Pompey at last have their penalty king

Pompey have finally crowned their spot-kick king.

Tuesday, 11th April 2017, 9:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:53 pm
Gareth Evans celebrates his penalty. Picture: Joe Pepler

Gareth Evans stepped forward against Yeovil – and the club toasted a first successful penalty conversion in almost five months.

Since Gary Roberts netted from 12 yards in November’s 4-0 victory over Mansfield, Paul Cook’s side have spurned five consecutive spot kicks.

When the veteran midfielder was fouled by Bevis Mugabi in Saturday’s encounter, Evans grabbed the ball to place a right-foot finish into the bottom left-hand corner.

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Evans himself had missed his previous penalty while representing Fleetwood at Southend in April 2013.

Nonetheless, an eighth Football League goal from the penalty spot contributed towards the Blues’ ongoing promotion push.

Evans said: ‘It was decided in the week – I had been on the gaffer’s case to let me take a penalty!

‘The gaffer had pretty much said I was on them so, when Robbo did well to earn the pen, I ran over and got the ball.

‘I think Bakes (Carl Baker) fancied it as well but must have overheard the gaffer saying in the week that I was on the next penalty. So that’s that, really.

‘I’d been practicing and knew I was going to put it there – that’s not to say that’s where my next one will go.

‘I always fancy myself to take pens and, when one came along, thankfully I managed to score.

‘The fact we have missed so many this season didn’t come into my mind.

‘You know where you are going to put it.

‘If you hit it hard into the corner, the chances are the keeper is not going to save it.

‘I just smashed it and if he saved it, then it would have been a good save.

‘It’s when you start changing your mind that you’re going to be in trouble.

‘When you grab the ball, you have to know where you’re going to put it.’

Pompey have won 13 penalties this season – missing seven of them.

The culprits consist of Roberts (two), Michael Smith, Kal Naismith, Conor Chaplin (two) and Eoin Doyle.

Roberts, however, still has four successful conversions to his name this season amid his nine-goal haul to date.

Forgotten man Curtis Main is the only other to successfully register, hitting the target in August’s EPL Cup defeat at Coventry.

Evans doesn’t possess the perfect record throughout his career.

Admittedly, during the 2008-09 campaign, he scored five penalties in a 70-day spell for Macclesfield in League Two.

However, he then missed three of his next five, two of which came in Bradford City colours.

Not that it dampened the enthusiasm for staking a claim to be Pompey’s spot-kick resident.

Evans added: ‘It was pleasing to get on the scoresheet, I’ve not done that in a while.

‘I took penalties at Macclesfield and never missed. It was Bradford where that happened!

‘The last one I had scored was in a 2-2 draw at Aldershot for Rotherham.’