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SMITH ON TARGET IN FRIENDLY TRIUMPH

14 March 2016

Naismith and May also score against Crawley

Pompey fought from behind to beat Crawley 3-2 in the latest friendly at their Copnor training base.

But the margin of victory might have been greater, as the hosts incredibly struck the woodwork four times in the opening 15 minutes.

Goals from Kal Naismith, Michael Smith and Adam May eventually saw the Blues home at a crawl rather than a canter

Crawley had taken the lead with their first meaningful attack on 34 minutes, with Roarie Deacon’s shot somehow squirming through Alex Bass’ grasp and trickling into the net.

That came after waves of incessant Pompey pressure, which almost resulted in two goals in the opening seconds.

First Naismith drew a smart save from Callum Preston before Conor Chaplin rolled the ball against the post when he looked odds-on to score.

A lovely ball from Ben Close then found Chaplin and he produced a clever back-heel to tee-up strike partner Adam McGurk.

But his effort cannoned back off the crossbar, while Naismith’s follow-up attempt was kept out by Preston.

If they were to be judged as narrow let-offs for the visitors, then their next escape was worthy of Houdini.

Adam May’s strike looked to be heading in, but instead rattled the bar and McGurk suffered the same fate as he tried to convert the rebound.

So there was unsurprisingly an acute sense of injustice upon falling behind before Pompey finally made their dominance count.

Chaplin’s low cross from the left looked to have been comfortably dealt with, but NAISMITH nicked the ball off a dithering defender and fired home.

Half Time: Pompey 1 Crawley 1

The Blues began the second half as they had the first, with Preston denying Ben Tollitt after he had burst into the box.

McGurk’s ball over the top then sent Chaplin racing clear, but rather than pulling the trigger, he tried to square for Naismith and the ball was cleared.

The hosts were not having it all their own way and a long ball left Shamir Fenelon bearing down on goal.

Bass stood his ground, however, forcing the striker out wide and allowing the Pompey defence to get back and deal with the danger.

Deacon then tried his luck with a curling shot which floated just a few inches the wrong side of the post.

But the Blues forged ahead for the first time on 68 minutes following good link-up play between the Jack Whatmough and Tollitt, with the latter’s low cross turned home by SMITH, who had only been on the pitch for a few minutes.

Tollitt and Smith combined again moments later, but this time Preston got down to tip the striker’s shot around the post.

Pompey did manage to strengthen their advantage, however, as Smith turned provider, advancing into the box before setting up MAY to hit home.

But Crawley did not give up and substitute Patrick grabbed their second from close range to leave the hosts hanging on.

Pompey: Bass; Barton, Whatmough, Clarke; Tollitt (Haitham 81), Close, Naismith (Oxlade-Chamberlain 81), May (Joseph-Buadi 81), Haunstrup; Chaplin, McGurk (Smith 65)

Crawley: Preston, Alper (Baio 67), McNerney, Yorwerth, Walton (Aryan 67), Bawling, Young, Tomlin, Fenelon (Patrick 67), Deacon, Barnard

Referee: Dan Sullivan

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