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Pompey See Off Nine Man Crawley
Crawley Town 0 Portsmouth 3
Pompey finally have their first league win of the season after defeating Crawley Town 3-0 at Broadfield Stadium.
Whilst the scoreline might say that this was an empathic victory for Pompey, the result is flattering for a team that struggled to create anything when the sides were even and were helped by an incompetent referee.
The first half was not one to be remembered. Gabor Gyepes came in at centre back for his debut but limped off after 40 minutes with what looked like a nasty injury.
Chances were few and far between because both sides gave the ball away constantly whilst Pompey were constantly caught offside every time they attempted to attack. Hope Akpan came close with a volley that fell just wide of the post but it looked like the half would end with virtually no talking points.
However, Josh Simpson received a second yellow card for a supposed late challenge on Izale McLeod. TV replays clearly show that there was no contact on the Portsmouth striker which suggests he might have dived, although only he will know.
You would have expected Pompey to make full use of their man advantage in the second half but despite having more possession, the only chances were created right at the start when Jack Compton forced Paul Jones into saving his free kick whilst Brian Howard also tested the Crawley keeper with an angled drive.
Pompey might also have had a penalty when Adam Webster was hauled down by a Crawley man at the far post when a corner was taken, but referee Deadman added that to the decisions he got wrong today.
Despite having an extra man, Pompey couldn't break down their hosts and it looked like Michael Appleton would be in for some criticism but he then introduced Ashley Harris to the game and that decision paid instant dividends.
But that wasn't before Crawley were reduced to nine men as McLeod was upended by Akpan who was booked early in the game and was also sent for an early bath for a second bookable offence, although this one was more clear cut than the first.
Moments later Webster floated a long ball towards the back post and the 18-year-old darted past the Red Devils defenders and produced a diving header past Jones to give the Pompey the lead.
The win was virtually confirmed when Luke Rodgers was tugged back on the edge of the box by ex-Pompey youth Shaun Cooper. The striker then curled a perfect free kick into the top corner, giving Jones no chance.
The Crawley fans were getting agitated and public enemy McLeod rubbed salt into their wounds by rounding Jones and slotting into an empty net after being put through by Harris.
And just to add insult to injury, manager Richie Barker was sent to the stands for his squinnying as Pompey recorded their best away victory since Peterborough last season.
Despite the margin of victory, the three goals were all scored in the last 15 minutes and really did gloss over the fact that Pompey struggled to keep the ball and create any real chances in a poor game of football.
The positives to take from the game is that the defence were much improved from the Bournemouth game on Tuesday, as Crawley's attack were dealt with easily and Mikkel Andersen only had to be called into action once or twice.
Luke Rodgers continues to impress with his work rate and another goal, whilst Ashley Harris looked bright when coming off the bench once again and was instrumental in the victory today.
So, onwards and upwards, then? The next match is on Saturday at home to Walsall but I expect Pompey fans will be talking about another Arabian takeover after reports today that around £12 million has been deposited into an escrow account with a view to using that money to purchase the club.
Apparently it is not Sulaiman Al-Fahim who is involved, so who knows who it could be? Maybe Ali Al-Faraj wants to return with Balram Chainrai desperate to get his £17 million back?
I won't believe anything until a takeover is announced. Hopefully that won't be too long in coming.
Pompey Player Ratings
Mikkel Andersen: 6 - Nothing to do.
Josh Thompson: 7 - Much stronger than his Bournemouth showing.
Gabor Gyepes: 6 - Solid until unfortunate injury.
Kevin Long: 7 - Dealt with Crawley's threat well.
Jon Harley: 6 - Steady enough.
Lee Williamson: 5 - Passing was sloppy.
Brian Howard: 6 - Might have been sent off for a late challenge.
Darel Russell: 5 - Still needs time to settle.
Jack Compton: 6 - Looked our most dangerous player until Harris' arrival.
Izale McLeod: 5 - May have scored but it was put on a plate and he was ineffective up until then, and he may have even cheated too.
Luke Rodgers: 7 - Sublime free kick.
Adam Webster (Gyepes 41): 7 - Slotted in seamlessly.
Liam Walker (Howard 83): N/A - Not sure why he didn't start.
Ashley Harris (Compton 70): 8 - Won the game for Pompey.
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