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Tuesday October 23, 2012 7:45 PM
Stevenage Town Football Club, Stevenage, England (map)
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