Pompey 1 Southend 0: A game of two moments, not halves
Saturday, 18th Nov 2017 20:26 by pompey-fans.com staff
Same team, same result. Kenny Jackett kept faith with the Pompey side who won at Blackpool a week ago - and his reward was a second straight win as the Blues beat Southend in a well-contested tussle at a cold, grey Fratton Park.
Two moments decided the game - a Southend penalty that should never have been awarded but was missed anyway; and a moment of quality in the air in front of goal by top scorer and captain Brett Pitman.
Jackett resisted the temptation to restore free-from-suspension duo Nathan Thompson and Stuart O'Keefe to the starting line-up, keeping the same starting line-up who'd won at Bloomfield Road.
After some pre-match events and a brief silence in honour of last week's Armistice Day, the match began at a fast pace. Pompey were the brightest team early on and Brett Pitman and Christian Burgess were each close to an early opener.
Luke McGee did not have the busiest afternoon but did have to be at his best to leap tp push a curling Theo Robinson shot to safety.
A Kyle Bennett header - yes a header - had to be cleared off the line and Ben Close, his confidence boosted by his first Pompey goal last week, tried his luck with a shot that keeper Mark Oxley had to be alert to.
Southend were awarded what seemed to most in the ground a preposterous penalty at the end of the first half. It was given by the linesman for handball by Matt Clarke after the defender flung himself in the way of a Southend shot in a period of play that had also seen Danny Rose dive to head another effort away from danger.
Protests from Pompey's players and fans fell on deaf ears, of course, but Nile Ranger saw that justice was served by sending an awful penalty flying over McGee's bar. That brought the biggest cheer of the afternoon and set the Blues up for a second half in which they would prevail.
Nine minutes into the second period came the goal. Sub Matt Kennedy worked space on the left to send a cross into the box and Pitman rose majestically above his marker to glance a header beyond Oxley and into the corner of the net.
There was a nice minute's applause in memory of fan Gary Martin, and after that, although Southend caused one or two moments of alarm among a noisy home support, it was Pompey who looked most likely to get the game's next goal.
One superb defence-splitting pass by Kal Naismith played Jamal Lowe in down the right but his first-time cross was far from perfect for Pitman. Kennedy and Pitman himself had half-chances but in the end, that elusive second goal was not needed.
The three points moved Pompey into the top ten - they've now won eight and lost eight of their 18 games, and not since August 26 have they drawn.
They wouldn't mind a share of the spoils at Peterbrough, in all honesty, as long as they then followed that with another home win next Saturday, when 23rd-placed Plymouth are in town.
Pompey: McGee; Evans, Hawkins, Burgess, Clarke; Close, Rose; Lowe (Thompson 87), Bennett (Kennedy 46), Naismith; Pitman. Subs not used: Bass, Donohue, O’Keefe, Chaplin, Main
Referee: Carl Boyeson
Attendance: 18,431 (1,422 away fans)
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