Peterborough 2 Pompey 1: Neil Allen's match report
It was a day of mixed emotions for Kenny Jackett as defeat dampened his Pompey high.
The Blues’ boss was yesterday announced as having signed a new deal – just 23 matches into his Fratton Park career.
Michael Eisner’s desire for stability and recognition of the managerial talents of the 55-year-old culminated in a two-year extension to the contract signed in June.
It was a development which had caught the Fratton faithful by surprise, nonetheless the day ended with the disappointment of a 2-1 London Road defeat.
With the talismanic Brett Pitman absent through injury, Pompey’s attacking threat inevitably subsided and Peterborough took advantage during the second half.
Marcus Maddison was the inspiration, laying on both goals to hand the hosts a 2-0 advantage after 70 minutes through Jack Marriott and a Kal Naismith own goal.
Substitute Conor Chaplin handed the visitors a lifeline 12 minutes from time, yet that leveller eluded the Blues as a three-match winning streak ground to a halt.
The first half had been poor from both sides, lacking quality and with passing accuracy below par, although Gwion Edwards struck the bar and Curtis Main nudged the post.
Yet once Posh opened the scoring on 58 minutes they never looked like relinquishing their lead.
And for Pompey’s manager – now contracted until the summer of 2021, a loss against Grant McCann’s men.
In the build up, crucially, Jackett was robbed of his 12-goal leading scorer and skipper Pitman through a hamstring problem.
His place leading the line was taken by Main, one of two changes to the side which defeated Southend United on Saturday.
The other was Kyle Bennett making way for Matty Kennedy, who laid on the winner for Pitman in that 1-0 success.
Kennedy moved to the left of the attacking three, with Naismith operating in the role behind the main striker, while Oli Hawkins continued in defence alongside Christian Burgess.
Elsewhere, Adam May come on to a bench which also contained Bennett.
On four minutes, Jamal Lowe intercepted a pass and charged down the right flank, leaving Michael Doughty in his wake and winning the game’s first corner.
That was delivered from the left by Gareth Evans and Naismith found himself free at the far post only to plant his header back across goal when well-placed for an attempt himself.
Moments later, the Scot fired in a shot from outside the area which comfortably flew wide of the post.
Lowe was buzzing around and on 15 minutes won another corner – this time down the right – after making a pest of himself against Edwards.
The Blues were given a scare on 17 minutes when Edwards struck the bar.
Danny Lloyd weaved a wonderful pass from the right into the path of the wing-back’s charge into the penalty area and his left-foot shot cannoned off the woodwork and bounced clear.
There was little in the way of action but on 27 minutes Ben Close’s shot struck Naismith to launch a counter-attack.
Maddison cut a way forwards and fired off a shot which Pompey keeper Luke McGee pushed around the post.
Lovely play between Kennedy and Main then presented the latter with a fierce goal attempt which kissed the outside of the right-hand upright on its way wide.
Largely, though, it was a fitful opening half, with very little quality demonstrated by either team.
Peterborough made a change at the interval, with Ryan Tafazolli making way for Andrew Hughes.
On 51 minutes, Naismith found space down the left to fire in a teasing cross which agonisingly just eluded the slide of Main in the centre of the goal.
Anthony Grant received the first booking of the match on 54 minutes after catching Naismith as he threatened to speed ahead.
In the Blues’ next attack, Naismith brought the ball forward and fired a left-foot shot from just outside the box which Conor O’Malley superbly tipped around the post.
The deadlock was broken on 58 minutes through an excellent Posh move.
Maddison delivered a dangerous cross from the left and there was Marriott to slide it into the net at the far post from close range.
In the 64th minute, Chaplin was introduced for Main as the visitors sought to eke out an equaliser.
Yet it was the Posh looking more likely to register the next goal.
And they cranked up the pressure, with Taylor among those going close as he rifled a corner narrowly over the bar.
On 70 minutes, the hosts extended their lead following a foul on Maddison by Burgess, earning him a booking.
Maddison delivered the free-kick from the right and the ball appeared to strike the head of Naismith to thunder past his own keeper and make it 2-0.
Pompey’s response was immediate, Chaplin not quite catching a left-foot shot at the far post yet the ball still threatened to enter the net until Grant headed it off the line. Yet Chaplin did pull one back on 78 minutes when Rose’s angled shot was saved and the Blues substitute pounced to prod it home from close range.
Pompey pushed for the leveller and four minutes of time added on allowed them to maintain that hope.
But it never arrived and Jackett’s day which began to brightly finished so gloomy.