Third defeat in a row as Stevenage lose to Portsmouth

Tom Conlon

Tom Conlon - Credit: Archant

Stevenage fell to a third Sky Bet League Two loss in a row without scoring a goal as they went down 2-0 to Portsmouth at the Lamex Stadium.

Goals in either half for the promotion chasers from Marc McNulty and substitute Kai Naismith sealed three points this afternoon (Saturday).

Caretaker Stevenage boss Darren Sarll went into the game without any changes to the starting XI from the side which lost 2-0 to Exeter City last time out.

And the team from Fratton Park were pegged back early on by the hosts as they forced a couple of corners which proved harmless.

Portsmouth responded and Gary Roberts’ effort from distance was too close to home stopper Jamie Jones after 16 minutes.

Boro’s best hopes of the half continued to come from corners and Fraser Franks got forward to nod one off target delivered by Michael Tonge.

The former Sheffield United man then went close from another set piece, this time from the right by Tom Conlon, however his overhead kick was too high.

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The opening goal came on 21 minutes as Stevenage lost possession in their own half as Lee Cox was robbed by Roberts.

He set McNulty away and his tidy low finish beat Jones.

Soon after the opener midfielder Conlon went close a couple of times as his side looked to level.

Firstly he got into the box and saw his shot held by Ryan Fulton, before heading over from a Tonge ball into the area.

At the other end, the dangerous Elliott Bennett found space to bobble a 20-yarder through to the grateful Jones.

As the half came to a close, yet another Boro corner brought a chance.

Tonge delivered from the right, the ball was punched clear by Fulton to the edge of the box where Cox controlled and volleyed wide of the target.

The second half again saw Stevenage start brightly.

After winning a free-kick on the edge of the box, Conlon’s deadball effort was tipped over by Fulton.

Portsmouth went close to doubling their advantage with a Roberts double attempt, he was first denied by Jones before firing a second effort into the side-netting.

Stevenage teen star Ben Kennedy was introduced for Cox after an hour and almost made an immediate impact.

His cross from the right found Tom Pett and his goundbound shot was blocked by the head of team-mate Byron Harrison.

A pulsating period then saw an Evans shot for Pompey beat Jones, but Wilkinson cleared off the line.

Kennedy was involved again soon after as he found Pett and his curler flew over.

Things threatened to boil over with 15 minutes to go as Henry fouled Bennett and hauled him to the ground afterwards, despite a melee nothing warranted further action.

The game was settled with 10 minutes to go as Portsmouth broke and Bennett slipped Naismith through clear on goal and he lifted the ball over the exposed Jones and in.

In the driving rain, Conlon hit a late free-kick wide and then smashed a thunderbolt against the crossbar, but despite his fine contribution to the afternoon his side fell to defeat.

Stevenage: Jones, Wilkinson, Cox (Kennedy 59), Franks, Hedges (Marriott 71), Pett (Parrett 79), Harrison, Tonge, Henry (c), Ogilvie, Conlon.

Subs. Day, Wells, Johnson, Gorman.

Portsmouth: Fulton, Davies, Stevens, Webster, Burgess, Doyle (c), McNulty (Smith 70), Roberts (Naismith 70), Bennett (Freeman 84), Evans, Hollands.

Subs: Bass, Barton, Chaplin, Clarke.

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