Portsmouth reserves fall to disappointing defeat at Exeter

A strong Pompey reserves side fell to a disappointing 2-1 Premier League Cup defeat at Exeter.

Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 8:56 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th February 2020, 10:42 pm
Jack Whatmough scored for Pompey reserves at Exeter. Picture: Joe Pepler

Ben Seymour and Jordan Dyer were on target for the Grecians either side of half-time, while Jack Whatmough scored a consolation for the Blues late on.

Pompey couldn’t qualify for the next round of the competition ahead of the game, having collected just one point from their opening four Group D fixtures.

Senior players Whatmough, Lee Brown, Paul Downing, Brandon Haunstrup, Ross McCrorie and Oli Hawkins all started for the Blues, as well as January signing Reeco Hackett-Fairchild.

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A yellow card for a foul after just two minutes meant McCrorie was walking a tightrope for the rest of the game.

The opening exchanges proved close, with Hackett-Fairchild mustering the first real chance on goal but he fired off target on 14 minutes.

And just a minute later the hosts took the lead. Joel Randall’s cross from the right was met by Ben Seymour, who applied the finish from close range.

The Blues almost equalised on 26 minutes when Hawkins latched on to a long ball that beat the Grecians defence, but saw his effort saved by Jack Arthur.

Then there was an appeal for a penalty when the Pompey striker was challenged by the home keeper in the six-yard box in the 31st minute but the referee waved play on.

Arthur then made a fine stop 12 minutes before half-time to tip Gerard Storey’s powerful effort over the bar.

Hawkins’ night ended early following a clash of heads, though, and was forced to be replaced by Alfie Stanley in the 40th minute.

Pompey continued to be in the in the ascendancy, with Adam May’s low drive being well held by Arthur after Haunstrup’s free-kick wasn’t properly cleared.

Exeter made a bright start to the second period and were awarded a free-kick seconds after the restart, but Brennan Dickenson fired well off target.

On 52 minutes, McCrorie skipped past Dickenson down the wing and delivered a cross for Stanley but he nodded over the bar.

Pompey were having little joy in their search for a leveller, with Hackett-Fairchild blazing over an effort from long range.

The ex-Bromley man was evidently getting frustrated and was booked for kicking the ball away.

It was Exeter who went the closer to finding the second goal when Harry Kite's shot forced a save out of Taylor Seymour in the visiting net.

And the home side did double their advantage with 18 minutes remaining when Jordan Dyer’s volley found the back of the net.

Whatmough gave Pompey a lifeline in the 78th minute when he headed home powerfully at the back post from a corner.

Yet it was Exeter who looked the likelier to restore their two-goal advantage and Ben Seymour just couldn’t get on the end of Joel Randall’s low cross for what would have been a simple tap-in.

Three minutes of added-time were indicated and McCrorie flashed a half-volley wide, meaning Blues condemned to a loss.

Pompey bring the curtain down on their Premier League Cup campaign when they host Aston Villa at Westleigh Park on Tuesday, February 18.

Pompey: T Seymour, McCrorie, Downing, Whatmough, Brown, May, Storey (Rew 73), Brook (Bridgman 61), Hackett-Fairchild, Haunstrup, Hawkins (Stanley 40).