Pompey failed to extend their unbeaten run on Saturday as Stevenage defeated them at Fratton Park. Poor defending cost the Blues in this match, which saw them fall to a 2-1 defeat, losing ground on the top of the table. Ben Williets reports.
Manager Paul Cook, confident of another win, stuck with the same starting 11 that won against Luton. Things seemed to be going to plan as Portsmouth started brightly. The Blues nearly broke the deadlock after eight minutes, but Kyle Bennett was denied by the post.
Despite a hopeful start, the first half failed to ignite as both sides struggled to create chances. Stevenage were defending very well and Pompey could not deal with their opponent’s physicality. The half fizzled out, much to the Portsmouth faithful’s frustration, and the teams were sent in to the changing rooms with the score at 0-0.
The second half began and the hosts once again looked to get the first goal of the match. Unfortunately for Cook’s side, Stevenage stood firm and dealt with the pressure without too much difficulty.
Conor Chaplin was brought off the bench midway through the second half but fluffed a great opportunity – ballooning the ball in to the stand from close range.
It seemed as though it simply wasn’t Portsmouth’s day, and that became even more apparent in the 71st minute. Portsmouth made a total mess of clearing the ball on the left side of the pitch. Enda Stevens had his pocket picked, as Stevenage slid the ball across the face of the goal and Steven Schumacher did not need a second invitation to put his side in front.
Stevenage were rubbing salt in Portsmouth’s wounds four minutes later as they doubled their lead. Matt Godden had one shot blocked but the ball rebounded straight back to his feet. In acres of space, the attacker picked his spot in the bottom right corner and was quickly celebrating with the Stevenage fans.
With ten minutes left Portsmouth pulled one goal back, restoring hope of a comeback. Michael Smith lashed the ball home after a deep cross was missed by Conor Chaplin. Portsmouth flooded forward in the closing stages but the away side continued to stand firm.
The game ended in defeat for the Blues, leaving fans in the stadium bitterly disappointed. Portsmouth remain in fourth but now find themselves five points adrift of the top three. The Blues will travel to Grimsby next, and will be determined to get back to their winning ways.
Image courtesy of Thom32, Wikipedia.