Crawley 0 Pompey 2

Kyle Bennett netted Pompey's second goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kyle Bennett netted Pompey's second goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Dion Donohue. Picture: Colin Farmery

New boy’s bitter-sweet Pompey experience

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Pompey gatecrashed League Two’s top three with a superb 2-0 victory at Crawley.

Second-half goals from Christian Burgess and Kyle Bennett lifted the Blues into the automatic promotion places for the first time since September as Paul Cook’s side reaffirmed their credentials in the race to go up.

Pompey were desperate to put to bed the disappointment of Saturday’s morale-sapping defeat at the hands of Crewe.

And that is exactly what they did - despite a missed penalty from Eoin Doyle on 53 minutes - as they returned from West Sussex with three points and a boost to their confidence safely in the bag.

The visitors looked lively in the first period but did not really test home keeper Glenn Morris.

The Crawley stopper saw Gareth Evans divert Kal Naismith’s deliver from a corner-kick wide on 10 minutes, before Kyle Bennett failed to make the keeper work after a long ball forward from Matt Clarke.

Danny Rose’s shot from the edge of the box was easily gathered by Morris on 21 minutes - as was the recalled midfielder’s effort just after the half-hour mark.

Eoin Doyle had a great opportunity to put the Blues in front one minute later after a defence-splitting pass from Carl Baker.

And on the occasion Morris was made to earn his crust, the Irishman made life easy for him by firing straight at the on-rushing keeper.

At the other end, the hosts caused the Blues little to worry about, and it was not until the 40th minute when David Forde looked concerned.

However, Rhys Murphy’s curling shot from the top of the penalty area just missed the target as the first half ended goalless.

In the second period Crawley threatened to break the deadlock first when James Collins fired over from an acute angle after turning Clarke in the box.

But it was Pompey who scored the decisive opener - albeit after a golden opportunity to take the lead.

The marauding Enda Stevens was brought down in the home penalty area on 51 minutes, presenting Eoin Doyle with the chance to score from the penalty spot.

But the Irishman fluffed his lines as Morris saved easily, with the ball eventually scrambled clear for a corner-kick.

The home side rejoiced and could perhaps have been guilty of continuing their celebrations when the corner came in as Burgess rose highest to head home unchallenged to hand the Blues the lead.

Pompey were dealt a blow moments later when Stevens was replaced by Noel Hunt because of an injury.

But it did not stop the Blues building on their lead as Bennett surged forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot, which took a slight deflection, past the helpless Morris.

Pompey were now in control and Baker’s attempt to make it 3-0 on 66 minutes was somehow blocked by the alert home keeper.

Crawley drew a save out of Forde as substitute Billy Clifford surged into the visitors’ box.

But Cook’s side had the wind in their sail and never looked like conceding as they claimed an important win that could prove vital at the end of the season.