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Northampton 0 Pompey 1

21 April 2014

East goal secures victory at Sixfields Stadium

Pompey celebrated League Two survival with a 1-0 victory at struggling Northampton.

Danny East scored the only goal of the game in the early stages as the Blues recorded a fifth straight triumph.

They came under a fair bit of second half pressure, but held on to send the noisy travelling supporters home with plenty of cheer.

Andy Awford made eight changes from the side that beat Bristol Rovers on Saturday.

Trevor Carson, Nicky Shorey and Jed Wallace were the only survivors from that Fratton triumph.

Daniel Alfei, Joe Devera and Sonny Bradley all returned to the defence, while Wes Fogden and Johnny Ertl came into the centre of midfield.

East made his first start since the goalless home draw with Northampton just after Christmas wide on the right.

Jake Jervis was given a role wide on the left in a 4-1-4-1 formation, while Patrick Agyemang led the line.

The hosts, meanwhile, included former Blues loanee John Marquis in their starting line-up.

Pompey were handed a boost before kick-off as news filtered through that Bristol Rovers had been beaten by Rochdale, confirming their League Two status for another season.

Northampton – still in desperate need of points – started lively and looked to get at their opponents early on.

But the Blues had momentum with four successive victories behind them and broke the deadlock after just six minutes.

Alfei’s deep free-kick was flicked on by Jervis and EAST was on hand to confidently stab the ball past Cobblers keeper Matt Duke.

Pompey looked full of confidence going forward and Northampton’s defence struggled to cope with their quick attacks.

But the hosts should have been level on 30 minutes when Evan Horwood swung a dangerous cross into the box and an unmarked Emile Sinclair somehow failed to make contact.

That still seemed to buoy the Cobblers, however, and there were half chances for Chris Hackett and Ricky Ravenhill as they pushed for an equaliser.

Marquis then drew an impressive near-post save from Carson after beating Alfei inside the Blues box.

And the keeper made an even better stop just before the break, flinging himself to his right to parry clear Darren Carter’s close-range effort.

Half Time: Northampton 0 Pompey 1

The hosts were keen to make a quick impression after the interval and East had to head Hackett’s free-kick behind before substitute Ivan Toney tested Carson.

A training ground free-kick routine then ended with Horwood firing well wide from the edge of the box.

Awford made his first change on 54 minutes as Jervis made way for Danny Hollands in Pompey’s midfield.

And a second switch soon followed as the hard-working Agyemang was replaced by Michael Drennan up front.

The Cobblers went close to a leveller in between those two substitutions, but Mathias Kouo-Doumbe could not quite connect with a corner.

Toney then missed a great opportunity on 66 minutes when he was left unmarked to collect a cross, but hit his shot into the ground and the ball bounced over.

Drennan drilled an effort straight into Duke’s arms at the other end, but Northampton were soon back on the attack and the Blues were forced to dig deep in order to clear their lines.

The ball kept being sent back into the box, however, leading to some nervy moments inside Pompey’s box.

Awford used up a few more precious seconds when East trudged off to be replaced by Ricky Holmes on 78 minutes.

He had a chance to seal victory moments later, but could only fire over from a tight angle after Bradley’s long clearance caused problems.

And Wallace then had a great opportunity on 86 minutes after being picked out by Drennan’s incisive pass, only for Duke to come tearing off his line to deny Pompey’s top scorer.

But one goal ultimately proved enough as the visitors saw out the final seconds to keep their fine run going.

Northampton (4-4-2): Duke; Tozer, Kouo-Doumbe, Robertson, Horwood; McSweeney (Morris 46), Ravenill (c) (Langmead 81), Carter, Hackett; Sinclair (Toney 46), Marquis
Booked: Toney, Horwood, Robertson
Subs not used: Snedker, Moyo, Deegan, Connell

Pompey (4-1-4-1): Carson; Alfei, Devera, Bradley, Shorey; Ertl (c); East (Holmes 78), Wallace, Fogden, Jervis (Hollands 54); Agyemang (Drennan 65)
Goals: East 6
Booked: Carson, Shorey
Subs not used: Smith, Webster, N’Gala, McCabe

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 6,829 (1,359 Pompey fans)

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