Pompey secure victory against Newport
Pompey moved a giant step closer to League One with victory over Newport County.
Goals from Kyle Bennett and Kal Naismith gave Paul Cook’s side a big 2-1 win at Fratton Park.
That moved the Blues six points clear in the automatic promotion places with seven games remaining.
Bennett’s fourth goal in as many starts arrived three minutes before the break, and then Naismith’s header cemented his place as top goalscorer 14 minutes after the restart.
It proved a nervy finale, though, as Marlon Jackson pulled a goal back for the Exiles with 14 minutes left.
Pompey held on through four minutes of stoppage time, however, to bring a feelgood factor to the crowd of 17,364 in the spring sunshine.
It was a positive enough start from Pompey in the spring sunshine at Fratton Park.
But it took until the ninth minute to fashion a clear chance as Kyle Bennett fired over from 20 yards from a corner.
Eoin Doyle then had two chances. The first of them was the clearest as he failed to get a strong enough touch on Kal Naismith’s cross when well placed.
Then Carl Baker threaded the ball through to the Irishman in the 13th minute but he couldn’t put his angled finished past Joe Day.
Pompey were forced into an early change after 25 minutes when Eoin Doyle was forced off through injury and replaced by Conor Chaplin.
Then Newport had their first opportunity in the 30th minute as Blues old boy Ryan Bird angled a ball across goal and Tom Davies eventually hacked clear as bodies converged in the six-yard box.
Chaplin almost got in seconds later but Mickey Demetriou got a last-ditch tackle in to deny the striker as he pulled the trigger.
The Pompey pressure continued as Chaplin missed his header from a dangerous Gareth Evans cross.
Chaplin then nearly got free from Michael Doyle’s lovely raking ball forward but keeper Joe Day was alert to avert the danger.
But Pompey made the breakthrough three minutes before the break through Bennett.
It was a goal which owed much to Baker’s lovely through ball which found the attacking talent’s perfectly-timed run and allowed him to confidently finish.
Pompey’s dominance continued as the second half started with the influential Baker going close after 54 minutes, firing over after a surge forward.
Then Baker picked out Evans’ run down the right but his cross was just in front of the on-rushing Chaplin.
Pompey finally put daylight between the sides after 59 minutes, though, with patient play ending with Chaplin pitching a ball up for Naismith to head past Day.
Cook’s side were then indebted to David Forde who made an excellent flying stop to keep out Marlon Jackson’s cross.
But County gave themselves hope with 14 minutes left as Alex Samuel headed his side back into the game from six yards from Sean Rigg’s cross.
The nerves then started to creep in and Forde again had to save his team as he blocked Jackson effort as the striker went clear.
Pompey sent on Jack Whatmough in the 83rd minute to bring stability to the defence.
But it was Evans the home side were indebted to to deny Samuel a certain goal four yards out.
The fourth official indicated four minutes of stoppage time at the end of the game.
And Cook’s side held their nerve to pick up a crucial three points.