went down the other end and took the lead.

Carl Baker combined with Naismith before his strike found the net, but Conor Chaplin is claiming the slightest touch on the ball and therefore the goal as his. Various angles and screenshots of the goal have been taken but it's still unclear. One for the dubious goals committee to debate...

Following the goal, a late challenge by Ben Whiteman on Kyle Bennett almost caused a brawl as tempers flared. Mansfield then resorted to lumping long balls into the box but any chances they did create were blasted over the bar and into the stand.

Naismith could have rubbed salt into the Stags' wounds late in the game on the break but he could only sky Gary Roberts' centre into the Pompey fans behind the goal before having a rant at himself.

Not that it mattered as the Blues held firm in the lengthy period of stoppage time to confirm their twelfth away win of the season and that, coupled with Doncaster's 3-1 home defeat to Exeter means the title race will go down to the final day.

Plymouth's win means that Portsmouth will have to beat Cheltenham on Saturday and hope both Argyle fail to win at Grimsby and Rovers don't take maximum points at Hartlepool to be declared League Two champions.

As for the match itself, it was a painful watch at times with Pompey nowhere near their best going forward and whilst they were solid enough at the back in general, a more clinical team would have punished the Blues for some disorganised defending at times.

Still, Cook deserves some credit for changing things tactically once his side did have the lead. Bringing on Jack Whatmough and Stanley Aborah helped shore things up whilst Roberts was aware enough to keep hold of the ball up front on the rare occasions that Pompey had the ball.

The players should also be commended for staying professional and keeping the pressure on the top two teams since winning promotion at Notts County. They did a job on Mansfield, that's for sure.

In all honesty this game won't live long in the memory but the result ensures that Portsmouth will have something to play for on the last day of a season for the first time in ten years when a goalless draw against Arsenal prevented Pompey from qualifying for the UEFA Cup.

Whilst it seems unlikely that a Grimsby side with nothing to play for and a dire Hartlepool side will do Pompey any favours, there'll always be hope that Fratton Park will be celebrating in some style come Saturday.

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 8 - Says he wants to stay at Pompey and after recent performances, may well get his wish. Another commendable showing.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Did a job but struggled to get forward.

Christian Burgess: 7 - Decent return to the side.

Matt Clarke: 6 - Sluggish at times but also got stuck in.

Enda Stevens: 7 - Good defensively but found opportunities to go forward lacking.

Michael Doyle: 6 - Passing was wayward at times.

Danny Rose: 7 - Got about the pitch.

Kal Naismith: 6 - Played his part in the goal but not his day otherwise.

Carl Baker: 6 - May have scored (may not have scored) but did little else.

Kyle Bennett: 5 - One run which ended in a tame shot aside, didn't make an impact.

Conor Chaplin: 5 - May claim the goal but never influenced the game.


Liam O'Brien

Jack Whatmough (Chaplin 69): 7 - Did what he was brought on to do.

Amine Linganzi

Stanley Aborah (Bennett 77): N/A - Shored things up.

Gary Roberts (Baker 77): N/A - Could have had an assist.

Jamal Lowe

Nicke Kabamba