Early Goal Earns Pompey Points
Pools slumped to a fourth successive League Two defeat as Portsmouth eased their relegation fears with a 1-0 victory over Colin Cooper’s men at Fratton Park.
Pompey were playing on home soil for the first time since Andy Awford replaced Richard Barker in the hotseat and on this evidence it is a popular decision with the fans who were loudly backed their team from the off.
With a vocal support behind them it was clearly the hosts’ plan to unsettle Pools early on – but even Awford could not have dreamed of a better start to the afternoon’s proceedings.
The game was barely a minute old when a deep free kick from the left was headed towards goal by Ryan Taylor ; Andy Rafferty went full-length to make a finger-tip save but Adam Webster was on the spot to convert the rebound from close range.
Two minutes later the crowd had more reason to turn the volume up when Wes Fogden was caught by a clumsy challenge from Christian Burgess and the referee was well-placed to award a penalty.
Ryan Taylor – who had scored from the spot in Pompey’s win at Newport last weekend – was this time found wanting as Andy Rafferty hurled himself to his right to produce a wonderful low save and Ricky Holmes blasted the rebound too high.
The tempo of the start finally started to wane as Pools made a rare foray in to home territory for Jack Barmby to curl a sighter just wide of the far post from the right corner of the box.
Portsmouth were continuing to do more of the threatening attacking though and James Poole had to block well to stop Danny Hollands’ determined run and shot, before Rafferty did well to save from Bondz N’Gala from the resultant corner.
Pools began the second half in brighter fashion with the introduction of Lewis Hawkins, and when he knocked the ball through to Luke James the front man spun away down the right and fed a dangerous ball in to the front post which the hosts did well to clear.
Darren Holden’s long free-kick threatened to wrong-foot Trevor Carson as it bounced through the area but the keeper clung to it as it looped just under his cross bar.
Webster could have added a second goal for the hosts when he held off the attentions of Barmby on the edge of the area but his shot lacked the venom to test Rafferty who held it comfortably.
The Pools keeper was in confident mood and he showed his bravery to dive at the feet of the dangerous Holmes as the Pompey winger threated to run in behind.
Rafferty looked as though he was enjoying himself and showing good reactions and handling again when he gathered in substitute Rhys McCabe’s inviting front post cross from the right.
At the other end Pools were struggling to build any momentum, the closest they came was when N’Gala misjudged a header and it looped menacingly towards his own goal before Carson retreated to collect.
Six minutes of injury time heralded some mild panic in the Portsmouth rearguard as Pools forced a couple of late corners, but N’Gala and the impressive Whatmough held firm to clear all that was thrown at them.
Full Time: Portsmouth 1 Pools 0
Portsmouth: Carson, Webster, N’Gala, Whatmough, Shorey, Ferry (McCabe 69), Hollands, Wallace, Fogden (Ertl 79), Holmes (Drennan 92), Taylor.
Subs not used: Smith, Devera, Bradley, Jervis.
Pools: Rafferty, Duckworth, Collins, Burgess (Harrison 79), Holden, Compton (Hawkins 46), Walker, Walton, Barmby (Franks 64), Poole, James.
Subs not used: Richards, Oliver, Jones, Rowbotham.
15,273 (187 Poolies)Attendance: