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Pompey 2 Scunthorpe United 1 (HT 1-1)
Pompey: Andersen, Harley, Michalik, Gyepes, Webster, Dumbuya, McLeod, Russell, Williamson, Howard, Thomas. Subs: Eastwood, Obita, Ertl, Compton, Harris, Walker.
Scunthorpe: Slocombe, Newey, Canavan, Mirlin, Ribiero, Duffy, Walker, Prutton, Ryan, Clarke, Hawley. Subs: Severn, Reid, Grella, Barcham, Jennings, Gibbons Sedgwick.
Referee: Andy D'Urso from Essex
Scorers: Gyepes (12 mins) , Thomas (89 mins)
New loan signing Wes Thomas scores the winner for Pompey
It was far from memorable but it's a case of never mind the quality for Pompey after a late goal by debut-making striker Wes Thomas earned them their first home win of the season as they beat Scunthorpe 2-1.
Scunthorpe stunned Fratton by taking the lead just six minutes in. Out of nowhere Jimmy Ryan found space in the box to square to Ryan Clarke, who beat Mikkel Andersen with a low finish.
The Blues were quick to hit back and six minutes later, Gabor Gyepes fired in from a scramble following a Brian Howard corner. Howard missed a penalty and both sides had plenty of chances in a game in which neither defence looked convincing.
But it was Thomas who scored after a corner was only half-cleared - to raise the roof of a Fratton Park which had been flat for most of the afternoon.
Pompey 2 Scunthorpe 1
by Neil Weld at Fratton Park
Wes Thomas scored a late winner on his debut as Pompey finally recorded a first home league win of the season against Scunthorpe.
The Blues had once again found themselves behind early on, courtesy of a goal from the prolific Leon Clarke.
Gabor Gyepes was well-placed to equalise soon after, but substitute stopper James Severn kept out Howard’s spot-kick after Thomas had been fouled.
It looked like Pompey would have to settle for a point, but Thomas’ dramatic close-range finish at the death gave them all three.
Michael Appleton made two changes from the side that were comprehensively beaten at Notts County seven days earlier.
Thomas was handed a place up front just a day after arriving on loan from Bournemouth.
There was also a start for teenager Adam Webster at right-back, with Mustapha Dumbuya moving further forward.
Luke Rodgers missed out with a thigh tear, while Jack Compton dropped to a six-man bench.
Appleton was preaching the importance of scoring the first goal following the loss at Meadow Lane, so will have been furious to see his side fall behind after just six minutes.
It was a soft goal to concede, with Jimmy Ryan pulling the ball back for Clarke to prod home – his fifth goal in as many games for the Iron.
But the Blues were level just six minutes later after Howard and Izale McLeod combined to win a corner.
Howard whipped the ball in and Lubomir Michalik’s firm header was superbly parried clear by Sam Slocombe.
McLeod should have converted the rebound, but missed the ball completely. Fortunately for the striker, GYEPES was on hand to lash it into the roof of the net.
Slocombe was injured in the build-up to the goal and had to be replaced by Severn shortly after.
Pompey could have taken the lead moments later when Lee Williamson’s fine cross-field pass picked out Darel Russell, but the midfielder’s lob went over the crossbar.
Scunthorpe were finding gaps in the home defence, however, and Karl Hawley was left in too much space to collect Clarke’s pass and shoot, forcing Mikkel Andersen to make a decent save low to his left.
Michalik then had to make a fine sliding challenge to prevent Clarke from going one-on-one with Andersen.
It was certainly proving to be an open game and McLeod was next to go close with a superb strike from distance that cannoned back off the crossbar.
Pompey then missed a great chance to forge ahead on 31 minutes after Thomas was clearly tripped by Niall Canavan just inside the box.
Referee Andy D’Urso pointed to the spot, but, although Howard got plenty of power behind his penalty, Severn guessed the right way and pushed the ball clear.
The game continued to flow from end-to-end and the dangerous Clarke fired into the side netting for the visitors on 35 minutes.
Iron right-back Christian Ribeiro then swung in a dangerous cross that Hawley could not quite connect with.
Half Time: Pompey 1 Scunthorpe 1
It was the visitors who looked brighter at the start of the second half and Andersen used his feet to keep out Hawley’s drive, before Clarke curled a shot just past the post.
Appleton decided to make a change on 58 minutes, with Ashley Harris coming on for Jon Harley and taking up position wide on the left.
That caused a reshuffle, as Williamson switched sides, Dumbuya moved to right-back and Webster went across to the left.
The substitute had a chance to score soon after, but he and Thomas got in each other’s way as they tried to meet Dumbuya’s cross and the opportunity was gone.
However, the teenager went closer on 65 minutes, turning and firing in a 25-yard shot that was deflected inches wide.
Pompey were then forced to make another substitution, with Russell limping off injured and replaced by Johnny Ertl.
The versatile Austrian was almost an unlikely hero moments later, but could only prod McLeod’s square ball straight at Severn.
Pompey poured forward in search of a winner, but when Severn kept out Dumbuya’s drive that looked to be it.
However, on 89 minutes Howard swung in a cross from the right and THOMAS bundled home from just a few yards to send Fratton Park wild with delight.
McLeod then slammed a shot against the post deep into stoppage-time, but the Blues had already done enough to secure victory.
Pompey: Andersen; Webster, Michalik, Gyepes, Harley (Harris 58); Dumbuya, Russell (Ertl 67), Howard (c), Williamson; Thomas (Obita 90+2), McLeod
Goals: Gyepes 12, Thomas 89
Subs not used: Eastwood, Walker, Compton
Scunthorpe: Slocombe (Severn 24); Ribeiro (Grella 90+5), Mirfin (c), Canavan, Newey; Duffy (Sedgwick 76), Prutton, Walker, Ryan; Clarke, Hawley
Goals: Clarke 6
Subs not used: Reid, Gibbons, Barcham, Jennings
Referee: Andy D’Urso
Pompey v Scunthorpe: PREVIEWS
PHOTO: Wes Thomas (extreme right) in action for Bournemouth against Pompey earlier this season.
Michael Appleton has brought in the forward on a month’s loan in time to feature against Scunthorpe.
Pompey return to Fratton Park on the back of another defeat, after being soundly beaten by Notts County last time out. Michael Appleton has challenged his side to be braver and finally take a home maximum after one draw and three defeats this season in PO4.
Pompey will be without Luke Rodgers after the striker was ruled out with a thigh strain, he is expected to be out for around three weeks, although some reports claim as many as six weeks.
Defender Josh Thompson is another expected absentee after rolling his ankle in training, fellow defensive partner Gabor Gyepes is still carrying a knock but may play through the pain and accompany Lubomir Michalik once again.
Pompey were rumoured to be making moves for trialists Luis Boa Morte and Akos Buzsaky but it is thought the duo are unlikely to be snapped up in time, if at all.
Scunthorpe travel to Fratton Park hoping to have a completely fit squad – something Michael Appleton could only dream of. Scunny captain Paul Reid and left-back Callum Kennedy are back in training after their respective injuries.
These two sides have met 20 times in all competitions, with Pompey the victors on seven occasions. Scunthorpe have beaten Pompey five times.
The last meeting was a 1-1 draw at Glanford Park in 2011, as David Nugent rescued a late point for a lacklustre Pompey. The Blues had recorded a 2-0 home victory earlier in that season thanks to a rare goal-a-piece from Aaron Mokoena and Dave Kitson.
Scunthorpe have not won at Fratton Park since 1964, and how the Fratton faithful would love that run to continue on Saturday.
Pompey are 21st in the League One table, with 5 points from eight games. Scunthorpe are in eighteenth place with eight points.
Pompey last five (League only) – L W L L L
Scunthorpe last five – L D W D W
Likely Line Ups
Pompey: Andersen; Dumbuya, Gyepes, Michalik, Harley; Compton, Howard, Russell, Obita, Williamson, Walker; McLeod
Scunthorpe: Slocombe; Newey, Mirfin, Riberio, Canavan; Prutton, Walker, Ryan, Duffy; Hawley, Clarke