Statement Of Intent

Last updated : 16 September 2018 By Jim Bonner

Pompey replaced Peterborough at the top of League One yesterday following a 2-1 win at London Road.

The match was a fairly scrappy affair with few chances, especially in the first half where Roger East was content to blow his whistle for any minor infraction.

Both goalkeepers only had one shot on target to save and both were dealt with comfortably from Gareth Evans and Jason Naismith. Anything else Posh had to throw at Pompey was comfortably dealt with by the defence but Kenny Jackett's men weren't able to build any attacking rhythm themselves and thus, the first half ended goalless.

The second half started in similar fashion but Pompey began to tighten their grip on the game and Ronan Curtis made the difference as he beat his man and crossed for Oli Hawkins who headed the ball into the ground before bouncing into the net for the opener.

Curtis and Hawkins were instrumental again for the second goal soon after as the former once again got down the left and crossed for the latter, only for Hawkins to take the ball around the defender and cross for Curtis who knocked the ball onto an umarked Jamal Lowe in the box and he gratefully struck in the second goal.

Hawkins could have had another when a corner into the box was nodded back across goal by Tom Naylor but the Pompey number nine could only sidefoot the ball wide.

Steve Evans had no answer to the questions being asked for the Pompey defence and it was only some stupidity in the fifth minute of stoppage time that gifted the hosts a lifeline.

Pompey were overconfident going forward as they looked to rub salt in Peterborough's wounds only to lose the ball cheaply and get hit on the break, with both Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke unable to stop Matt Godden scoring.

In the two minutes remaining, Peterborough created one last chance as a long punt upfield led to Siriki Dembele striking the ball straight into the arms of Craig MacGillivray and after that the final whistle confirmed the victory that takes Pompey to the summit of League One.

Pompey's defeat of Peterborough combined with losses for Barnsley, Sunderland and Walsall now also means that the Blues are the only unbeaten team remaining in the division and yesterday's result would have sent a message to the rest of the division.

The entire performance from back to front was exemplary for the most part yesterday. Burgess may have taken some stick for his error last week but he was a rock alongside Clarke against his former club with both heading away any dangerous balls into the box and keeping MacGillivray well protected.

The full backs either side of them did their jobs in nullifying the Posh wingers whilst Naylor, Evans and Close did the dirty work in midfield, even if that meant giving away free kicks to stop the hosts building any momentum.

Pompey's front three are also starting to make a name for themselves and everyone will be delighted for Hawkins to bag the goal his workrate has deserved in recent matches. Whilst Lowe didn't have too many opportunities to test the oppposition defence, he has become a clinical finisher and has come a long way since his debut as a raw talent in January 2017.

And what more can be said of Ronan Curtis? If Pompey looked a shadow of themselves last season without Brett Pitman, then the same can be said for Curtis this campaign. We can only hope his ankle injury sustained courtesy of a nasty challenge by Marcus Maddison isn't too serious and won't keep him out for any period of time.

Pompey fans will undoubtedly enjoy their team being top of the league but Joe Gallen rightly has kept his feet on the ground. There are still 38 games this season to play but it should be worth mentioning that there is now a five point gap between Portsmouth and the play-off places.

Next up is a completely different test as the masters of physical play and gamesmanship in Wycombe Wanderers come to Fratton Park. But this current Pompey team are built for that type of test and should now be looking to take control of League One as autumn sets in.

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 6 - Little to do.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Did a decent job nullifying the Peterborough wingers.

Christian Burgess: 8 - Rock solid for the most part.

Matt Clarke: 8 - Back to his best after subpar showing last week,

Lee Brown: 7 - Is becoming the unsung hero of this team.

Ben Close: 7 - Worked well with Naylor.

Tom Naylor: 7 - Did the dirty work well.

Gareth Evans: 7 - Continues to perform well.

Jamal Lowe: 7 - Clinical up front.

Ronan Curtis: 8 - Quiet first half but did all the damage in the second.

Oli Hawkins: 8 - Peterborough defence couldn't contain him.


Luke McGee

Brandan Haunstrup (Curtis 90): N/A - On for the injured talisman.

Ben Thompson (Close 86): N/A - Brought on to solidify midfield.

Danny Rose

David Wheeler

Joe Mason

Brett Pitman