Connolly Goals Sees Pompey Win Again
Portsmouth 1 Tranmere Rovers 0
Pompey narrowly but deservedly beat Tranmere at Fratton Park today to extend their good run of form and keep hopes of avoiding a points deduction next season alive.
There was a couple of surprises in the starting eleven as Sam Sodje replaced Ricardo Rocha and Jack Maloney made his first start for Pompey at the expense of Liam Walker. The side didn't suffer as a result, as Sodje was arguably the best player on the pitch and Maloney did well at times.
The game itself wasn't a great spectacle in all honesty, especially the first half. Pompey did most of the probing but were guilty of overplaying the ball around the box whilst Tranmere barely threatened expect for a cross-cum-shot that Simon Eastwood had to tip over the bar.
The half sprung to life in the last five minutes after an unmarked David Connolly missed a sitter from close range after being perfectly teed up by Patrick Agyemang.
Jed Wallace fired into the side netting soon after and then Agyemang saw his shot go just wide after he burst through the Tranmere defence on the stroke of half time.
Pompey began the second half slugglishly but took the lead against the run of play when Yassin Moutaouakil ran down the right flank to the byline and crossed the ball for Connolly who tapped the ball home.
There were chances to extend the lead later in the scrappy match when Therry Racon, Johnny Ertl and Liam Walker all had shots from outside the box which either narrowly missed the target or were saved.
Ronnie Moore's men did pile on some pressure late in the match to get the nerves jangling but a resolute Portsmouth rearguard saw out any danger to ensure their team won again.
This victory wasn't as sublime as the win against Coventry but it proves that this team have what it takes to dig in, keep organised and have enough quality to grind out results. Moutaouakil and Racon probably had their best games in a Pompey shirt since joining whilst Sodje has redeemed himself after his stupidity at Oldham.
Which brings me nicely onto the probablity of finishing outside the bottom four.
There are three teams that Pompey can realistically catch: Scunthorpe, Oldham and Colchester. Pompey are three points behind the former two teams but Scunthorpe have a game in hand whilst Oldham still have nine extra points to play for and a superior goal difference.
Colchester also have a game in hand but are six points ahead of Portsmouth, who only have twelve points left to play for.
Avoiding the points deduction is still very unlikely but at least Pompey fans know that the players representing their club are doing all they can to make it possible.
Pompey Player Ratings
Simon Eastwood: 6 - Well protected by his defense.
Yassin Moutaouakil: 8 - Got forward with purpose and defended very well.
Gabor Gyepes: 7 - Solid showing has become the norm for him now.
Sam Sodje: 7 - Strong performance justified selection.
Shaun Cooper: 7 - Much improved from last week.
Jed Wallace: 7 - Excellent on the ball.
Therry Racon: 7 - Battled hard.
Johnny Ertl: 6 - Outshone by his central midfield partner for a change.
Jack Maloney: 6 - Did OK on his debut.
Patrick Agyemang: 7 - A handful once again and will be missed against Stevenage on Saturday.
David Connolly: 7 - Clever play and scored an easy goal after missing a sitter in the first half.
Ricardo Rocha (Sodje 81): N/A - Slotted in seamlessly.
Liam Walker (Maloney 72): N/A - Didn't see much of the ball.
John Akinde (Agyemang 78): N/A - Will see what he can really do next week.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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