Sloppy Pompey sunk in Stevenage.
Pompey’s unbeaten run is over, after the Blues conceded two sloppy goals, on a misty night in Stevenage.
Two goals from Filipe Morais, one in each half, was the difference between the sides. John Harley had equalised for Pompey midway through the second half with a fine strike from 25 yards.
Michael Appleton made one change from the side that beat Shrewsbury on Saturday, with Carl Dickinson making his second Blues debut in place of Mustapha Dumbuya at left-back.
The hosts started the game the better, enjoying their fair share of possession, but without producing anything in the final third.
After Stevenage’s early pressure, Pompey started to grow into the game. Akos Buzaky had a 30 yard free-kick, but it didn’t trouble Boro’s keeper Steve Arnold.
But it was Stevenage who took the lead on 14 minutes, however, Dickinson was partly at fault, as his mis-timed challenge allowed Lucas Akins a cross from the right, leaving a completely unmarked Morais to head home.
Pompey’s best chance of the half fell to Wes Thomas, but he couldn’t divert Izale McLeod’s cross in at the far post.
Some last-ditch defending and blocking by the Stevenage defence preserved their lead going into the break.
HT: Stevenage 1 – 0 Pompey
Appleton made a change at the start of the second half with Dumbuya replacing Buzsaky on the right side of midfield.
The 987 Pompey fans were almost celebrating the equaliser, Thomas pounced on a short back pass and rounded the keeper, but his shot was cleared off the line by Mark Roberts.
It was always going to take a bit of brilliance for Pompey to unlock the resilient Stevenage defence, and it came on 51 minutes, when Harley’s neat close control created some space, and he fired a curling shot into the bottom corner of the net.
After the goal Pompey were on the front foot, with Howard dominating the midfield, but they shot themselves in the foot, with more sloppy defending from a short corner, Morais’ cross from the left evaded everyone and went straight into the net without anyone getting a touch.
Pompey through everything at Stevenage’s defence in the closing stages, but Boro’s resistance was strong and their defenders made yet more brave blocks.
FT: Stevenage 2 – 1 Pompey
Pompey didn’t play badly at all, we limited Stevenage to only a handful of chances, on the other hand, we could have won three matches with the amount of clear-cut chances we made, we’ve certainly played worse this season and won.
I don’t like to criticise Appy, but for whatever reason, he doesn’t like using any of his substitutions, he complains about only having a small squad, but he doesn’t seem to use all the players he has available.
As for man of the match, Jon Harley had one of his best games, he seems to have more freedom playing in the advance position.
One thing is for sure, Pompey will need to take their chances, if they want to take any result from the trip to Sheffield United on Monday evening.