Portsmouth 2 - 0 Hull City
If the defeat against Coventry was Pompey's ejection from Last Chance Saloon, tonight's match against Hull City was the equivalent of trying to argue with the bouncer to regain access, despite falling over, slurring our words and reeking of Bourbon.
Pompey made one change to the team that had started the last 3 games, and a surprising change it was with Ricardo Rocha being replaced by the debuting Karim Rekik. The Dutch Under 17 international started at left back, with Halford moving into the centre and Ben Haim moving to his favour right back slot.
The match started rather tentatively, with neither team creating much coming forward in the opening 10 minutes, but as the half progressed the home team started to get on top, with Varney failing to convert the first real opportunity.
Pompey continued to pile on the pressure and were rewarded 20 minutes in when Scott Allen's long ball found Chris Maguire who from a tight angle produced an exquisite lob to beat Vito Mannone, the first time Fratton Park had seen the Blues score a first half goal since the start of December.
After waiting 405 minutes for a first half goal, Pompey only had to wait another 4 for their next, when Allen's corner found its way George Thorne, who in turn put the ball on a plate for Joel Ward, who duly obliged by finding the corner and doubling Pompey's lead.
Hull weren't planning on sitting back however, and responded aggressively creating several opportunities. However Jamie Ashdown was on top form to keep out Matty Fryatt's shot, and minutes later it was debutant Karim Rekik who chipped in with a terrific block to ensure Pompey's lead was in tact as the players marched off at half-time.
The second half started equally as slowly as the first, and it was the visitors who started to look like they would find their way back into the game by keeping possession and passing the ball around well. However they failed to create any opportunities of note during this period and the momentum started to swing back in favour of the Blues.
If Hull were going to find their way back into the match it would be thanks to their keeper Mannone, who thrice thwarted Pompey within 10 minutes, with Norris, Ward and Maguire all cursing the Tiger's 'keeper.
But as the game entered its closing stages the hosts continued their dominance, with Maguire miscuing when he looked certain to score and substitute Kelvin Etuhu taking a bit too long after making an 60 yard run. This run was eclipsed minutes later by a streaker who ran the length of the pitch and then some, showing some neat footwork to evade several stewards for a good 90 seconds, eventually being reprimanded after a magnificent tackle (by the steward, not the streaker).
Maguire had one final chance to put the icing on the cake after a fine free flowing move but his shot flashed just wide of the post. As the final whistle sounded chants of 'We are staying up' reverberated around the old ground and maybe, just maybe, they have a case, especially now that we are off the bottom after Doncaster drew at Selhurst Park.
With 7 games to play, Portsmouth are just 3 points of safety and have a much superior goal difference to all those around us, and if we continue to play like we did against Hull 'The Greatest Escape' may be much more than a pipe dream. Bring on Burnley!
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