Pompey 1 Plymouth 0 – Neil Allen’s match report

Kal Naismith's winning goal was his first in the league this season
Kal Naismith's winning goal was his first in the league this season
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Such moments have proven as scarce as Pompey triumphs over their modern-day adversaries.

Nonetheless, there was no mistaking the Danny Rose chant cascading from the Fratton end.

The song which echoes his name to the tune of Boney M’s ‘Daddy Cool’ emerged twice during the first period against Plymouth.

There was also at least one unmistakable encore during the second half of Saturday’s Fratton Park encounter.

It represented a Fratton faithful honouring of the midfielder whose current displays are held in soaring regard.

A key component of the League Two title winners, Rose was last term an efficient and effective presence in the midfield engine room, starting as many league games as Matt Clarke and Kyle Bennett.

Yet rarely has Pompey fans’ appreciation reached the form of vocal applause, with other more eye-catching performers serving as their muse.

Not that the adaptation of the 70s disco classic wasn’t on occasions rolled out last season in tribute to the former Oxford man. However, they were fleeting.

Revealing then that Fratton Park staged a noisy rendition during a display in which the 29-year-old maintained his magnificent form following a first-team re-emergence.

Kenny Jackett has alternated his holding midfield combinations during this maiden Blues season – and how Rose has grasped his second opportunity.

He was excluded from six of Pompey’s seven squads during the month of September, while skippered the reserves at Privett Park only 35 days ago.

Yet the 29-year-old has now started the last five matches – with the Blues victorious in four of them.

During the process of cementing residence in Jackett’s side, he has condemned loanee and one-time skipper Stuart O’Keefe to the bench, a player who certainly hasn’t fallen short in his own performances.

Rose, however, has materialised from his period out in the cold in determined fashion, producing a string of excellent displays, the latest of which arrived against the Pilgrims.

Not since Matt Tubbs and Gary Roberts etched their names on the scoresheet in August 2015 have Pompey defeated Derek Adams’ side.

Saturday represented a first triumph in six attempts during this contemporary rivalry created by several promotion feuds and managerial bad blood.

The ‘Dockyard Derby’ tagline fastened onto such encounters by some in media circles has ramped up the antagonism between clubs possessing no previous history of conflict.

The subsequent 1-0 win was understandably well received by Pompey players and supporters alike, yet this is not the same Plymouth side to have admirably stood in battle during the previous two seasons.

Instead they have sunk to the bottom of League One and face an almighty fight to remain in a division in which Jackett’s men are tantalisingly close to entering the play-offs.

At the heart of a positive outcome for the Blues was Rose, patrolling the midfield with deft fingers to pick the pockets of opponents when least expected.

Indeed, the summer of 2016 recruit brings with him a welcome guile and hypnotic reading of the game to dispossess opponents, often without the necessity for thunderous tackles.

Against the Pilgrims, he regularly materialised to nick the ball, employ his body as a shield and then twist away to launch a Pompey period of play.

And, towards the end of the first half, his essential presence was acknowledged in approving fashion by the Fratton faithful.

Rose was the Blues’ star performer in a 1-0 defeat which flattered the struggling visitors, irrespective of Adams’ curious post-match comments.

‘Both teams didn’t have any real efforts on goal so, from my point of view, it’s the worst game I have been involved Portsmouth against Plymouth. It was rubbish,’ the Pilgrims boss told the Plymouth Herald.

‘They weren’t in our 18-yard box in the first half. We were the better team.

‘There was no way that Portsmouth were better than us. Not a hope in this world. It was 0-0 written all over the game.’

Plymouth’s contribution was one shot on target, while in the second half Pompey hit the post and drew an improbable point-blank save from Remi Matthews to deny Gareth Evans – in addition to netting the decisive goal.

Still, other than bombarding the penalty area in the final 10 minutes plus stoppage time with long balls and Gary Sawyer’s sizeable throws, Luke McGee had barely any involvement.

The pivotal moment arrived in the 24th minute after Matt Clarke’s left-foot punt forward from his own half.

Sonny Bradley left it for his keeper to deal with, emerging from his penalty area to control the ball before being dispossessed by Kal Naismith.

The Scot prodded a left-foot shot towards goal as he slipped to the ground after seemingly tugged back by the desperate Matthews, yet the ball entered the net and Pompey had their lead.

Naismith had been pushed into the lone striker role in place of Curtis Main for the fixture, with Conor Chaplin recalled to operate behind as one of three changes.

Nathan Thompson came in at right-back, while Brandon Haunstrup occupied the left full-back berth to allow Matt Clarke to replace the suspended Christian Burgess.

The outcome was Naismith grabbing his first league goal of a campaign which has yielded just the five starts in League One so far.

Last term’s top-scorer was agonisingly close to adding a second on 78 minutes after the lively Chaplin had dispossessed Antoni Sarcevic.

He slipped it into Naismith’s path down left channel and, following a right-foot touch, steered a shot towards goal as Matthews came racing out.

The keeper collided with the attacker and both were on the floor as the ball struck the foot of the far post and bounced clear.

The clash would ultimately force Naismith off minutes later with injury to his left knee, a problem the Blues will be hoping is not too severe.

In truth, a rip-roaring start to the second half should have put the game beyond all doubt, yet while the lead remained slender there was always opportunity for a leveller.

Jackett’s men, though, saw it out, with the omnipresent Rose as on-song as the tune delivered by his supporters.