Portsmouth 0-0 Ipswich Town - Half-Time
Saturday, 21st Dec 2019 16:06
Town’s game at Portsmouth remains 0-0 at half-time after a feisty first period.
Skipper Luke Chambers and Toto Nsiala returned to a three-man backline as manager Paul Lambert made four changes from last week’s 2-1 home defeat by Bristol Rovers.
Chambers, who missed the last two with a neck injury, was on the right of the trio with Nsiala in the middle and Luke Woolfenden on the left.
Gwion Edwards, suspended last week, was at right wing-back and Luke Garbutt on the left. Will Norris came in for Tomas Holy in goal.
In midfield, Cole Skuse was joined by Flynn Downes and Jon Nolan, while James Norwood partnered Will Keane up front.
Andre Dozzell, Kayden Jackson, James Wilson and Holy dropped to the bench, alongside Janoi Donacien, who missed last week’s match through illness.
Pompey made three changes with Andy Cannon, Ryan Williams and Christian Burgess, who was back after a one-match ban, in for James Bolton, Marcus Harness and John Marquis, who drop to the bench.
Former Blues striker Ellis Harrison started as the lone frontman in a 4-2-3-1 system, while another ex-Town frontman Brett Pitman was among the subs.
Prior to kick-off there was a minute’s applause for former Portsmouth player Ron Saunders, ex-manager Jim Smith and D-Day veteran and long-time Pompey boardroom steward John Jenkins MBE, all of whom died recently.
Former Blues striker Harrison was booked within the first 15 seconds for a very late tackle on his ex-skipper Chambers after charging down a clearance from the Town centre-half.
In the fourth minute Pompey broke and Ryan Williams cut in from the right and hit a shot which Norris saved down to his left. Nsiala cleared the loose ball.
On seven Nsiala joined Harrison in referee Brett Huxtable’s book for a shirt pull on the former Blues striker, although the Town defender looked to have had his jersey grabbed first.
The game had got off to a scruffy start having been frequently punctuated by freekicks, but with Pompey seeing most of the ball and on 13 Norris was forced into another save.
A low pass into the area was deflected into the path of Ross McCrorie, who hit a shot which Norris pushed past the post to his left.
Town were trying to get their passing going but all too often the ball would be misplaced or overhit.
In the 21st minute Ronan Curtis turned and shot from the edge of the box but the ball flew well over
A minute later, Nsiala was adjudged to have fouled Harrison midway inside the Town half with the Pompey crowd and players calling for a second yellow card, while the Blues claimed that the Town defender had got the ball, which looked to be the case. Thankfully for Town and Nsiala, referee Huxtable kept his cards in his pocket.
In the 25th minute, after another scruffy passage of play with Town unable to fully clear the danger from their area, Ben Close hit a low effort from 20 yards which gave Norris no trouble.
The Blues had their first foray into the Pompey box a minute later but Keane’s low cutback caught a home defender and ran behind his team-mates.
Edwards was booked for a foul on Curtis in the 27th minute not too far outside the Town box to the left. The Irish international hit the freekick against the wall, the ball was looped back in by Close and Harrison headed weakly to Norris.
Two minutes later, with the Blues having a spell on top around the Pompey box, Garbutt looped towards the edge of the six-yard area and Sean Raggett almost diverted the ball into the path of Chambers, who had pushed forward, however, Portsmouth keeper Craig MacGillivray claimed just ahead of the Town skipper.
The home fans again called for a second Nsiala yellow card on the half hour but referee Huxtable deemed, probably correctly, that the Town defender had been the player fouled initially.
Pompey skipper Burgess got his name in referee Huxtable’s book for a late challenge on Nolan moments later, Garbutt smashing the freekick and then the rebound into the wall.
Town were showing signs of getting on top, as rain began to fall very heavily, even if keeper MacGillivray was still to be seriously tested.
The Blues made an early change in the 37th minute, replacing Nsiala, who was in danger of getting booked for a second time, with Alan Judge. Manager Lambert had a lengthy consoling word in the subbed defender’s ear as he made his way off the field.
Town stuck with a back three but with Skuse on the right, Woolfenden in the centre and Chambers on the left.
Six minutes before the break, Harrison was fortunate not to be penalised for catching Chambers from behind on the touchline, the Blues’ captain losing his boot.
Referee Huxtable somehow failed to see the challenge as a foul, while Downes pointed out the number of fouls Harrison had committed over the course of the half since being booked in the opening seconds.
Portsmouth were forced into a substitution in the 42nd minute when McCrorie picked up a knock. James Bolton took over.
After three uneventful minutes of injury time, referee Huxtable brought a somewhat combative half to an end, Town keeper Norris and manager Lambert both having words with him as the official made his way off, presumably about Harrison’s late challenge on Chambers, which really ought to have yielded the Welshman’s second booking. There had appeared to be little love between the Pompey striker and his former team-mates.
The Blues had taken a while to get going with the game having been very stop-start due to the regular interruptions for freekicks.
However, Pompey had been unable to create a serious chance, nothing beyond shots from distance, and Town had gradually started to get on top, with Judge starting to add some urgency in the final minutes, albeit without carving out an opening.
Portsmouth: MacGillivray, McCrorie (Bolton 42), Burgess, Raggett, Walkes, Close, Naylor (c), Williams, Cannon, Curtis, Harrison. Subs: Bass, Downing, Evans, Harness, Marquis, Pitman.
Town: Norris, Woolfenden, Chambers (c), Nsiala (Judge 38), Edwards, Skuse, Downes, Nolan, Garbutt, Keane, Norwood. Subs: Holy, Donacien, Wilson, Dozzell, Huws, Jackson. Referee: Brett Huxtable (Devon). Att: 18,801 (Town: 1,994).
Photo: Stephen Waller
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