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Stevenage 2 Pompey 1
by Neil Weld at the Lamex Stadium
Pompey conceded two sloppy goals to end their unbeaten run on a misty night in Stevenage.
Filipe Morais was left unmarked to head the hosts ahead early on, although the Blues drew level through Jon Harley’s fine strike.
Pompey then looked like they might go on to claim all three points, but instead left with nothing as no-one was able to prevent Morais’ cross from swinging straight into the net.
Michael Appleton made one change from the side that beat Shrewsbury on Saturday, with Carl Dickinson making his second Blues debut in place of Mustapha Dumbuya at left-back.
Both sides started the game with an attacking intent, although neither keeper was tested in the opening stages.
It was Boro’s Steve Arnold that was first called into action on 10 minutes, but he was not overly troubled by Akos Buzsaky’s 30-yard free-kick.
The keeper then comfortably held Lee Williamson’s cleanly-struck volley after Brian Howard’s corner had only been half cleared.
But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock on 14 minutes as Lucas Akins swung in a cross from the right, leaving a completely unmarked Morais to stoop and head home.
Pompey tried to hit back, but Izale McLeod could not find the target after Arnold had spilled another Buzsaky free-kick.
Stevenage’s wide players were causing plenty of havoc and Lubomir Michalik was forced to make a fine last-gasp challenge to prevent Marcus Haber from reaching David Gray’s dangerous low cross on 29 minutes.
The play quickly switched to the other end of the pitch where a sliding Wes Thomas could not quite connect with McLeod’s pass at the far post.
Pompey’s noisy bunch of travelling fans – who filled the stand behind one goal – were keeping their side going.
The travelling support were almost rewarded on 39 minutes when Harley picked out Thomas, but the striker’s shot was deflected behind.
Pompey went even closer moments later as Thomas, Williamson and Buzsaky (twice) were all denied with the ball pinging about the Boro box.
But the Blues almost went in two goals behind as Morais spotted Mikkel Andersen off his line, only for his lob to dip narrowly over.
Half Time: Stevenage 1 Pompey 0
Appleton made a change at the start of the second half with Dumbuya replacing Buzsaky on the right side of midfield.
Pompey were almost handed an equaliser immediately after the restart when Thomas capitalised on Bondz N’Gala’s poor back-pass.
The striker rounded Arnold and slid the ball goalwards, but Stevenage skipper Mark Roberts got back in time to clear off the line.
Pompey were level on 51 minutes, however, thanks to a goal from an unlikely source.
HARLEY had last scored exactly three years ago with a goal for Watford, but he looked a seasoned striker with a drilled shot from 30 yards that flew into the bottom corner.
The Blues suddenly looked dangerous and pushed on in search of another goal, but they were dealt a blow on the hour mark.
Brian Howard was penalised for a foul on Darius Charles and received a fifth booking of the season from referee Andy Woolmer – ruling him out of next Monday’s trip to former club Sheffield United.
And things got even worse for the visitors as they conceded another poor goal, with Morais’ cross from the left curling straight into the net without anyone getting a touch.
Pompey tried to hit back, but Stevenage’s resistance was strong and their defenders made brave blocks to keep out Dumbuya’s strike and two follow-up efforts from Johnny Ertl.
And despite trying their best to breach Boro’s back-line, the Blues were unable to keep their fine form going.
Stevenage: Arnold; Gray, N’Gala, Roberts (c), Charles; Dunne (Grant 67), Tansey; Akins (Rogers 90), Morais, Freeman (Risser 81); Haber
Goals: Morais 14, 61
Subs not used: Day, Iro, Shroot, Lopez
Pompey: Andersen; Williamson, Michalik, Gyepes, Dickinson; Buzsaky (Dumbuya 46), Ertl, Howard (c), Harley; Thomas, McLeod
Goals: Harley 51
Booked: Howard, Dickinson
Subs: Eastwood, Thompson, Walker, Compton, Harris, Rodgers
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Pompey have no more tickets remaining for Tuesday night’s League One trip to Stevenage.
The Blues have sold out their initial allocation of 500 seats.
A further 400 tickets will be available to buy (cash only) at the Lamex Stadium away turnstiles on the evening of the game.
Seats are priced £23 for adults, £20 for seniors (60+), £16 for under 21s and £12 for under 12s.
The match kicks-off at 7.45pm.
Stevenage v Pompey : PREVIEW Posted by kylewhitworth
Pompey head to the Lamex Stadium to face high flying Stevenage in this midweek fixture. Michael Appleton’s men have taken 13 points from a possible 15, going unbeaten in five matches. His counterpart Gary Smith has led Stevenage to an early promotion charge and will be keen to continue this form at home to the Blues.
Pompey will be without Adam Webster who has joined the England under 18 squad, but are likely to field Carl Dickinson who arrived on loan on Monday. The defender previously played at Fratton Park under Steve Cotterill.
Darel Russell is still absent, but Michael Appleton has no new injury concerns.
Stevenage have a full compliment to choose from, including Robbie Rodgers who made a successful return from injury against the MK Dons.
Pompey and Stevenage have only ever faced each other once, goals from Nadir Cifti and Michael Brown secured victory for the Blues in a 2010 league cup fixture at the Lamex.
Pompey are currently placed 11th in league one with 18 points from their 13 games, while Stevenage are second placed with 26 points from their fixtures.
Pompey last five (league only) – W W D W W
Stevenage – D W W L W
Pompey – Andersen, Dumbuya, Michalik, Gyepes, Dickinson, Harley, Williamson, Howard, Ertl, McLeod, Thomas
Stevenage – Arnold, Gray, Charles, Roberts, Ngala, Tansey, Dunne, Morais, Haber, Akins, Freeman
Stevenage vs Portsmouth Preview By Jim Bonner
Pompey face their toughest test yet.
Pompey face a difficult task to keep the recent excellent run of results going with a trip to Broadhall Way tomorrow evening.
Carl Dickinson is pencilled in to make his second debut for Pompey as Adam Webster is absent on England U-18 duty. Darel Russell is still injured but otherwise Michael Appleton has a full squad to choose from.
Stevenage midfielder Anthony Grant returns after serving his suspension but Patrick Aygemang is unlikely to feature as he is still building his fitness.
Pompey's good form is going to be put to the test at Stevenage tomorrow. Whilst Boro may play in a stadium that wouldn't look out of place in the conference, they are currently riding high in second place in League One.
This is mainly due to having a misly defence that doesn't give much away but also having the knack to pinch a goal and win tight games. Their 1-0 win at MK Dons on Saturday has surely confirmed them as promotion contenders.
However, Gary Smith's side will be up against one of the most in-form strike forces in the division. Izale McLeod is now the joint-top scorer in the division with eight goals whilst Wes Thomas is proving to be the perfect foil for him and has also found the net in Pompey's last two games.
The midfield also finally looks to have gelled together and is capable of creating plenty of chances. The only concern is that this team still only look capable of playing for 45 minutes after a poor first half against Shrewsbury on Saturday and the lack of pace at the back is still a concern, something that Dickinson's arrival will not remedy.
Still, I feel that Pompey can get a result at Broadhall Way. Colchester managed it so we should follow suit.
Predicted Starting Line-Ups
GK: Steve ARNOLD
RB: David GRAY
CB: Darius CHARLES
CB: Mark ROBERTS
LB: Bondz N'GALA
RM: Lucas AKINS
CM: James DUNNE
CM: Luke FREEMAN
CM: Greg TANSEY
LM: Filipe MORAIS
CF: Marcus HABER
GK: Mikkel ANDERSEN
RB: Mustapha DUMBUYA
CB: Gabor GYEPES
CB: Lubor MICHALIK
LB: Carl DICKINSON
RM: Lee WILLIAMSON
CM: Johnny ERTL
CM: Brian HOWARD
LM: Akos BUZSAKY
CF: Izale McLEOD
CF: Wes THOMAS
Stevenage 1 Portsmouth 2 (League Cup First Round - 09/08/2010)
Nadir Ciftci gave Pompey an early lead after he headed in Matt Ritchie's cross but Darren Murphy equalised when his shot was deflected past Jamie Ashdown by Joel Ward.
Michael Brown's diving header restored Portsmouth's lead and Steve Cotterill's men safely navigated the rest of the game with little discomfort.
Stevenage lost their last home game against Colchester and their previous result at Broadhall Way was a 2-2 draw with lowly Bury. On the other hand, their last two wins were at MK Dons and Notts County and so I will plump for a draw.
Stevenage 1 Portsmouth 1