Match report: Portsmouth 2-0 Luton Town
Tubbs 3, Taylor 62
The Town fell to their fourth successive defeat away from Kenilworth Road – despite a spirited showing at Fratton Park.
Matt Tubbs volleyed the home side in front after just three minutes only for the Town to boss the remainder of the first half.
The Hatters also started the second half brightly, but were punished for not taking their chances when Pompey doubled their lead shortly after the hour when Ryan Taylor lashed home from 12 yards.
That goal gave the Town a mountain to climb, and despite huffing and puffing in search of a way back into the game, the home side held on to record a comfortable victory and inflict a fifth defeat in six League 2 games on John Still’s side.
The Hatters began showing two changes to the side that lost at home to Morecambe last Saturday with Alex Lawless and Andy Drury starting in place of Jonathan Smith and Scott Griffiths.
For the Town’s first visit to Fratton Park in 10 years, the Hatters were backed by almost 3,000 travelling supporters but the Town faithful’s noise was replaced by the cheers of the Portsmouth fans on three minutes when the hosts took the lead. Jed Wallace’s right-wing cross found Tubbs in the six yard box and the predatory striker struck an unerring volley into the top corner.
The home side’s good start looked to have rattled the Town and Wallace almost found Tubbs again with low cross only for the Hatters to clear.
But after that chance it was the Hatters who enjoyed the majority of possession in the first half. Cameron McGeehan came closest to levelling when charging down goalkeeper Paul Jones’ kick, only to see his block roll wide of the post. Lawless, making his first start in Luton colours since late October, was mighty close to scoring a stunning goal when his 35-yard drive flew inches over the crossbar after Pompey half-cleared Luke Guttridge’s corner.
The Town were forced into a substitution at the break, with Stephen McNulty replaced by Fraser Franks after the skipper had taken two knocks in the opening half.
But the Hatters continued from where they left off at the beginning of the second period and came close when Mark Cullen, Lawless and Drury all saw shots blocked in the space of 30 seconds in a move five minutes after the restart.
You felt the Town needed the next goal, especially given they had seen plenty of the ball, but after frustrating their own supporters with some sloppy play, Portsmouth upped the ante.
Wallace saw a low shot strike the foot of the post but then, just after the hour, Pompey doubled their lead. Tubbs swung a boot the ball in the box but the loose ball fell kindly for Taylor who needed no invitation to lash home a fierce drive from 15 yards to make it 2-0.
That goal really knocked the stuffing out of the Town, but to their credit they continued to look for a way back into the game despite never really testing keeper Jones.
But, such was the Town’s luck, when they did beat the Pompey stopper, the home side were still able to clear. Cullen’s header was hacked off the line and then, with just two minutes left, Luke Wilkinson’s towering header was also kicked off the line with the keeper beaten to deny the Hatters a consolation.
Six added minutes were added at the end of the 90 but the Hatters couldn’t find a way back and that was that.
Next stop: Newport on Tuesday night. See you then.
Town: Justham; Harriman, Howells, McNulty (sub Franks 46), Wilkinson; McGeehan, Drury, Guttridge, Whalley (sub Oduwa 63), Lawless, Cullen (sub Benson 75).
Subs not used: King, Robinson, Stockley, Lee.
Attendance: 17,149, including a magnificent 2,680 Hatters fans.