The Richie Barker era failed to get off to a positive start as Pompey lost to Newport for the second time in just over a month.
were some good chances created by the hosts, with Patrick Agyemang
having an effort cleared off the line and Jed Wallace twice striking the
Christian Jolley was wasteful at the
other end, but second half strikes from Adam Chapman and Michael Flynn
secured victory for County.
Barker made four changes from the side that had drawn with Wycombe 10 days earlier.
Connolly skippered the Blues alongside Agyemang up front, while there
were also starts for Thery Racon in midfield and Yassin Moutaouakil at
Ryan Bird, Johnny Ertl and Wallace
all dropped to the bench, with Danny East not involved after injuring
his neck against the Chairboys.
It looked the
visitors had won an early penalty when the linesman flagged after Jolley
went down in the box under pressure from Dan Potts.
the Fratton faithful breathed a collective sigh of relief when the
officials decided that the original contact had taken place outside the
area and only awarded a free-kick.
playing a fluid 3-4-3 system – then had another opportunity, but Flynn
could only drill the ball straight into Trevor Carson’s arms.
were playing at a high-tempo, although they only had half-chances from
Andy Barcham and Racon to show for their efforts in the opening stages.
County should have broken the deadlock on 14 minutes when Jolley
somehow failed to connect with a cross from left, despite being left in
acres of space.
Pompey finally clicked into
gear a few moments later and a neat passing move ended with Connolly
curling a shot just over from the edge of the box.
they almost took the lead on 24 minutes, with Connolly and Agyemang
linking-up nicely before the latter saw his low drive cleared off the
line by Andy Sandell.
The Blues began to take
control as the half progressed and had another great chance when Joe
Devera headed Ricky Holmes’ free-kick back across goal, but there was no
blue-shirted player there to meet the ball.
Shaun Cooper then flicked another dangerous Holmes cross inches over the crossbar as the hosts tried to make their count.
Pompey’s recent defensive frailties almost cost them as they failed to
get the ball clear and Harry Worley headed narrowly wide from David
They were back on the attack just
before the break, however, and Potts’ free-kick evaded everyone as it
curled just past the post.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Newport 0
was plenty of festive fun at the break as three secret Santas were
unmasked to reveal former Fratton favourites Svetoslav Todorov, Linvoy
Primus and Alan Knight.
Unfortunately there was not much entertainment on the pitch as the second half got off to an extremely slow start.
Things livened up on 59 minutes, however, as both sides had great chances just seconds apart.
Agyemang rose highest to meet Holmes’ corner, but his header was palmed
away by County keeper Lenny Pidgeley and Pipe hacked clear.
visitors went straight down the other end and Robbie Willmott sent a
fine low cross into the box that Jolley somehow diverted into the side
But Newport were ahead on 64 minutes as Ryan Jackson pulled the ball back for Chapman to lash into the roof of the net.
Barker reacted immediately, making a double switch as Bird and Wallace replaced Agyemang and Holmes.
But things quickly got worse for the Blues as Flynn arrived inside the box to convert a cross from the left.
were agonisingly close to pulling one back on 83 minutes when Wallace
turned Connolly’s cut-back onto the post and Barcham’s follow-up was
then pushed away by Pidgeley.
Wallace found the woodwork again soon after, this time clipping the top of the bar with a drifting cross from the right.
Pompey were unable to find a way back into the game, however, as Barker’s reign started with a defeat.
Carson; Moutaouakil, Devera, Bradley, Potts; Barcham, Racon, Cooper
(Ferry 80), Holmes (Wallace 66); Agyemang (Bird 66), Connolly (c)
Booked: Potts, Cooper
Subs not used: Sullivan, N’Gala, Ertl, Padovani
Pidgeley; Worley, Oshilaja, Sandell; Pipe, Chapman, Flynn (Minshull
85), Jackson; Washington (Crow 42), Jolley (Naylor 80), Willmott
Goals: Chapman 64, Flynn 67
Booked: Oshilaja, Pidgeley, Worley
Subs not used: James, Barker
Referee: Darren Deadman
Attendance: 15,295 (864 away fans)