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League 1 Fixture
Pompey 1 Yeovil 2
by Neil Weld at Fratton Park
A second-half fightback failed to stop Pompey from slipping to yet another defeat.
The Blues were woeful in the first half and, once again, it was their failure to deal with set-pieces that cost them.
Dominic Blizzard and Byron Webster both took advantage of some generous defending to fire Yeovil into a comfortable interval lead.
Pompey were much better after the break but the impressive Benson’s second goal in as many games was the most they could muster.
Guy Whittingham made five changes from the side that were beaten by Crawley on Boxing Day.
Adam Webster came in for the suspended Jon Harley at left-back, while Lubomir Michalik replaced the injured Gabor Gyepes in the centre of defence.
There were also starts for Liam Walker, Lee Williamson and Izale McLeod, with Johnny Ertl, Scott Allan and Nathaniel Mendez-Laing all dropping to the bench.
Pompey made a bright start and tested their opponents with a couple of dangerous balls into the box.
But it was Yeovil’s Ed Upson who went close to breaking the deadlock on 11 minutes, firing inches past the post from the edge of the box.
A terrible throw from Simon Eastwood was then intercepted by Gavin Williams, but the winger sent his lob over the crossbar.
The Glovers were ahead moments later, however, as Pompey conceded yet another soft goal from a set-piece.
Webster failed to properly head clear Jamie McAllister’s free-kick, allowing Blizzard to roll a shot into the bottom corner.
Dumbuya immediately tried to level things up with an audacious lob from wide on the right, but the ball landed on the roof of the net.
Pompey’s afternoon got even worse on 33 minutes when McLeod picked up his fifth booking of the season for dissent, ruling him out of the trip to Swindon on New Year’s Day.
But Eastwood stopped things deteriorating further, flying across goal to palm over McAllister’s curling free-kick from distance.
The respite was brief, however, as another McAllister free-kick was not properly dealt with and Webster’s over-head effort was deflected past a wrong-footed Eastwood.
Pompey finally looked dangerous just before the break when Mustapha Dumbuya embarked on a surging run through the centre.
The right-back laid the ball off for the advancing Walker on the left, but his fierce strike narrowly cleared the crossbar.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Yeovil 2
Whittingham made two changes at the start of the second half, bringing on Allan and Ashley Harris for Brian Howard and McLeod.
But it was still the visitors looking more likely to score and Eastwood did well to parry Paddy Madden’s drive over the bar.
Pompey suddenly came alive, however, and reduced the deficit with a well-worked goal on 54 minutes.
Walker’s dangerous cross from the right was cut back across the face of goal by Webster, giving BENSON a simple close-range finish.
The hosts were in ascendancy and it might have got even better if Benson had been able to connect with another fine ball from Walker.
Pompey kept pushing forward and substitute Johnny Ertl forced Marek Stech into action when he met Allan’s corner on 68 minutes.
But despite the Blues dominating possession, the Glovers keeper was being well protected by resolute back four.
Stech was at his best to deny Benson on 83 minutes, though, diving to his left to keep out the striker’s effort from close range.
Pompey continued to press and Darel Russell let fly with a fierce low drive from distance that crept inches past the post.
The best chance to salvage a point arrived in the final minute of normal time, but Michalik’s header clipped the post and Russell blazed the loose ball over.
But despite a much-improved second half performance, the Blues were unable to end a on a high note.
Pompey: Eastwood; Dumbuya, Michalik, Rocha (Ertl 65), Webster; Williamson, Russell, Howard (c) (Allan 46), Walker; Benson, McLeod (Harris 46)
Goals: Benson 54
Booked: Michalik, McLeod, Webster, Rocha
Subs not used: Smith, Wallace, Mendez-Laing
Yeovil: Stech; Ayling, Hinds, Webster, Burn; Williams, Blizzard, Upson, McAllister (c); Hayter, Madden (Ugwu 90+3)
Goals: Blizzard 14, Webster 38
Booked: Hayter, Williams
Subs not used: Stewart, Agbo, Brundle, Reid
Referee: Fred Graham
Yeovil Match On
Pompey’s League One clash with Yeovil will go ahead this afternoon (3pm kick-off) following an 8am pitch inspection.
Heavy rain earlier in the week put the match in doubt, but referee Fred Graham was happy with the Fratton Park surface.
He said: “Obviously the pitch has been affected by the recent heavy rain, but there’s no standing water and the surface isn’t dangerous.
“I’ll take another look at the pitch at midday, but we always do that as standard.”
The Yeovil Files by Josh Bell
Pompey have won just five league games in the opening half of the 2012/13 campaign.
But Saturday’s visit from Yeovil gives them the opportunity to end the year with a first ‘double’ of the season.
The Blues recorded back-to-back triumphs when they won 2-1 at Huish Park at the start of October, courtesy of goals from Izale McLeod and Gabor Gyepes
But that victory must seem like a lifetime ago for long-suffering Pompey fans, who have seen their side sink into the relegation places following a 10-match winless league run.
Back then, Yeovil were in the midst of their own barren run and defeat against the Blues was their sixth in succession.
Their form has improved since, however, and the Glovers currently sit 12th in League One – comfortably clear of the drop zone and only a couple of wins shy of the play-off places.
Gary Johnson’s side have also reached the area semi-finals in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, where they will face Leyton Orient next month.
A top-six finish might ultimately prove out of Yeovil’s reach, but they will be eager to end in the top half of the table – a feat they have only managed once since winning promotion to the third tier in 2005.
Pompey fans will probably want to forget their side’s 4-2 defeat at Carlisle back in August, but one of the scorers that day was Paddy Madden.
The Irishman has since moved on loan to Yeovil, scoring a further seven goals for the Somerset club.
That is two less than top scorer James Hayter, who arrived at Huish Park over the summer after leaving Doncaster.
At the other end of the pitch, Czech keeper Marek Stech – a July arrival from West Ham – has also impressed.
Pompey’s trip to Huish Park earlier in the season is the only time the sides have previously met competitively, although their have been plenty of friendly fixtures down the years.
And the Blues will be hoping to pick up where they left off against the Glovers to end 2012 on a high.
GOALS SCORED THIS SEASON
GOALS CONCEDED THIS SEASON
TOP SCORER THIS SEASON
Pompey: Izale McLeod (11)
Yeovil: James Hayter (9)
MOST ASSISTS THIS SEASON
Pompey: Brian Howard (6)
Yeovil: Edward Upson (9)
MOST SHOTS THIS SEASON
Pompey: Izale McLeod (63)
Yeovil: Edward Upson (43)
SHOTS ON TARGET THIS SEASON
SHOTS OFF TARGET THIS SEASON
HIT WOODWORK THIS SEASON
AVERAGE LEAGUE ATTENDANCE AT FRATTON PARK
POMPEY HOME LEAGUE FORM
YEOVIL AWAY LEAGUE FORM