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MATCH REPORT: TOWN 2 PORTSMOUTH 2

9 January 2016

Fraser rescues a draw for Town with a late equaliser

Ryan Fraser set up a replay with an equaliser in a dramatic finish at Portman Road. 

Portsmouth were excellent over the 90 minutes and looked to be on the way into the fourth round when Conor Chaplin unleashed a left foot drive into the net four minutes from time. 

Fraser came to Blues’ rescue though, his free-kick beating everyone to find the far corner two minutes later. 

Tommy Oar had given Town the lead early in the second-half with his first goal for the Club but the League Two club were level immediately through Kyle Bennett. 

Both sides could have won it in added on time, Brian Murphy saving well from  Freddie Sears but the visitors certainly deserved their replay.

Paul Digby was handed his debut in a number of changes for Town as Mick McCarthy freshened his line-up ahead of another busy schedule of Championship games this week.

Digby, who has joined on loan from Barnsley with a view to a permanent move, was immediately in the action, coming to Blues’ rescue with a brilliant block to prevent Marc McNulty from giving Portsmouth the lead inside the first five minutes. 

It was the visitors who enjoyed the early advantage, with McNulty again causing an anxious moment in the Town box, then Adam McGurk forced a corner with a header at the back post. 

Oar responded with a strike that was deflected wide, Luke Varney, making his first start since recovering from an achilles injury, bursting clear but not before the offside flag was raised.

Pompey missed a great chance to find the net on 16 minutes, clever play down the right saw Ben Davies get on the end of Bennett’s pass and from his cross, McGurk fired well over the bar.

Former Blue, Gary Roberts, headed over as Paul Cook’s side looked the far more likely to break the deadlock although another ex-Town player, ‘keeper Brian Murphy, was called into action to save from Varney.

Bart Bialkowski had to be alert to keep out McNulty, who again found space in between Town’s backline, Murphy then smothering the danger at the other end from Varney’s cross. 

Portsmouth, backed by 2500 travelling support, pressed again with Davies free down the right but Piotr Malarczyk cleared. The chances kept coming though, the impressive Bennett forcing Bialkowski into another save.

Oar weaved his way past four Pompey shirts and almost released Varney on goal but Adam Barton cut out the danger and the half finished with another chance for Pompey not taken, Roberts’ miskicking  from a good position - the visitors unlucky to go in at the break without reward for an excellent first 45 minutes.   

Brett Pitman had a shot charged down inside the first minute of the second-half, the former Bournemouth striker then sending an ambitious volley from 30 yards over the bar. 

It was Town who broke the stalemate on 53 minutes, Varney setting up Pitman  whose shot was beaten out by Murphy’s feet but Oar was on hand to find the net from the rebound. 

Pompey were level a minute later though, a slick move released Bennett and he sidefooted the ball into the far corner. 

Fraser replaced Ainsley Maitland-Niles just short of the hour in Town’s first change, Tommy Smith on for Digby soon after. 

The momentum remained with the visitors, Bialkowski saving well at the nearpost from McNulty, Varney heading over at the other end as Blues looked to get a grip on the game. 

Pitman forced a corner as Pompey struggled to deal with Fraser’s cross, Town then making a final change with Freddie Sears joining the action for Varney. Adam May on for Ben Close for Paul Cook’s side at the same time.

Bialkowski held on from McNulty’s drive, before Roberts - who received a warm ovation from the Town fans - made way for Chaplin for the closing stages.  

Sears and Fraser carved open the Portsmouth defence as Town pressed for the advantage, Adam Webster clearing the danger. 

Fraser, who gave Town a new attacking edge, forced Murphy into a save as Blues, for the first time, edged the play but with a replay looking likely, Chaplin found the bottom corner with a left foot drive from the edge of the box.

That looked enough to win the game but Town won a free-kick two minutes from time and Fraser’s wicked delivery evaded Murphy and went into the far corner to set up a replay at Fratton Park.

Town: Bialkowski, Chambers, Malarcyzk, Digby (Smith 62), Knudsen, Skuse, Hyam, Maitland-Niles (Fraser 58), Oar, Varney (Sears 73), Pitman. Subs not used: Gerken, Kenlock, Tabb, Bru. Booked: Skuse.

Pompey: Murphy, Davies, Barton, Webster, Stevens, Hollands (Haunstrup 81), Close (May 73), Roberts (Chaplin 77), McNulty, Bennett, McGurk. Subs not used: Bass, Boco, Tollitt, Evans. Booked: Barton.
Att: 17,020



 





  







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