Bognor 1 Pompey 4 – Neil Allen’s match report

Conor Chaplin torments the Bognor defence. Picture: Sarah Standing
Conor Chaplin torments the Bognor defence. Picture: Sarah Standing
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Conor Chaplin inspired Pompey to a comfortable victory over Bognor Town.

Yet it was a mixed bag from the returning Paul Jones, who impressed in spells only for a handling error to present the hosts with their sole goal.

Paul Cook named a youthful side for the Blues’ penultimate friendly, rotating his squad and lining-up in a diamond formation for last night’s 4-1 victory.

During a sparkling first-half from Chaplin, the forward scored one and set up Curtis Main, before substitute Michael Smith and Adam May netted in the second period.

There was also a first pre-season outing for Jones, who had been robbed of facing Bournemouth on Saturday through a thigh problem incurred the previous day.

Fortunately the complaint was not as serious as initially feared.

And he started at Nyewood Lane to stake a claim for what continues to be a problematic position for Cook.

At times the 30-year-old’s handling was convincing, particularly from corners, while he pulled off several excellent saves during a full 90 minutes.

However, on 48 minutes he dropped a corner at his near post, allowing Harvey Whyte to pull a goal back for the Rocks, overshadowing a fine comeback.

The keeper claimed he was impeded in a crowded area, nonetheless it again raises questions over the goalkeeping position.

Joining Jones in the side were five products of the Blues’ Academy, including another outing for Christian Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Widdrington.

There was also another opportunity for Amine Linganzi to impress, while another triallist, former Fulham winger Dean O’Halloran came off the bench in the second-half.

Tom Davies continued his comeback from injury, partnering Adam Barton in the centre of defence, with Chaplin and Main forming the strikeforce.

The Rocks’ Billy Granger was called into action within the opening four minutes when Chaplin broke down the left and his angled drive was partially stopped by Granger.

The ball eventually found its way to Ben Close on the edge of the area, but his first-time shot flashed narrowly over the bar.

Moments later the lively Chaplin again threatened, this time shooting over from the left rather than testing the keeper.

Granger was again called into action, this time saving at his near post from Chaplin following a deep ball down the left which found the forward.

Jones was involved in two confidence-boosting moments when firstly he saved from Whyte, then took a towering catch from a corner before his throw set Ben Tollitt away for a counter attack.

In that attack, Oxlade-Chamberlain teed up Main, who thrashed a first-time left-foot shot over the bar from an excellent position.

It remained busy for the Rocks’ defence and, on 20 minutes, Chaplin’s deflected shot was brilliantly tipped over by Granger when it seemed destined for a goal.

Yet Pompey finally broke the deadlock on 27 minutes, inevitably through Chaplin.

The youngster was fouled on the edge of the area when Sami El-Abd took him down as he raced onto Close’s pass.

He then picked himself up to strike a left-footed free-kick into the net and break the deadlock.

Slack play from Pompey on 34 minutes allowed Dylan Barnett to shoot and when Jones blocked his attempt at point-blank range, James Fraser struck the woodwork with a follow-up.

The visitors, however, extended their lead on 43 minutes when Chaplin crossed from the left and Main rose to plant a close-range header past Granger.

There were no substitutions at the break and on 48 minutes the impressive Barnett saw his left-foot shot superbly pushed around the post by Jones.

But from the resulting corner they did net.

Jones was unable to keep hold of the cross at his near post, believing he had been impeded, while Whyte was on hand to force it home.

Pompey restored their advantage on 67 minutes when Tollitt was fouled in the box by substitute Darren Budd and Smith – on the pitch for five minutes – tucked home the penalty.

It was a second goal in three pre-season matches for the summer recruit following his return from injury.

May added himself to the scoresheet on 74 minutes with a sweet left-foot shot from distance following a patient build-up.

In the dying moments Oxlade-Chamberlain was perfectly positioned to block substitute Jimmy Wild’s shot on the line.

Yet there were to be no late hiccups as Cook’s troops eased to a 4-1 victory to make it another winning pre-season fixture.

Pompey: Jones, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Tom Davies, Barton, Widdrington, May, Close (Scutt 75min), Linganzi (Yates 69min), Tollitt, Chaplin (O’Halloran 62min), Main (Smith 62min).

Sub Not Used: Bass.

Bognor: Granger (Taylor 56min), Crane, Barnett, Tuck (Consaro 70min), Field (Wollers 70min), El-Abd (Sanders 56min), Jason Davies, Beck (Robinson 81min), Fraser (Wild 56min), Pearce (Robinson 81min), Whyte (Budd 56min).

Attendance: 1,200