Portsmouth 0 Crewe Alexandra 1
Crewe’s George Ray scored 13 minutes from time to deal a blow to Portsmouth’s automatic promotion hopes as the Blues suffered a 1-0 defeat at Fratton Park.
Paul Cook’s side went into the game knowing a win could leave them in the top three. However, the home side had only themselves to blame, after a string of missed chances left fans frustrated at the full-time whistle.
The first few attacks of the game from both sides didn’t amount to a great deal, with the best effort for the home side coming from an Enda Stevens Cross which was met by Eoin Doyle, but the on-loan Irishman failed to hit the target with his header.
Although nothing much was happening when Pompey went forward, the Blues were also making sure that the visitors has as little success when they ventured forward. This didn’t stop Crewe winning the first corner of the game, but some good defending by Pompey meant this came to nothing.
The first half ended with neither side able to create a really threatening shot on goal. Though this was a good state of affairs for the visitors, who sat just two places above the relegation zone, for the home side who had their sights set on the top three, something would have to change in the second half.
Any hope that the near 17,000 fans had that the second half would be better than the first, evaporated as the clock ticked towards the hour mark with no real noteworthy chances being created by either side.
Pompey’s first corner of the second half did not occur until around the 75 minute mark. Crewe were able to counter-attack as the set piece did not clear the first defender and the visitor’s shot rebounded behind off the foot of Enda Stevens. From this corner, the Railwaymen saw the initial effort cleared off the line by Blues’ substitute, Connor Chaplain but the ball found Ray, who’s left footed shot beat David Forde in the home goal, as the deadlock was broken.
The home side pushed on after conceding in search of an equaliser. Although there were a couple of chances from free-kicks, nothing much was done with either of them by Kal Naismith, and the team who started the day in 20th position in League Two held on for a vital three points in their bid to stay in the Football League.
After the game, Blues’ boss, Paul Cook, was magnanimous in defeat saying “For a large percentage of the game we were second best at everything and second to everything. I think the better team on the day won so we’ve got to acknowledge the fact that Crewe were better than us”.
Cook also admitted that as teams receive plaudits when they play well, so they should be prepared to accept criticism when results do not go as they would like. He said “We deserve criticism today as a club, as a team and we have to take it on board”.
The frustration was clear to see from the Pompey manager but despite the result from this game, the club are still in a good position to be able to gain automatic promotion. Even if this is not achieved, a play-off spot is looking like it is an almost guaranteed back-up option, although this may not be the fans’ number one choice, it is not a bad place to be in as we approach the final month of the season.