Smith seals important Pompey victory

Michael Smith opens the scoring for Pompey Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith opens the scoring for Pompey Picture: Joe Pepler
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Michael Smith was the hero as Pompey battled to a 1-0 win over Carlisle at Fratton Park.

Smith’s expertly-poached 57th-minute goal closed the gap on the automatic promotion spots to five points.

Pompey turned up the heat on the Cumbrians after the break and had further chances to save a nervous finale.

Adam McGurk cracked a shot off the post with 11 minutes left, but there were relieved faces among the home fans when Hallam Hope missed from a yard out with seven minutes left.

Sub Jabo Ibehre also missed a good late chance as Pompey held on for a big win.

It proved an open start to the game and Gary Roberts was unlucky not to put Pompey in front after six minutes.

His header from Adam McGurk’s cross was on its way until it hit Mark Ellis, who knew little about it.

Danny Hollands volley then was smashed well over the top in the ninth minute, before Ben Davies whistled a 30-yard free-kick just wide three minutes later.

The best chance of the half went to the visitors, though, after 14 minutes when Mark Ellis had time and space in the box but blazed over on the angle from 10 yards.

Enda Stevens then saw his shot blocked after a charge forward and Hollands was again off-beam with the follow up.

It was Pompey who were having the volume of openings and McGurk’s cross was agonisingly just behind Smith and got a nick to deflect away from Bennett’s run.

Carlisle were having their moments, though, and Jason Kennedy twice dragged shots wide at the end of the half.

Pompey started with the impetus after the break with Smith just offside from McGurk’s pass as he almost broke clean through.

The crowd were getting lifted by the energy shown by the Blues as they upped their game.

And the reward came with the opener after 59 minutes as Smith expertly snaffled away the loose ball, as Mark Gillespie failed to hold Bennett’s 20-yard curler.

That paved the way for a period of Blues dominance as they took control of the game with the home crowd enjoying themselves.

And McGurk was inches away from settling it after 79 minutes when he advanced and cracked a shot off the post.

Smith then had a 20 yarder saved before an incredible miss from Hope.

Derek Asamoah put the ball across the face of goal but the former Blues target somehow didn’t apply the last touch from a yard out.

And sub Ibehre volleyed over at the death as Pompey had a couple moments of late fortune to see out the win.