Pilgrims pile on the pressure at Portsmouth


Portsmouth 2 
Koroma 41 
Hackett 90 

Argyle 2 
Raggett o.g. 74 
Ennis 79  

Two top sides slugged out a fabulous match, as Argyle were once again denied by a last-minute leveller at Fratton Park. 

Portsmouth led through a Josh Koroma beauty at the end of a breathless first period but the Greens wrestled their way back into the tie via a Sean Raggett own goal and then looked to have won it with a fantastic team goal finished by substitute Niall Ennis 11 minutes from time. 

Pompey smuggled a dramatic late draw in this fixture last season and they did it again, Reeco Hackett saving his side this time around. 

Argyle boss Steven Schumacher made two changes to the side that beat 1-0 Oxford in midweek, with Jordan Houghton and Tuesday’s goalscorer Morgan Whittaker replacing Adam Randell and Danny Mayor. Teenage midfielder Will Jenkins Davies was included on the Pilgrims’ bench. 

Pompey started the weekend two points above the Greens in second place in Sky Bet League One, defeating struggling Burton 2-0 in midweek, but the only focus for everyone before kick-off was a beautifully observed minute’s silence for the HM Queen Elizabeth II and a stirring rendition of God Save the King. 

Playing in glorious sunshine, Argyle started full of purpose and poise, although Portsmouth conjured the first chance on the break, Colby Bishop nodding over from a good position with a Nigel Lonwijk challenge providing just enough distraction. 

In terms of possession and territory, the opening 15 minutes belonged to Argyle and a cross from Joe Edwards led to the first shooting chance, Matt Butcher’s effort charged down by a stretched home defence. Pompey replied with a Tom Lowery strike from distance held by Mike Cooper. 

A soft free-kick for the hosts found Bishop for a glancing header deflected wide by Dan Scarr before Cooper intervened with a super save to deny Dane Scarlett following a swift Pompey break.  

The Pilgrims responded with Ryan Hardie chasing a clever ball into the channel from Finn Azaz and laying the ball back to Butcher for a 25-yarder claimed at the second attempt by Portsmouth ‘keeper Josh Griffiths. 

Argyle had the ball in the net moments later, Azaz brilliantly shifting his feet for a shot that rebounded to Edwards. The skipper’s effort scuttled back to Azaz who poked home but the assistant’s flag stumped Pilgrim celebrations. 

Argyle’s frustration was soon matched at the other end, Pompey desperately claiming for a penalty and / or the ball crossing the line after an almighty scramble but referee James Bell was unmoved.  

The hosts did grab the lead four minutes before the break, Koroma curling a stunning finish beyond Cooper and into the top corner. Griffiths matched that brilliance at the other end, saving low to his right to thwart Butcher after a superb Argyle move. 

A frantic first period ended with Pompey scrambling clear from a corner, with Macaulay Gillesphey and Hardie both firing into the crowd. The action immediately switched back to Portsmouth, Bali Mumba somehow recovering to tackle Scarlett with the young forward bearing down on Cooper. 

Koroma attempted to repeat his party piece on 51 minutes, this time drilling into the side-netting after jinking inside from the left. Ennis for Hardie was the first Pilgrim change before the hour. 

Sam Cosgrove and Randell replaced Edwards and Houghton midway through the half, and the Greens quickly increased their tempo, Randell threading passes through the lines before a Whittaker shot from 22 yards fizzed wide. 

Brendan Galloway for Gillesphey was the next Argyle switch, as Schumacher looked to freshen the ranks for a final push, and it worked. 

A delightful pass from Lonwijk released Mumba down the right and his vicious cross toward the near post tempted Raggett into a diving headed clearance that instead flashed past his own ‘keeper to level matters. 

If the equaliser carried an element of luck, the next goal was pure class. Lonwijk threaded a lovely ball into midfield and Whittaker trumped that pass with a wonderful assist into the path of Ennis, who calmly slotted a low finish beyond the exposed Griffiths. 

The Greens almost sealed it with a tremendous counter-attack, Mumba leading the march and feeding a pass to Whittaker, who rounded Griffiths but the angle was incredibly tight, as Connor Ogilvie recovered to clear. 

Galloway was dismissed for two yellow cards in the dying seconds and Pompey somehow pinched a point through Hackett glancing the ball over the line from a quick throw. Painful for the Pilgrims but still an outstanding display, and brilliant entertainment. 

Portsmouth: 1 Josh Griffiths; 4 Clark Robertson (capt), 6 Connor Orgilvie, 7 Marlon Pack, 9 Colby Bishop, 15 Owen Dale (18 Reeco Hackett 81), 19 Dane Scarlett (10 Joe Pigott 70), 20 Sean Raggett, 26 Tom Lowery (16 Joe Morrell 40), 27 Josh Koroma (11 Ronan Curtis 70), 28 Michael Morrison. Substitutes (not used): 21 Josh Oluwayemi (gk), 2 Zak Swanson, 25 Jay Mingi. 

Booked: Pack 43, Morrison 90 

Argyle: 1 Mike Cooper; 21 Nigel Lonwijk, 6 Dan Scarr, 3 Macaulay Gillesphey (22 Brendan Galloway 70), 17 Bali Mumba, 4 Jordan Houghton (20 Adam Randell 66), 7 Matt Butcher, 8 Joe Edwards (capt) (16 Sam Cosgrove 66); 19 Morgan Whittaker, 9 Ryan Hardie (11 Niall Ennis 56), 18 Finn Azaz. Substitutes (not used): 25 Callum Burton (gk), 5 James Wilson, 44 Will Jenkins Davies. 

Booked: Galloway 89, Azaz 90 

Sent-off: Galloway 90 

Attendance: 19,009 (1,899 away) 

Referee: James Bell