MATCH REPORT: PORTSMOUTH 1, STEVENAGE 2
Stevenage made it four away wins on the bounce in Sky Bet League 2 with a brilliant 2-1 win at Portsmouth this afternoon.
After a goalless first half, Boro broke the deadlock with two goals in five minutes through Steve Schumacher and Matt Godden. Michael Smith drilled home for Portsmouth with 10 minutes remaining to setup a nervy finale, but Boro proved again why they are a hard nut to crack by seeing out that time with relative ease.
Darren Sarll made just the one change from the Accrington win with Henry Cowans coming in for Harry McKirdy, who dropped to the bench.
Boro arrived looking to make it four consecutive league wins on the road but for the opening 10 minutes it was about standing firm as Pompey created the best of the early chances.
With a couple of minutes on the clock Bennett evaded Cowans down the left and crossed but Michael Smith couldn’t connect, whilst Smith himself blazed over on 7 minutes after cutting onto his right foot from 20 yards.
The hosts’ closest chance of the half came 60 seconds later through the lively Kyle Bennett, who collected possession 25 yards out, turned and shot over Jones but the ball cannoned back off the far post and away.
That seemed to shake Boro into life who enjoyed the best of the next 10 minutes as they came into the game. A great run down the left by Kennedy saw the youngster win a free-kick near the corner flag. Schumacher’s initial delivery was cleared only as far as Cowans whose half-volley was charged down.
On 14 minutes Godden’s neat header found King deep into the Pompey half and his pass into Kennedy’s path saw the Northern Irish U21 international fire at goal with a first-time shot, only for David Forde to save.
Kyle Bennett headed straight at Jones and from his resulting goal-kick, Godden latched onto the bouncing ball and saw a first-time shot stopped again by Forde.
Portsmouth continued to press as the half progressed, winning a series of corners and creating a number of dangerous scenarios but Boro defended well with Jamie Jones commanding and his team-mates working together to clear danger.
After a goalless first half, Dean Wells replaced Luke Wilkinson for the start of the second. Pompey also made a double-sub, perhaps the best sign yet that Boro were really frustrating their hosts.
Kyle Bennett stung the palms of Jamie Jones from 18 yards on 53 minutes as Portsmouth threatened to make the breakthrough but rather than sit back and let Paul Cook’s men dictate, Boro were constantly at their opponents and not giving them a moment’s rest.
Harry McKirdy came on for Dale Gorman on the hour and three minutes later won a free-kick 25 yards out, which Schumacher floated just over the bar.
Connor Chaplin fired just wide on 68 minutes, however soon afterwards Boro broke the deadlock. Again it was the excellent work up top by Godden and Kennedy that forced a defensive mistake just to the side of the Pompey box, with Kennedy bundling through and laying it back for Steve Schumacher to fire a low drive past Forde into the back of the net.
Portsmouth pushed forward from the kick-off but with the pace of McKirdy, trickery of Kennedy and workrate of Godden, Boro were a real threat on the counter and soon doubled their lead on 74 minutes. Matt Godden it was, seeing his first effort blocked by a defender but recovering first to finish low into the far corner for 2-0.
Pompey were rocked and went close through Gary Roberts, but gave themselves a lifeline on 80 minutes when Michael Smith drilled home after Boro failed to clear a cross from the right.
Roberts fired wide from 20 yards and a late, late header bounced back off the post as Boro endured some nervy moments, but Darren Sarll’s men saw out the remaining 10 minutes and four minutes of injury time expertly to record their most impressive win on the road this season.
Portsmouth: Forde, Stevens, Rose, Clarke, Burgess (Whatmough 46), Baker, Doyle (Linganzi 46), Smith, Roberts, Bennett (Chaplin 67), Evans
Subs not used: O’Brien, Lalkovic, Hunt, Naismith
Stevenage: Jones, Henry, Wilkinson (Wells 46), Franks, Ntlhe, Gorman (McKirdy 60), Schumacher (Lee70), King, Cowans, Kennedy, Godden
Subs not used: Day, McAnuff, Pett, Tonge
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 15,987 (277 away)