Pompey Take Down Tangerines

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 14 February 2017

Pompey ensured their supporters would end Valentine's Day on a happy note as they produced a spirited performance to defeat Blackpool at Fratton Park.

The fans also played their part as the negativity that plagued the performance against Accrington had disappeared and that meant an improved showing, especially in the first half.

The first chance came when Gary Roberts smashed Eoin Doyle's cutback against the crossbar and then the latter went close with a header as the former Chesterfield players again showed how well they combine together.

Both sides then tested each other's keepers with shots on target that were never going to go in but Paul Cook's men made their dominance count after a loose ball was lashed into the top corner by Gareth Evans.

Roberts then sent a header narrowly wide of the target whilst Eoin Doyle again missed two great chances to give his team a comfortable lead going into the break.

Blackpool predictably improved in the second half but Pompey have the best defence in the league for a reason and were able to get the ball clear whenever the visitors looked threatening.

This was epitomised when a cross into the box somehow wasn't turned in by a Tangerines player but when the ball fell to Brad Potts, he looked certain to equalise until Enda Stevens slid in to intercept the goalbound shot.

They also almost equalised from a corner only for Tom Aldred to head wide, whilst any other efforts flew well off target due to the relentless pressure the Pompey players had put their opponents under.

Gary Bowyer's last throw of the dice was a triple substitution which included the play-off villain of last season in Jamille Matt as Blackpool continued to hoof the ball upward in desperation.

However, the Blues defenders were equal to every long ball but with the crowd restless, a second goal was required as the fourth official signalled for five minutes of stoppage time courtesy of Evans' injury.

The fans' frustrations grew as Carl Baker opted to shoot on the counter-attack rather than play in one of his better-positioned team mates but there was joy at the end as another quick break saw Eoin Doyle beat a couple of players and give the ball to Baker who squared it back to the striker to covert from close range and confirm another important victory for Portsmouth.

Tonight will certainly go down as one of the most enjoyable matches of the season, even if the last twenty minutes were jittery. The atmosphere was back and the whole team played well, from the back four who gave little away as a unit all the way up to Eoin Doyle whose energy and running was reminiscent of Benjani's "defend from the front" performances back in the day.

The only downer was the injury to Evans which hopefully isn't too serious. He was particularly impressive today but no single player should be singled out for praise as they all played well, yes, even Gary Roberts.

In context of League Two, Pompey have kept pace with Carlisle and Luton who recorded home wins over Doncaster and Hartlepool respectively. However, Exeter conceded two late goals to draw at Notts County, Mansfield scored a late goal but could only draw 4-4 with Accrington whilst Wycombe were beaten on the road again, this time by Crewe.

The more optimistic fans will still believe that Plymouth can be caught after their shock 3-2 home defeat to Leyton Orient with the gap now at nine points and the Pilgrims still to come to Fratton Park. The promotion race continues to enthrall.

On a final note, Portsmouth are two points better off after 30 games this season than they were last season. Their 31st match was away at Barnet where Paul Cook's men produced a dire performance and were beaten 1-0.

Let's hope history doesn't repeat itself on Saturday.

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 6 - A couple of dodgy moments but is releasing the ball quicker now.

Gareth Evans: 8 - Excellent finish for the opener and did a solid job at the back.

Christian Burgess: 8 - Continues to perform to a high standard.

Matt Clarke: 8 - Has really come into his own.

Enda Stevens: 8 - Blocked most of the crosses destined for the box as well as that timely interception of Potts' shot.

Michael Doyle: 6 - Pedestrian but still did a job.

Amine Linganzi: 7 - Unsung hero of the match.

Jamal Lowe: 6 - Worked hard.

Gary Roberts: 7 - Best performance for quite a while.

Kyle Bennett: 6 - Needed more support at times.

Eoin Doyle: 8 - Tireless runner, constanly pressured the Blackpool defence and got the goal he deserved.

Substitutes

Liam O'Brien

Jack Whatmough (Bennett 83): N/A - Brought on to fill in at right back so Naismith could play in a more natural position.

Danny Rose

Carl Baker (Lowe 68): 6 - Got his decision making right in the end.

Kal Naismith (Evans 75): N/A - Would have been happy to not play at the back for too long.

Conor Chaplin

Noel Hunt

Portsmouth Match Reports

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