Pompey Sweep Shrimpers Aside

Portsmouth recorded an eighth straight victory yesterday courtesy of a comfortable win over Southend at Fratton Park.

The visitors started brightly and had two early attempts at Craig MacGillivray's goal but that was about as good as it got for Chris Powell's injury-ravaged side as Pompey soon took control of the game.

The Blues were gifted the lead when Michael Turner inadvertently turned Ronan Curtis' cross into his own net and the Irish winger should have had another assist soon after only for Matt Clarke to head the ball over the bar with nobody challenging him.

Oli Hawkins also narrowly missed the target with a header but the lead was doubled when the tenacious Gareth Evans chased a ball that he had touched too heavily and laid it off for Curtis who delivered yet another sumptuous cross for Jamal Lowe to head in a second goal via the inside of the post.

There should have been a penalty soon after as Lowe's pass was clearly handled by Luke Hyam in the box but Lee Collins decided not to give it. When the Southend fans claimed that they could see it was a handball from the Milton End, it's clear that Collins got the decision wrong.

The second half, much like the previous home game with Walsall, was a simple case of Pompey easing to victory without exerting themselves too much.

Whilst Southend had plenty of possession, they rarely made it count with only a goalmouth scramble and a teasing cross that could have been diverted into the net being the only things the 726 away fans could celebrate on a dismal evening for them.

Instead, Kenny Jackett's men could have made things worse as Ben Close couldn't finish a counter-attack after beeing teed up by Lowe whilst Ben Thompson's free kick was well saved by Mark Oxley and Clarke couldn't turn in the loose ball.

Not that it mattered as the final whistle blew to confirm one of Pompey's most straightforward victories of the season.

Curtis was clearly man-of-the-match as not only did he make both goals but his work rate was exceptional as he did his defensive duties well. This was epitomised by an incident in the game where he managed to win the ball back from a Southend player with his own strength when they were building some momentum in the second half.

All of this team are happy to do the donkey work and that's what makes Pompey so difficult to score against. Whilst the performance against Walsall may have drawn some nerves from the crowd, there wasn't any feeling like that yesterday and from the moment the second goal was scored it was clear that Pompey were going to win, albeit against an impotent side lacking any real verve or quality going forward.

Charlton will surely pose a bigger threat on Tuesday night but it's difficult to bet against a side that has won so many games on the bounce and just don't look like conceding. This team has a confidence about it and every player works hard and does the basics right. Those are the foundations of a promotion winning team from League One.

If the Addicks are beaten then that will give Pompey 50 points from 21 games, a whopping nine points clear of second-placed Luton and ten clear of Sunderland, although they will have two games in hand after their match at Accrington was abandoned yesterday with the score at 1-1.

Pompey fans shouldn't get carried away just yet as the next two weekends could be pivotal in the promotion race with a trip to Barnsley and then the big one against Sunderland at Fratton Park.

Should the Blues get to the Boxing Day fixture against Gillingham with their opponents still being the only team to beat them in the league this season, then surely the belief will be that Portsmouth will be promoted in May 2019.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 6 - One bad moment when he dropped a cross but otherwise a comfortable evening.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Continues to be "clever" by winning free kicks but overall showing was decent.

Matt Clarke: 6 - Average by his own exceptional standards and could have scored twice!

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Another solid performance.

Lee Brown: 7- Continues to be the unsung hero of the team.

Ben Thompson: 8 - A cut above the rest of the midfield and hopefully Millwall don't recall him.

Tom Naylor: 7 - Protected the back four well.

Ronan Curtis: 8 - A nightmare for Southend's fullbacks.

Gareth Evans: 6 - Showed great tenacity in build up to the second goal but not in the game as much as others.

Jamal Lowe: 7 - Scored an overdue goal and always a threat.

Oli Hawkins: 6 - Missed a couple of chances.

Substitutes

Luke McGee

Anton Walkes

Christian Burgess

Ben Close (Evans 73): N/A - Should have scored.

Louis Dennis

Andre Green

Brett Pitman (B.Thompson 89): N/A - Token switch.