U's vs Tubbs REVIEW
Attendance: 6,607 (1,866 away)
The ever-consistent following of Pompey fans were rewarded with further consistency on the pitch away from home in yesterday's trip to Cambridge.
The near-2000 watched potentially one of the most eventful encounters of the League Two season that saw goals, mistakes, red cards, moments of madness and official flops. Luckily for the Blues, they continued their fine away record, picking up their 4th win out of 6 on the road this campaign.
The 3-1 win for the Blues not only saw Matt Tubbs improve his fantastic goalscoring record against United (11 in 9), but it was just the reaction the Fratton Faithful were looking for following two disappointing results at Fratton in the week previously. It shouldn't be forgotten that the victory puts Pompey top of the League 2 table, however that seems set to be short-lived, with second place (on goal difference) rivals, Plymouth, in action vs bottom Newport this afternoon at 14:30, Pompey's next opponents.
Pompey stuck with the same side that drew 0-0 at home vs strugglers Yeovil last Saturday, and this seemed a poor decision on 5 minutes when Robbie Simpson raced through on goal and slotted past loanee 'keeper Aaron McCarey. However this was the beginning of the controversy and tension in the clash, with the referee ignoring his assistant's offside flag, giving Cambridge the early lead despite furious Pompey protests.
For the following 10 minutes the game remained in United's favour before Pompey settled into their usual possessive, classy style.
It was obvious Blues boss Paul Cook had his players on the training ground practicing their crossing abilities in the week, as balls flying in from the wing were causing the Cambridge back four some concern. Notably the man I pinpointed in the match preview, Ben Davies, was sending in some particularly dangerous balls (call me a scout or a mastermind, your choice).
Initially, few chances came about for the Blues, most of the cheering being the ironic ones from the travelling supporters when the offside flag was raised. The anti was upped eventually, when Gary Roberts let fly from distance, with his strike flying a yard or so over Cambridge 'keeper Sam Beasant's(son of former Pompey shot-stopper, Dave)bar.
Pompey's patience finally paid off with a decent chance just after the half hour mark, with Roberts knicking the ball away from defender Omozusi and setting up Gareth Evans, only for the winger to waste the opportunity with a shot well wide of the goal.
Pompey continued to press in search of an equaliser, with little success. Yet they were given somewhat a lifeline as the half-time whistle went. After referee Sebastian Stockbridge blew for the interval, handbags were thrown and Cambridge skipper Mark Roberts seemingly shoved McCarey to the floor. As Pompey assistant Leam Richardson took charge and ushered his players down the tunnel, it emerged over the PA system that Roberts had been sent off for his actions and Richardson had also been sent to the stands.
HT: Cambridge 1-0 Pompey
Pompey, as usual, sprung into attacking life following the break, in search of a goal to kickstart the comeback. Kyle Bennett had the first opportunity, yet it seemed the wrong man got on the ball as he headed Enda Steven's cross wide of the goal.
Pompey continued their assault, sending in plenty of crosses and pegging back the U's, who unsurprisingly had set up camp in their own half (as does every team vs Pompey).
An intuitive substitution was made by Cookie shortly after the hour mark, as Adam Webster replaced Matt Clarke, with Pompey shifting to 3 at the back and big centre-back Christian Burgess moving up front in an effort to make one of Pompey's endless crosses count.
10-man Cambridge finally collapsed moments later, with Evans's fine whip converted by United's own Leon Legge. Pressure from Tubbs made social media arrupt thinking Tubbsy had netted once more against the U's, yet the OG was awarded.
Tubbs did not let that go though, completing a marvelous turn around literally seconds later, turning home Roberts' clever square to put the visitor's 2-1 ahead in front of a bemused Cambridge crowd. 2 goals in a minute, one definitely from stirker Matt Tubbs, took Pompey from behind to poll position to gain another victory on the their travels.
Unsurprisingly and sensibly, defender Burgess dropped after a minute's stint up front, to restore Pompey's 4-man back line. Although the defenders had very little to deal with after Pompey went ahead, as the Blues began to settle once more and continue their fine passing play.
The introduction of Kal Naismith seemed inspired though, with the former-Accrington winger blocking a clearance that eventually ricocheted off the cross-bar, dropping nicely for Tubbs to tap home, sealing a Pompey win in bizarre fashion, with moments to go.
The Blues were set to return home with a fine result yet again, but this was made bittersweet after Evans challenged late with studs high on Omozusi. The winger was shown a straight red, despite announcing his intentions of getting the ball and both sides finished the game with 10 men.
FULL TIME: Cambridge 1-3 POMPEY
No full-time scuffles, just solemn handshakes from the hosts and jubilous ones from the travelling management and players.
Pompey have enjoyed their trips to the Abbey, claiming six point out of six in two seasons, scoring 9 goals, and 3 victories out of 3 in total in this season and last. Tubbs as mentioned also like to play the home side, claiming 5 in his last two performances against them.
All round a great result for the Blues, sending us top of the division and showing just the reaction we wanted following the last to results that saw winnable points dropped.
Well done Pompey!
However I think it would be more fair to congratulate the team as a whole on this occasion, as pressure was on to get a win yesterday and they delivered emphatically. Cookie stuck to his guns and it paid off, with another solid performance that could easily boast a clean sheet, whilst also scoring 3.
Now as we sit top of the pile for the time being, over to you, Plymouth. Knock us down if you can, we're on the up.
PLAY UP POMPEY! POMPEY PLAY UP!