REPORT: Portsmouth 2 Peterborough United 0: This is a slump not a blip
A fifth defeat in six competitive games and Posh are now fifth in League One, just two points ahead of little Accrington Stanley in seventh, who have three games in hand.
Posh unquestionably deserved to lose 2-0 to Portsmouth at Fratton Park today (December 5). They competed well enough to reach half-time on level terms, but they were swatted aside in the second-half.
They were rarely torn apart, but a set-piece header from centre-back Jack Whatmough in the 61st minute and a 75th minute thunderbolt from Tom Naylor delivered a final scoreline Pompey deserved on their second-half dominance.
Posh were limp in response. Manager Darren Ferguson, who boasts an impressive personal record against these opponents, made four second-half substitutions without the flow of the game being altered.
Both team suffered disappointing midweek defeats, but while Pompey boss Kenny Jackett kept faith with his line-up, Darren Ferguson replaced Ryan Broom with Ethan Hamilton which hinted at a return to the midfield diamond.
Expensive striker Mo Eisa was back on the substitutes’ bench after his one-game exile, but more importantly fans were back, albeit about a ninth of Pompey’s normal home attendance.
It was enjoyable to watch a game with an atmospheric background and the players on both sides responded with lively and committed performances.
The diamond did indeed return for Posh which gave Pompey space on the wings they often threatened to expose, particularly on the side Frazer Blake-Tracy was trying to defend.
But clearcut chances were absent at either end. The best fell to Siriki Dembele who produced a superb first touch to bring down Whatmough’s 34th minute sliced clearance. He raced into the penalty area under pressure and his sidefoot finish was saved by the foot of home goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray.
Dembele had shot narrowly wide from 25 yards in the opening stages, while most of Pompey’s attacks finished with crosses that were well defended. One from Ryan Williams flashed across the six yard box just before top scorer John Marquis arrived.
If Posh were content at the break, their comfort was soon disrupted at the start of the second-half.
Pompey started to dominate possession once a couple of Dembele efforts had been thwarted.
They should have taken the lead through Ronan Curtis in the 55th minute after Posh ‘keeper Christy Pym had parried a Williams shot into his path, but his shot was horribly struck and went wide.
But six minutes later the hosts took the lead they deserved. Blake-Tracy conceded a free-kick out wide and a deep cross was headed home by Whatmough.
Posh responded with a triple substitution and a formation change to wing-backs, but straight after a fourth substitution Pompey made the points safe courtesy of a terrific 25 yard hit from Naylor.
Curtis was soon dipping a 35 yard free kick onto the roof of the Posh net as Pompey stayed in control.
The Posh response was minimal even though they were faced with a goalkeeper who didn’t catch a lot. The few Posh attacks broke down well before the home penalty area.
Ferguson has plenty of work to do to turn this season around.
Posh: Christy Pym, Nathan Thompson (sub Ryan Broom, 66 mins), Frazer Blake-Tracy (sub Niall Mason, 66 mins), Frankie Kent, Mark Beevers, Jack Taylor, Louis Reed, Ethan Hamilton (sub Idris Kanu, 66 mins), Sammie Szmodics (sub Mo Eisa, 75 mins), Siriki Dembele, Jonson Clarke-Harris.
Unused substitutes: Dan Gyollai, Flynn Clarke, Reece Brown.
Portsmouth: Craig MacGillivray, Callum Johnson, Lee Brown, Jack Whatmough, Sean Raggett, Ryan Williams, Tom Naylor, Andy Cannon, Ronan Curtis, John Marquis (sub Ellis Harrison, 86 mins), Marcus Harness.
Unused substitutes: Alex Bass, Cam Pring, Bryn Morris, Ben Close, Jordy Hiwula, Rasmus Nicolaisen.
Pompey - Whatmough (61 mins), Naylor (75 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Thompson (foul).
Pompey - Cannon - (foul)
Referee: Peter Wright 8.