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Match Reports

Report & highlights: Portsmouth 1-1 Robins

2 November 2021

Match Reports

Report & highlights: Portsmouth 1-1 Robins

2 November 2021

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Cheltenham Town produced a performance full of character and grit to pick up a useful point in Portsmouth this evening.

Lewis Freestone's goal, the first of his young career, handed the Robins an early lead at Fratton Park but it was cancelled out before the interval by Reeco Hackett.

Again they created some great chances to add to their goal tally while at the other end, they battled manfully to restrict their hosts, a point being a the fairest outcome on the night.

Michael Duff's men face another gruelling month on the road with all but one game in November coming away from the Jonny-Rocks Stadium, however this impressive display has put them in good stead for the challenge ahead.

It came at a cost though with Mattie Pollock limping out of the game in the second half, leaving Michael Duff with some thinking to do ahead of Saturday's FA Cup first round trip to Gillingham.


"You'll always take a point at Portsmouth," the manager said afterwards.

"I thought we wre more than good value for it. I was disappointed with the goal we gave away but we scored a good one and had several good opportunities, which we didn't take. There were similarities to Saturday [against Sheffield Wednesday] but the performance was really pleasing.

"The last three or four away games we've been disappointed. We've run around but we haven't shown any courage to get on the ball. Today looked a little bit more like how we want to play. We moved the ball around with a purpose.

"We're still learning. We're still growing in this league and we're 15 games in now. To play Sheffield Wednesday and Portsmouth in four days and be more than competitive in both games shows signs of progress."

Duff made two changes to his side, recalling Freestone and Alfie May at the expense of Dan Crowley and Kyle Joseph. He reverted to a 3-5-2 formation after a couple of weeks with playing with a four-man diamond midfield and it seemed to surprise Pompey, who found themselves behind in the opening exchanges.


There were early chances for Alfie May, Matty Blair and Ellis Chapman but it was Freestone who broke the deadlock with a well taken finish after only six minutes, opening his account for the club.

Sean Long slung in an arching throw from the right, met by Mattie Pollock. His glancing header fell to a defender who inadvertently turned it back into the path of the young defender who with his back to goal, turned and planted a left foot effort beyond Gavin Bazunu, the Irish goalkeeper.

But then Pompey then began to get a foothold in the game and were particularly enjoying some success down the right.

Scott Flinders was called into his meaningful save of the night with half-hour played, tipping over a clever effort by Lewis Thompson from a tight angle down that side.

But the home side were level moments later when Mahlon Romeo picked out a cross, pushed away by Flinders into the path of Hackett who looped a header into the net.

Kyle Vassell had a fantastic opportunity to post an immediate reply but he slipped at the crucial moment after being found in the centre, unmarked, by Blair's cross from the right.


At the other end Joe Morrell, one of two former Robins in the Pompey side alongside striker John Marquis, let loose from fully 25 yards but his curling effort fizzed past the top right-hand corner of the target.

Dan Cowley's side went close five minutes after the restart, Hackett glancing Ronan Curtis' inswinger a foot wide of the right post.

Grant Horton was pressed into action after Pollock had pulled up with an injury with 56 minutes on the clock and went on to deliver another mature performance in defence.

Curtis saw a header flash past a post and Hackett's cross was decisively parried by Flinders, who then went on to produce a fine low stop to his right to deny Marquis.

There was some desperate defending at times and Curtis had a fine chance in the closing moments, meeting Marcus Harness' centre with a firm effort but he couldn't keep it down.


PORTSMOUTH (4-5-1): Bazunu; Romeo, Raggett, Ogilvie, Brown (c); Morell, Thompson (Williams 70); Harness, Hackett (Azeez 73), Curtis; Marquis (Hirst 81). Subs not used: Bass (Gk), Ahadme, Freeman, Jacobs.

CHELTENHAM TOWN (3-5-2): Flinders; Long, Pollock (Horton 56), Freestone; Blair, Sercombe (c), Thomas, Chapman (Crowley 68), Hussey; May, Vassell (Joseph 76). Subs not used: Evans (Gk), Barkers, Williams, Norton.


ATTENDANCE: 14,322 (208 from Cheltenham)

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