Pompey boosted their promotion charge with a 3-1 win against Yeovil on Saturday. Jordan Cross takes a look at the main talking points from the match...
The look of success
Pompey are showing the classic traits of a promotion team.
And they exhibited more of the necessary characteristics to get over the line as they picked up their sixth win in seven against Yeovil.
Paul Cook’s side never really hit top gear while looking comfortable in terms of possession against Yeovil.
But there were a couple of concerns in the first half as Tom Eaves and Bevis Mugabi spurned good chances against the run of play.
Then came the unfortunate moment six minutes after the restart which handed the Glovers an unlikely lifeline.
Even with the aid of replays how the ball came to loop over David Forde’s head is unclear.
National reports Francois Zoko applied the final touch appeared wide of the mark, with local outlets unanimous it was a Stevens own goal at the game.
The defender confirmed it was his touch afterwards, but flew on target after hitting Clarke.
Still, the unfortunate turn of events presented Pompey with a challenge to overcome as the angst grew following misses from Gary Roberts and Kal Naismith.
Naismith’s appeal for calm after his fluffed chance came at the start of a period in which the home crowd willed their team forward with positive energy.
Two goals in 10 minutes was the response to a question the team have, at times previously, failed to answer.
Now Pompey have a vice-like grip on their fate with five games remaining.
Kal’s here, there and everywhere.
Vince Hilaire was the man known for being here, there and everywhere.
But, after Hilaire’s induction to the Pompey hall of fame on Friday night, it was Naismith who followed in his footsteps against Yeovil.
Paul Cook kept faith with the flying Scot as he used him in the attacking role he impressed in at Hartlepool.
It was a fluid approach, however, with Gary Roberts used in the middle in the Blues’ 4-2-3-1 and the returning Carl Baker one side and Kyle Bennett the other.
Roberts was moved up top mid-way through the first half, with Naismith on the right and Baker moved inside.
In fact, it appeared the former Rangers man, who has been in the form of his life throughout the run-in, filled all of the attacking roles at one point or another.
It was only after Conor Chaplin’s introduction with 23 minutes remaining did he appear to best impact the game, though.
Rather than having the ball played up to him, Naismith was a bigger threat probing from a deeper-lying position.
The 25-year-old was on the spot for his 12th goals of the season after 68 minutes.
Naismith then played his part in helping Jamal Lowe break his Football League duck with 12 minutes remaining.
Ahead of the promotion showdown with Plymouth, Cook has interesting attacking selection issues to ponder.
Wait for it...
It would now take a monumental fall from grace for Pompey not to achieve promotion.
Which is the very statement which will bring a degree of trepidation to the hearts of Blues followers...
The gap opened up to eight points to fourth place following Stevenage’s collapse at Colchester.
It’s a powerful position to be in, make no bones about it, as thoughts among fans turn to when promotion will be secured.
Paul Cook’s mantra was clear in the wake of Saturday’s victory: We’ve achieved nothing yet.
But the Pompey boss even began to wonder himself what will be the figure needed to secure a League One place in his post-match debrief, until realigning his thoughts.
‘What will be the magic number?’ he said, before correcting himself. ‘The important thing is we keep winning.’
Another success from the five remaining games would leave Luton needing to collect four wins out of five over the same period to overhaul Pompey.
In the same scenario, three wins and two draws would take the Hatters to the same total and needing to bridge a goal difference nine goals inferior to Pompey’s.
Plymouth, who arrive at Fratton Park on Friday, need to better Luton’s result at home to struggling Leyton Orient and see Stevenage fail to win to be promoted.