Football: Pompey Pass the Cambridge Test

Our new football reporter Ben Williets looks back at a recent but somewhat unexciting Pompey victory over Cambridge that included a moving tribute to local fan, Gary Martin.

Portsmouth recorded a priceless 1-0 victory away at Cambridge on October 29th, moving within touching distance of the top three, and seeing Conor Chaplin score his fifth goal of the season. Chaplin was on the end of a deep cross from Pompey defender Christian Burgess in the 24th minute, looping the header past the Cambridge goalkeeper.

The game was far from exciting, and became extremely tough for the Blues as they were reduced to ten men with 30 minutes still to play, Amine Linganzi given his marching orders for a rash lunge on his opponent.

Pompey stood firm and defended well, hanging on to their lead, claiming all three points to stay in the promotion race.

Pompey manager Paul Cook made only one change from the defeat to Notts County, bringing in Matt Clarke at centre back, replacing Tom Davies.

Neither set of fans had anything to shout about in the opening stages of the match. The hosts struggled to carve any real chances, and although Portsmouth broke free a couple of times, their attacks petered out before gathering any momentum. A half-chance fell to skipper Michael Doyle on the edge of the box but the midfielder completely mistimed his strike and missed the ball entirely – much to the amusement of the Cambridge fans.

But in the 24th, Burgess found some space just inside the Cambridge half on the right side, and swung a long, deep cross into the box. In-form Chaplin attacked the ball with purpose, beating the defender in the air, and looping the ball over the United stopper.

The Blues continued to apply pressure throughout the first half, however could not create many chances. Will Norris, the Cambridge ‘keeper, was only forced to make one save following a futile effort from Kyle Bennett.

The second half looked to be following the same pattern as the first, with neither team doing anything to excite the fans.

There was a moment of unity from both home and away fans in the 53rd minute as the whole stadium rose to applaud Portsmouth fan Gary Martin who tragically died in an accident on 26th October. He would have been 53 years old on match day.

The hosts began to push for an equaliser, creating a couple of half-chances which Portsmouth dealt with. However, the Blues made things incredibly hard for themselves when Linganzi lunged at his opponent with both feet, warranting a straight red card with half an hour left to play. Portsmouth defended resiliently for the rest of the match, successfully dealing with all Cambridge attacks and managing to cling on to the win, moving to within three points of the automatic promotion places.

Pompey failed to deliver even a narrow win as they faced Wycombe on November 5th in the FA Cup at Fratton Park, leaving disappointed with a 2-1 defeat. More to follow.