Yeovil 0 Pompey 0: Jordan Cross’ match report

Kal Naismith had another strong game for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kal Naismith had another strong game for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
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The half-term report is in as Pompey muddled through their final examination of 2016.

And it’s going to be a case of must do better if Paul Cook’s men are to make it to the top of the class in the new year.

The lessons are there to be learnt, even if the margins are not huge if the Blues are to become the real deal in League Two.

They will begin New Year’s Eve four points outside of the top three after a 0-0 draw in the Yeovil fog.

It’s a game which will be remembered for the conditions more than the action as a beast of a pea-souper rendered large parts of the clash a lottery.

While other games bit the dust around the country in similar conditions, the two sides got on with it in trying circumstances.

Pompey will look to first-half headed misses from Matt Clarke and Michael Smith as the chances which should have delivered them a maximum return.

But Otis Khan’s late drive off the upright reminded Cook’s side it could have been a miserable end to the year.

Cook exuded confidence going into the game and will feel a tinge of disappointment at the outcome.

But it’s a return which extends the unbeaten away run to eight games and makes it a single loss from nine outings for Pompey. Reasons to be cheerful.

All the pre-match talk centred on whether we’d get a game at all as heavy fog drifted in across South Somerset.

That looked in doubt a couple of hours before kick-off, but with fog partially abating so went any fears of a late postponement.

The chat was soon focused on Pompey’s line-up as Cook made good on his promise to ‘get after’ Darren Way’s side.

Despite employing the same side as the win at Newport County, Cook switched to a 4-3-3 from the 4-4-2 which came from behind to grab the Boxing Day win.

The game was given the go-ahead but it was soon clear the conditions were going to play a major part in the action with visibility poor.

Ben Whitfield, Kal Naismith and Tom Eaves all tried their luck early on, but failed to work either keeper.

Naismith’s confident form has seen him back in the side for the past three games,

And he was showing why he’s back in the equation with the Scot at the heart of the Blues’ best early play.

A 13th-minute angled drive forced Artur Krysiak to tip his effort over.

Naismith then provided the supply from the corner which Matt Clarke should have done better with, as he headed wide.

Three minutes later and Smith certainly should have given his team the lead. Naismith was once again the architect, but the striker failed to work Krysiak. It was a big miss.

The conditions were having an impact on the action as sub Bevis Mugabi misjudged a crossfield ball, allowing Carl Baker the space to find a cross.

His effort failed to find a blue shirt, however.

Then it was Nathan Smith’s turn to struggle with visibility as he failed to see Krysiak coming for a cross and was floored by his keeper.

Noel Hunt was busying himself in typical fashion but couldn’t quite connect with the ball on a near-post run from Rose’s cross 17 minutes before the break.

Khan then popped a 30-yard free-kick into Forde’s grateful arms as the pea-soup thickened.

Krysiak pulled out a top-drawer stop to deny Naismith from 10 yards, but saw the assistant referee’s flag render his effort worthless.

Yeovil fans appealed for handball following a melee before the break – which raised amusement considering the visibility.

Smith then forced his Glovers namesake into a mistake, allowing Hunt to pick up the pieces – but Krysiak comfortably held his 25-yard drive.

Forde was equal to Tahvon Campbell’s weak shot on the turn before Stevens was fouled by Kevin Dawson.

That allowed Carl Baker to tee up Doyle whose drive was deflected wide in the last action of the half.

Clarke had to have his concentration levels at their best as he averted the threat of Khan with a strong challenge just 22 seconds after the restart.

Hunt’s angled drive then saw Krysiak display textbook handling after 54 minutes. Likewise Forde from Whitfield’s effort moments later.

Pompey were appealing for a penalty 12 minutes after the restart, but there were no complaints from Naismith when it wasn’t given as he went down a little too theatrically over Smith’s foot.

Baker then dragged his shot wide with 30 minutes left as the Blues again failed to work Krysiak.

Burgess had to be at his sharpest to head another threatening cross away from the ever-dangerous Khan as the action pepped up.

Likewise Yeovil’s Smith moments later, as he denied Smith a tap-in from a few yards out from Stevens’ delivery after he hit the byline.

Smith was waiting to pounce with 13 minutes left as Stevens again delivered, but this time it was Krysiak who denied the striker.

And it was the Geordie who was once again denied by Ryan Dickson’s goal-line’s clearance with 10 minutes left. Smith met Stevens’ cross with his head which just lacked the purchase to cross the line before the left-back cleared.

It felt like a wasted chance for Pompey, but the Blues were nearly left completely empty handed as Khan blazed through and rocked the upright with a 15-yard drive.

So Cook’s side will carry mixed emotions at failing to really turn the heat on the top three.

A ‘mist’ opportunity as one wag put it.

Improvement is still needed to achieve the promotion target.

‘Improvement is in us,’ said Cook as he weighed up a second half of the season which will decided his and his side’s fate.

‘That has to be the half-term report.’