Sunday Chimes #138 - Pompey reach play-off spots
Pompey 3 Northampton Town 1
Pompey came from behind yesterday afternoon to put themselves firmly in the play off places. It was a strange game but ended up being a straightforward win.
Kenny made three changes Brandon Haunstrup had picked up a knock against AFC Wimbledon and Dion Donohue deputised. Up front Jamal Lowe and Conor Chaplin made way for Oli Hawkins and Matt Kennedy and those changes were to prove their worth as the game unfolded.
The only sad note was the injury picked up in farcical situation during a bounce up to Danny Rose. Nathan Thompson had received treatment for a head injury and referee Lee Swabey decided to give a contested drop-ball. John-Joe O'Toole kicked out at the ball making full contact with Rose and breaking his leg. I do not have any more details but pray that the ex-Cobbler who got a great reception from the visiting contingent is soon mended as his contribution in recent weeks has been immense.
Pompey started well and Hawkins had an early chance after being set up by skipper Pitman. The home side then went of the boil and Town had chances which twice Luke McGee had to snuff out saving from Grimes and collecting a lob from Hoskins. Then on 36 minutes Ben Close was robbed by three players in midfield as Pompey pushed forward and the Cobblers struck with venom and Long was in to beat to McGee.
That might have unsettled some sides but Pompey struck aided by their crowd who had been riled by the antics of several Town players whipping up the atmosphere.
Within five minutes they were level Matt Kennedy cut in from the right and lashed a shot passed Ingram. And then on the stroke of halftime with six minutes added Christian Burgess played a long ball out of defence and Hawkins deftly headed the ball over Ingram from the edge of the area.
Gareth Evans did not come out for the second period with an injury to his right leg - possible hamstring - and Jamal Lowe was on to replace him. Pompey then produced their most impressive attacking display of the season with first Kennedy going close and then Donohue crossing to back-post where Hawkins rose above his marker and powered home his second.
For the next twenty minutes it was only Ingram that stood between Pompey and a cricket score. The saved from Pitman, Hawkins and others and in-between Close hit a post.
That six home wins in a row and with Peterborough being unable to beat nine man MK Dons allow Pompey to surge into the play-off picture with the next two home games against Scunthorpe and Shrewsbury to look forward too.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): McGee; Thompson, Burgess, Clark, Donohue; Close, Rose (May 29); Evans (Lowe 46), Pitman (c) (Chaplin 89), Kennedy; Hawkins
Goals: Kennedy 41, Hawkins 45, 48
Booked: Pitman, Kennedy
Subs not used: Bass, Casey, Bennett, Main
Referee: Lee Swabey
Attendance: 18,539 (538 away fans)
And Joe Gallen was delighted with how potent they looked at Fratton Park after recovering from a first half setback.
Pompey`s assistant manager told the Club`s official site "It wasn`t comfortable when we went one down, but to come back as strongly as we did was impressive. I still believe that we were the better side in the first half, even if Northampton made it hard for us to break them down.
'We need lots of quality and I`m pleased to say we had that in abundance. We needed something and were wondering where that was going to come from, then Matty popped up with a really good strike into the bottom corner. That got us back into the game and from that point on it just seemed like we were creating chance after chance. Oli scored a terrific header from a great diagonal pass by Christian Burgess and there were numerous more opportunities after he had added the third.
"People will look at our home form and try to stifle us, so we need lots of quality and I`m pleased to say we had that in abundance."
Gallen explained: "Danny went to the hospital to have an x-ray and get confirmation, but the opinion of the physio is that it`s likely to be a fracture. That`s a huge disappointment for him and for the team because he`s performed very well in recent weeks.
"Having had a couple of fractures myself, though, it is definitely something that you can come back from reasonably quickly. It just depends how bad it is.
"Gareth went off with an injured hamstring, which is normal enough when you have so many games in a short space of time."
Farewell to 2017
New Year`s Eve has arrived and we prepare to wave goodbye to 2017.
It is a year that will go down in Pompey history alongside 1924, 1949, 1950, 1962, 1983 and 2003 as a year that a League Championship was won. It also meant that Pompey had achieved the full house of all four levels something only four other clubs have managed.
It has been an exciting year for all the right reasons unlike the previous five.
• There was the run to promotion and then the title on the last day of the season.
• The sudden departure of Paul Cook who had turned the Pompey juggernaut round.
• The appointment of Kenny Jackett
• Change of Owership to the Tournante Group
• Rebuilding of the squad
Pompey started the year on the brink of the League Two play-off and ended one League higher - and that is quite some progress despite the criticism of a now rapidly sinking group of 'fans`.
News Year`s Day sees the trip to Bristol Rovers.
It will be the 40th meeting of the clubs stretching back to 1920/21 when the two clubs were admitted to the Football League together. The meetings have been in the lower leagues although between 1990 and 93 both clubs were in the second tier.
Pompey have won 21 of the games and won the last Memorial Ground game in September 2015 2-1 with Gareth Evans and Jayden Stockley scoring.
Happy New Year to you all and wishing you a successful and healthy 2018.