PORTSMOUTH REAL CHALLENGERS
ON THIS form Pompey look nailed on to sustain a strong promotion challenge.
After a nervy start they took control of midfield, with Adam Barton in particularly impressive form, and always looked capa- It’s important that players not in the team continue to train hard because fortunes can change in a heartbeat.
“We played well here after a difficult opening five minutes.
“It’s great to have gone top of the table because that is where we want to be and what we are all working towards.
“I thought Adam Barton and Danny Hollands both had excellent games in midfield and we were in control for a lot of the match.”
Portsmouth went in front on 29 minutes when Rovers failed to pick up Gareth Evans as he moved onto Kyle Bennett’s cross from the right and beat Lee Nicholls with an excellent downward header from 12 yards to sent the travelling support wild. ble of creating chances against a Rovers side, still coming to terms with League Two football after winning promotion.
Jermaine Easter claimed Rovers’ 47th-minute equaliser, but may have a job hanging onto it. The experienced striker hit a rocket shot at the near post when latching onto Dan Leadbitter’s cross, but the ball cannoned off the bar and hit goalkeeper Aaron McCarey on the back before crossing the line.
It may eventually go down as an own goal.Whatever the case, it wasn’t enough to stop home boss Darrell Clarke criticising his team’s performance as he watched on to see Stockley convert Davies’ cross to seal all three points for the new League Two leaders.
Clarke said: “We were not good enough on the ball and if that happens the better teams like
The hosts lacked nothing in effort, but were unable to match Portsmouth’s smooth distribution of the ball and displayed a soft centre for the two goals.
Darrell Clarke’s halftime substitutions and Portsmouth will punish you.
“We started well, but by half-time I wasn’t at all happy because they were controlling things.
“I made a couple of substitutions, which seemed to work well, but after equalising we were again guilty of giving the ball away too often.
“We are on a poor run and have to dig in to get results from the two away games coming up.
“It’s good to have Dan Leadbitter and Mark McChrystal back in the squad after injuries.
“But I am disappointed with the way we played and the two goals we conceded, which were through similar defensive errors.”
Portsmouth should have been ahead before Evans broke the deadlock.
And on 20 minutes Conor Chaplin somehow contrived to head wide of an unguarded net from a Bennett change to a 4-4-2 formation gave the visitors more to think about, but even after the home side’s equaliser there was no great pressure on Aaron McCarey’s goal and once Stockley struck the result was settled. cross as the visitors continued to press, only to be let down when it came to sticking the ball in the Bristol Rovers net.
Rovers’ best first-half effort followed a spell of pressure on 36 minutes, which ended with McCarey making a fine save from Easter’s volley.
For most of the match it was the visitors’ slick passing and movement which caught the eye, while Rovers improved after the break without doing enough to earn a point as Portsmouth sent their fans home happy.
FIRST BLOOD: Portsmouth celebrate their opener while, right, Bristol Rovers’ Stuart Sinclair gets a shot away STAR MAN ADAM BARTO