Peterborough United lost their unbeaten record and top spot in League One as Portsmouth battled to a 2-1 win at the ABAX Stadium today (September 15).
Second-half goals from Oliver Hawkins - his first of the season - and Jamal Lowe effectively settled a physical encounter in the visitors’ favour. Matt Godden struck for Posh in the third of seven minutes added at the end of the game. Pompey now move to the top after a sixth win in eight matches.
There wasn’t much between the sides, but Posh found opponents capable of matching them physically and one capable of defending set-pieces, a source of many goals for Steve Evans’ side this season.
It quickly turned into a bruising battle between two big teams who conceded numerous free kicks between them, all of which, in the opening 45 minutes, were defended with ease.
Actual chances were rare with lanky Pompey striker Hawkins heading right wing crosses off target early and late in the half and Posh right-back Jason Naismith finishing off the one flowing home move that involved Godden, Mark O’Hara and Joe Ward by crossing too close to the ‘keeper.
Jason Cummings did slice a volley wide after one set piece rebound fell kindly, but otherwise Posh could make no headway against a well-drilled Pompey defence that featured former Posh centre-back Christian Burgess, despite the occasional turn of pace from Siriki Dembele and numerous headed flicks by midfielder O’Hara.
The second-half started in the same fashion with little goalmouth action until Ronan Curtis sprang past Joe Ward on the left and crossed for unmarked Hawkins to head home in the 62nd minute.
Ivan Toney was sent on before the goal, Jamie Walker and Marcus Maddison after it, but Posh struggled to breach a powerful, well organised defence.
And Pompey stole away to claime a second goal 15 minutes from time after a sloppy pass close to halfway from Rhys Bennett.
Curtis, who was outstanding the second half, surged to the edge of the Posh area, fed Hawkins who ran to the byline before chipping to the far post where Curtis nodded down for Jamal Lowe to finish.
And Pompey strangled the life out of the game thereafter, Toney headed the best opportunity wide from a Maddison free kick 10 minutes from time.
Godden did supply a fine finish after a sweeping move involving Maddison, Walker and Toney, but once a Siriki Dembele volley flew straight at Pompey ‘keeper Craig MacGillivray in the final seconds the marvellously vocal visiting could start celebrating.
Posh: Aaron Chapman, Jason Naismith, Colin Daniel, Rhys Bennett, Ryan Tafazolli, Alex Woodyard, Mark O’Hara (sub Jamie Walker, 67 mins), Siriki Dembele, Joe Ward (sub Marcus Maddison, 72 mins), Matt Godden, Jason Cummings (sub Ivan Toney, 58 mins).
Unused substitutes: Mark Tyler, Josh Yorwerth, Louis Reed, George Cooper.
Portsmouth: Craig MacGillivray, Nathan Thompson, Christian Burgess, Matt Clarke, Lee Brown, Tom Naylor, Ben Close (sub Ben Thompson, 87 mins), Jamal Lowe, Gareth Evans, Ronan Curtis (sub Brandon Haunstrup, 89 mins), Oliver Hawkins.
Unused substitutes: Luke McGee, Danny Rose, David Wheeler, Joe Mason, Brett Pitman.
Goals: Posh - Godden (90 + 3 mins)
Pompey - Hawkins (62 mins), Lowe (76 mins).
Cautions: Posh - Daniel (unsporting behaviour).
Pompey - Thompson (foul), Hawkins (time wasting), Lowe (foul), Burgess (dissent).
Referee: Roger East 6
Attendance: 10,472 (2,513 Pompey).