Portsmouth into the last eight of Checkatrade Trophy with Southend success

Pompey celebrate at Southend tonight. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey celebrate at Southend tonight. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey eased into the quarter-finals of the Checkatrade Trophy with a 2-0 win at Southend.

Louis Dennis and Gareth Evans got the first-half goals which put Kenny Jackett’s side into the last eight of the much-maligned competition in front of a crowd of 1,649.

The Blues were comfortable at Roots Hall on a night which saw three academy talents pick up game time, along with young pros Matt Casey and Dan Smith.

Bradley Lethbridge, Freddie Read and Leon Maloney were the youngsters given their chance, with all looking comfortable.

It’s now the best run Pompey have ever produced in the competition, with the fixtures beginning to pile up.

Jackett made 10 changes for the game with Evans the only survivor from the FA Cup win over Norwich.

It took just 93 seconds for Pompey to break the deadlock with Smith, starting at right-back, producing the supply from the right for Dennis to loop home a header.

The next opening didn’t arrive until the 27th minute when Lethbridge whistled a shot over from the edge of the box.

David Wheeler should have made it two seconds later when he was played clear by Andre Green but rolled his shot inches past the far post.

Southend had a decent chance to level six minutes before the break, as former Blues triallist Theo Robinson but on-rushing pair Taylor Moore and Harry Bunn couldn’t get the final touch at  the back post.

Then Evans’ corner was met by Christian Burgess but Robinson was there to head off the line.

Pompey doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time as Dennis danced into the box and laid the ball off to Evans who lashed home a powerful finish from just outside the area.

Adam May had the first sight of goal after the restart as he lifted a shot over from a looped Matt Casey pass from Evans’ free-kick in the 59th minute.

The game then descended into a malaise with little produced from either side in terms of clear chances, on a night which proved a comfortable one for Alex Bass in the Pompey goal.

Read fired over from 20 yards with four minutes left as the visitors comfortably saw the game out.

Pompey will now look to see who they face in Thursday’s draw with the likes of Manchester City under-21s, Sunderland, Bury and Bristol Rovers still involved.