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28 March 2015

Grant double downs Blues

Shrewsbury continued their promotion charge with a comfortable victory over Pompey.

The Blues never really looked like getting anything from the game and a goal in each half was enough to condemn them to defeat.

Bobby Grant got them both with a couple of fine long-range strikes to ensure the Shrews’ 100 per cent losing record at Fratton Park was brought to an end.

Andy Awford stuck with the same side that were narrowly beaten at AFC Wimbledon the previous week.

That meant loan defenders Nyron Nosworthy and Cole Kpekawa were both handed home debuts.

There was a familiar face in the opposition line-up, with former Blues captain Liam Lawrence wearing the armband for Shrewsbury.

The match was extremely slow to get going, although the hosts had a couple of early crosses into the box that had to be dealt with.

It was the visitors who were first to have a genuine goalscoring opportunity on 19 minutes, however.

Paul Jones came off his line to punch a corner clear and Kpekawa made a timely block to prevent Jermaine Grandison from tucking away the loose ball.

Cameron Gayle was next to go close for the Shrews with an angled drive that Jones just about kept out with his feet.

But they made their pressure county midway through the first half, as Lawrence teed-up Grant to break the deadlock with a fine finish from 25 yards.

Pompey were struggling to create anything at the other end, with Jayson Leutwiler a virtual spectator between the sticks for Shrewsbury.

Jones was having a slightly busier afternoon and beat away a James Collins effort on 40 minutes, with Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro unable to convert the rebound.

The Blues were dealt a further blow just before the break when Danny East had to go off, with Wes Fogden replacing him on the right.

And there was still time for one last chance for Town when, following a quick counter-attack, Kpekawa made a last-gasp challenge to stop Grandison doubling their advantage.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Shrewsbury 1

The visitors came roaring out of the traps at the start of the second half and almost scored straight from kick-off.

Akpa Akpro burst down the left, cut inside and drilled in a low shot that clipped the outside of the post.

But Pompey finally created a decent opening of their own on 54 minutes as Leutwiler parried Jed Wallace’s shot.

The loose ball fell kindly for Fogden inside the area, but Mickey Demetriou threw himself at the midfielder’s effort to make a vital block.

The hosts kept plugging away, with Wallace doing his best to create openings for Tubbs and Ryan Taylor.

But they fell further behind on 66 minutes when, after the Blues failed to clear their lines, Grant fired home another fine finish.

Danny Hollands soon made way for Conor Chaplin – who had netted hat-tricks for both the reserve and academy sides in the previous seven days – as Awford tried to find a route back into the game.

And Paul McCallum replaced Taylor on 78 minutes as the Blues boss made one final throw of the dice.

But they were unable to find a way through the Shrewsbury defence as the fans started to stream out of the ground.

Pompey (3-5-2): Jones; Devera, Nosworthy, Chorley (c); East (Fogden 41), Dunne, Wallace, Hollands (Chaplin 70), Kpekawa; Tubbs, Taylor (McCallum 78)
Booked: Nosworthy, Dunne
Subs not used: Cornell, Butler, Close, Atangana

Shrewsbury (3-5-2): Leutwiler; Ellis, Goldson, Grandison; Gayle, Lawrence (c), Woods, Grant, Demetriou; Collins (Mangan 88), Akpa Akpro (Barnett 84)
Goals: Grant 25, 66
Subs not used: Halstead, Clark, Southern, Vernon, Mandron

Referee: Lee Collins

Attendance: 14,749 (590 away fans)

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