Pompey 2 Coventry City 1

Conor Chaplin steers home the opener against Coventry City. Picture: Joe Pepler
Conor Chaplin steers home the opener against Coventry City. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey produced their most complete pre-season performance yet to defeat Coventry City 2-1.

Conor Chaplin, the inspiration in the weekend victory at Gosport Borough, was once again in wonderful form with an involvement in both Blues goals at Westleigh Park last night.

The forward retained his place in the three behind the lone striker and responded by breaking the deadlock after only four minutes with a finish inside the box.

Only the stroke of half-time he then fed the impressive Gareth Evans to make it 2-0 against the League One outfit.

Paul Cook’s men, who had triallists Matt Clarke and Frank van der Struijk in their starting line-up, were well worth their lead at the interval.

Van der Struijk, a former Holland under-21 international, slotted in at right-back, while Clarke featured in the centre of defence ahead of a potential loan move from Ipswich Town.

After the break a moment of brilliance by George Thomas reduced the arrears on 53 minutes to spark thoughts of a possible fightback by Tony Mowbray’s men.

But it was always Pompey who looked more likely to score, even if the Sky Blues’ Aaron Martin hit the bar late on with a header from a corner.

Evans, formerly of Fleetwood Town, shone brightest for Cook’s side – albeit amid a number of impressive displays.

And the result ensured the Blues have now won two and drawn two of their pre-season programme heading into the game at Woking on Friday night.

Cook rotated his squad once more for the Westleigh Park fixture, which represented a third game in five days for the Blues.

With the intention of bringing on a packed substitutes’ bench in the second half, first appearances were granted to Clarke and van der Struijk as part of the back four.

Once more lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Nigel Atangana and Danny Hollands were named as the two holding midfielders, with Theo Robinson the lone striker following his goal against Gosport at the weekend.

The three attacking midfield spots went to Kal Naismith, Chaplin and Evans, with Enda Stevens at left-back.

Despite having almost shaken off his knee injury, there was again no place in the squad for Gary Roberts, while Adam McGurk and Adam Barton also missed out with knocks.

Meanwhile, Johnny Ertl’s Blues exit is imminent and yet again there was no place for James Dunne, who picked up an ankle injury last week.

It took Pompey just four minutes to break the deadlock as Chaplin continued his purple patch in front of goal.

Naismith swung in a corner from the right and when Paul Robinson’s far-post header was saved, there was Chaplin to steer it home with a left-foot finish.

Moments later, Atangana dispossessed John Fleck in Coventry’s half to launch another counter-attack but it soon fizzled out.

The Sky Blues responded with Thomas firing in a volley from the edge of the box which was taken at full stretch by the flying Paul Jones.

In the 20th minute, another Naismith corner was flicked on by Chaplin and Theo Robinson connected with a flying scissor-kick which deflected off a defender and was comfortably taken by the Coventry keeper.

At the other end, Romain Vincelot attempted to curl a left-foot shot towards goal from long range.

But instead it cannoned off the head of Clarke and ricocheted to the relative safety of a corner.

Coventry then won a free-kick following a foul by Hollands, with James Maddison dinking the ball into the box only for Jones to comfortably gather Jim O’Brien’s header.

Pompey were looking good for their lead and with half-time approaching a throw-in found Theo Robinson and he squared to Naismith whose low left-foot shot was blocked from inside the box.

Sure enough, Cook’s side doubled their advantage in the 45th minute following a clever through ball by Chaplin.

His pass dissected the Sky Blues defence to send Evans racing away to calmly slot a right-foot finish past Lee Burge.

There were no changes at the break for Pompey, yet they had to rely on Jones to prevent the visitors pulling a goal back within a minute of the restart.

Thomas beat Stevens too easily in the box and fired in a right-foot drive which was superbly pushed out by Jones, with Atangana making the clearance.

In the 53rd minute, however, Thomas did reduce the deficit with a sublime finish.

A diagonal ball came in from the left from Reda Johnson and the striker took the ball down magnificently before effortlessly lobbing the onrushing Jones.

The Blues’ response was a free-kick from Evans – 35 yards out – which somehow found its way through a packed penalty area and was taken at the second attempt by a stunned keeper.

Chaplin then slid in Evans down the right and the midfielder took a touch before letting fly only for Dion Kelly-Evans to appear from nowhere to produce a vital block.

The introduction of Adam Webster on 58 minutes represented the Blues’ first substitution, with Paul Robinson going off.

A succession of mistakes from Mowbray’s men almost let in the hosts for another goal, with Kelly-Evans firstly gifting the ball to Evans.

His cross was missed by Johnson but Naismith could not convert at the far post.

Evans was enjoying himself and when his beautifully-flighted cross from the right was scrambled clear, he picked up the loose ball and drove in a right-foot effort which was magnificently finger-tipped away by Burge.

Still only a goal separated the sides and in the 76th minute it took a brave block from Naismith inside his own penalty area to keep out Danny Swanson’s goal-bound shot.

From the resulting corner, Martin powered a header towards goal.

But it was brilliantly pushed on to the bar by substitute Michael Poke.

Coventry then failed to turn the loose ball home amid flying feet.

That was to be the final scare for the Blues as they controlled the remainder of the match without too much trouble to secure a 2-1 victory.

Pompey: Jones (Poke, 76min), Stevens (Haunstrup, 74min), Clarke (Burgess, 74min), P Robinson (Webster, 58min), van der Struijk (Davies, 69min), Atangana (Doyle, 69min), Hollands (Close, 68min), Naismith (Field, 89min), Chaplin (Bennett, 68min), Evans (Nilsen, 82min), T Robinson (Stockley, 64min). Sub not used: Tubbs