Bristol City 2 Pompey 1

Pompey concede five minutes before the break at Ashton Gate
Pompey concede five minutes before the break at Ashton Gate
Pompey forward Kal Naismith Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss delivers verdict on Naismith

0
Have your say

The lights went out on Pompey’s record hunt as Bristol City extinguished the Blues’ hopes of creating history.

Ashton Gate and its surroundings were last night plunged into darkness by a local power cut less than two hours before kick-off.

The lights out affected a half-mile radius and lasted for 90 minutes, threatening the fixture’s go-ahead.

But when they did come back on, it proved to be goodnight Pompey as their record-breaking run was finally grounded.

Not before Jamie Ashdown had beaten Peter Mellor’s 33-year-old record for post-war league minutes without conceding, mind.

Nonetheless, there was no record-breaking seven clean sheets in a row.

There was no seven league wins in succession to equal the tally set at the start of the 2002-03 campaign.

And there was even no conquering Mellor’s other post-war clean sheet record of 654 minutes without a goal in all competitions.

A 2-1 defeat dictated that as the Robins scored in either half to condemn Pompey to their first defeat in eight matches.

It was the lively Albert Adomah who set the hosts on the way with a smart 40th-minute opener during an open first half.

By that stage, Ashdown had gone 636 minutes without conceding in the league, beating that Mellor record by five minutes.

But there remained every opportunity to chalk up win number seven with the match remaining delicately poised.

That was until the 66th minute when Nicky Maynard galloped down the right and his low cross was crashed past his own keeper by Greg Halford.

Dave Kitson sparked a nervy finale when he turned home Carl Dickinson’s shot deep into stoppage time.

But City held on to victory as they maintained their own improved form of late.

In truth, Pompey were frequently troubled by the counter-attacking power of City, led by pacy duo Adomah and Maynard.

It was no coincidence that both goals came on the break following promising Blues possession.

In contrast, the visitors enjoyed plenty of the ball but failed to carve out sufficient goal-scoring opportunities to cap their often-impressive approach play.

They had manfully stood up to a barrage supplied by Sheffield United on occasions at the weekend.

But, this time out, the defence was finally breached as City secured the points.

And it’s time to start from scratch for Cotterill as he attempts to put pressure on the Championship play-off contenders.

The Blues boss named a side unchanged from the one who beat Sheffield United on Saturday.

There was no return, however, for Liam Lawrence, who is still sidelined by his troublesome calf problem.

Meanwhile, Nadir Ciftci was away on international duty with Turkey’s under-19s.

That ensured the Blues named just five substitutes, with Ibrahima Sonko yet again missing out through the maximum loans rule.

It was Hayden Mullins who fired Pompey’s first opportunity of the game with 13 minutes on the clock.

A period of sustained pressure from the visitors saw the ball find its way to the midfielder, who lashed in a 30-yard effort which prompted a scrambling save from former Pompey keeper David James.

At the other end, Dave Clarkson should have done better moments later when Adomah carved his way down the right and his centre was flicked into the path of the City striker.

Yet he crashed his first-time effort over the bar from eight yards out.

The hosts were threatening on the break with their pace and movement and Adomah sent over a wild 25-yard shot, while Ricardo Rocha did well to deflect Clarkson’s shot.

On the 30-minute mark, Robins supporters were cheering after Clarkson produced an overhead kick which was saved by Ashdown, only for the striker to nudge the follow-up over the line.

But the linesman’s flag for offside cut short the celebrations.

The 35th minute proved another landmark in the current run, 631 minutes without conceding a league goal – a Pompey post-war record.

Yet, just five minutes later, Ashdown’s goal was breached.

Rocha lost possession down the left and Adomah exchanged passes before calmly lifting the ball over the advancing Blues keeper.

Joel Ward almost fluked a goal within a minute of the restart when his cross from the byline almost found its way past James, but the keeper plucked the ball out from under the bar.

Pompey had appeals for a penalty waved away from referee Jon Moss on 51 minutes when Damion Stewart appeared to strike the ball against his own hand inside the area.

But on 66 minutes, the Robins sealed victory when Halford diverted Maynard’s low left-wing cross past his own keeper.

There was still time for James to pull off a stunning stop at his near post to thwart Kitson’s fierce angled drive.

Boss Cotterill threw on three of his substitutes in the closing moments in an attempt at supplying inspiration.

Inevitably, one of them, Kanu, was obliged, teeing up Dickinson, whose shot was turned in by Kitson.

City held on, though, to end Pompey’s record-breaking run and leave Cotterill’s men nine points adrift of the play-offs.