Matt Clarke nets stoppage-time winner at Burton Albion to keep Portsmouth firmly in automatic promotion race

Matt Clarke's last-gasp winner gave Pompey a massive boost in the race for League One automatic promotion.

Saturday, 20th April 2019, 5:54 pm
Updated Sunday, 21st April 2019, 7:57 pm
Pompey celebrate Ben Close's opener at Burton. Picture: Joe Pepler

The centre-back slotted home following a scramble in the Burton box on 92 minutes to secure a 2-1 victory for the Blues at the Pirelli Stadium.

It looked as though Kenny Jackett's men would have to settle for a point after Ben Close's first-half opener was cancelled out by Liam Boyce's header after 47 minutes.

But Clarke struck in stoppage-time to move Pompey into third, for at least a few hours, and keep them two points off second-placed Barnsley with a game in hand.

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Burton applied the early pressure, with Jamie Allen coming close to breaking the deadlock on 16 minutes.

The midfielder's low drive from the edge of the area went inches wide of the post after leading scorer Liam Boyce had threatened minutes before.

But it was Pompey who went ahead against the run of play just after the half-hour.

Nathan Thompson fed Close, whose superb first-time strike found the top corner from the Blues' first meaningful attempt.

And Jackett's men continued to stand firm as they came under increased pressure having gone in front

Boyce and Lucas Akins both saw goalbound efforts blocked following fine work from Marcus Harness.

Clarke was then on hand to intercept Scott Fraser's fierce drive soon after, with Nigel Clough's side in the ascendancy.

The Brewers did get the goal their pressure deserved just two minutes into the second half.

Colin Daniel's delicious delivery was headed home by an unmarked Boyce at the back post.

Both sides were launching attacks in a pulsating opening after the restart.

The Blues nearly restored their lead but Christian Burgess' powerful header was tipped over by Stephen Bywater having met Gareth Evans' free-kick on 57 minutes.

Substitute Bryn Morris then spurned a great chance as Pompey chased what could prove a key goal in the race for automatic promotion.

Lee Brown's cross found an unmarked Morris, but the midfielder ballooned his attempt well over from inside the area.

But Pompey would grab a late winner. Burton failed to clear the danger from Ronan Curtis after a scramble and Clarke fired home.

Despite protests of offside and handball from the home side, the goal stood.

Pompey moved up to third but dropped a place following Sunderland’s defeat of Doncaster in the late kick-off.