Pompey held at home by Plymouth

Gary Roberts' goal ensured another breathless battle of the ports finished all square.

Friday, 14th April 2017, 4:35 pm
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:40 pm
Gary Roberts scores his second-half equaliser for Pompey Picture: Joe Pepler

Roberts’ snaffled away a 56th-minute leveller after former Pompey man Jake Jervis 12th-minute header put Plymouth in front.

It again proved a compelling and intriguing clash worthy of a promotion match-up in front of a crowd of 18,635 at Fratton Park.

Paul Cook’s side dominated possession and shots but Argyle’s white wall continually blocked the home side’s charge.

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And Derek Adams’ side proved dangerous on the counter-attack as they played in the manner they’ve become renowned for.

Conor Chaplin will believe he should have done better with a late header as the Blues pressed.

The result means the Pompey promotion bandwagon rolls on to Notts County on Monday with a blue army travelling to Meadow Lane.

It was a promising start for Pompey on a fine spring afternoon in the sunshine.

First Gary Roberts nearly nipped in ahead of Luke McCormick after Sonny Bradley failed to deal with a bouncing ball.

Then Roberts and and Stevens linked up promisingly before Gary Sawyer got an important block in to deny Kal Naismith a tap-in.

The Blues pressure continued as McCormick reacted well to keep out a swerving effort from Gareth Evans with one hand.

But Cook’s side were undone after 12 minutes by a classic Argyle sucker punch.

It was a quick break which led to Sawyer finding space and delivering an inviting cross for Jervis to powerfully head home, rising above Stevens.

That setback hit Pompey hit as the visitors began to find space between the lines with Graham Carey appearing in dangerous pockets.

Carey and Oscar Threlkeld then fired over with speculative efforts for the visitors.

But Pompey gradually settled and finally began to find some fluidity to their passing as the half wore on.

And they went close to a leveller as Naismith’s 20-yard drive was pushed into the path of Roberts by McCormick, but his shot was deflected into the side-netting.

But Adams’ side were a real threat on the counter and went within an inch of a second as Matty Kennedy danced through the Pompey box and fired just wide.

There were penalty appeals for handball as Kal Naismith’s free-kick deflected off the wall eight minutes before the break.

It was Pompey who finished the half dominating possession and territory, but Argyle had 10 men in their own box at times and were getting bodies in the way

There was no breakthrough, though, as Cook’s men went in behind at the break.

Roberts threatened straight after the restart, but, after some crafty footwork, fell at the vital moment.

Bennett’s deflected 30 yarder looked goalbound after 49 minutes but flew inches wide - as did Clarke’s header from the ensuing corner.

And it was similar story from Naismith’s drive after 54 minutes as a white wall filled the Argyle box.

The leveller finally arrived two minutes later as Pompey’s patient build-up play paid off.

It was Baker who found Benentt in a dangerous area on the left with a lovely pass. His cross was spilled by McCormick and Roberts was there to snaffle away the loose ball.

Then a lovely dummy from Roberts freed Naismith from Bennett’s pass, but the Scot dallied over his shot.

Roberts was given a standing ovation as he was replaced by Conor Chaplin after 66 minutes.

Baker was the next to force McCormick into a save from 25 yards as Pompey’s shot clocked racked up.

Chaplin had a great chance to win it four minutes from time but planted his free header wide from Naismith’s pitched cross.

And, despite late pressure, there was no way through as both sides appeared happy to settle for a point.