Football: Pompey Push Through a Tough Week

Portsmouth notched up four points from a possible six from two difficult away fixtures this week. The Blues drew with Cheltenham 1-1 on Saturday and followed this result by claiming all three points away to Luton in a 3-1 win. Ben Williets reports.  

Against Cheltenham, the Blues struggled to convert their chances throughout the match and it seemed like they would be leaving Whaddon Road empty handed.

The first half started in lively fashion, with both sides carving out chances but failing to find the back of the net. Cheltenham had a penalty appeal waved away by the referee. Both sides began the match showing clear attacking intent. However, this soon died down and the half ended with neither team scoring, 0-0.

Pompey started the second half on top, creating several wonderful chances only to be denied by the goalkeeper and the frame of the goal. The hosts also created opportunities, and Portsmouth were lucky not to be 1-0 down after an hour as Cheltenham attacker, Danny Wright, fired over from close range.

Cheltenham broke the deadlock in the 65th minute. A free-kick swung the ball deep into the penalty area. Portsmouth failed to deal with the ball and it fell kindly to Daniel O’Shaughnessy who swept it home.

The Blues continued to press but could not break Cheltenham down. However, this all changed in the 82nd minute. A low cross from the right side fumbled by the goalkeeper fell into the path of substitute Michael Smith who gratefully accepted the gift and Portsmouth evened up.

But ultimately, and despite the best efforts of both teams, this match ended level, like previous meetings between these two sides.

Three days later Portsmouth travelled to Luton for a game under the lights, hopeful to build on the point at Cheltenham. But it took only seven minutes for their hopes to be dashed as Luton took the lead and sent a wake up call to the Blues. A cross came in from the left and Danny Hylton headed the ball perfectly in to the top left corner.

Portsmouth were rocked, but not for long. 4 minutes later Michael Smith rolled the ball in to the bottom corner without taking a touch, from 20 yards out.

The match had real attacking flair and brought to mind an old-fashioned cup tie. However, in stoppage time at the end of the first half, Portsmouth whipped in a dangerous corner which left their hosts struggling. The ball landed at Evan’s feet and he hooked it home to send his side into the break with the lead.

Pompey started the second half as they finished the first, threatening Luton with a series of attacks. Though Luton stood firm, so did the Blues, quelling any danger of an equaliser.

Then, in the 85th minute, Kal Naismith found space for himself in the Luton penalty area and steered the ball past the goalkeeper to deliver three points. Luton failed to revive hope of a comeback in the closing stages, and the travelling Portsmouth faithful went home happy.

The two results keep Portsmouth in 4th, two points off Doncaster in 3rd. The Blues are now unbeaten in 4 league games, winning three of them, and will look to extend this lead when they face Stevenage at Fratton Park this weekend. Report to follow.