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Match Reports


4 August 2018

Match Reports


4 August 2018

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Rarely will a defeat for the Hatters feel so positive after they dominated Portsmouth on their own patch but couldn't find the net on their return to League One.

Ten years they've been away but it has been even longer since Town have hit the net at Fratton Park - a hoodoo that has endured since 1995.

And having bagged 94 goals in their promotion-winning campaign last term, it will stick in the craw that they came up potless at Pompey again. They deserved so more.

In each half, the woodwork rattled, first from captain Alan Sheehan and then from James Collins.

Harry Cornick had a golden chance to level after a concerted period of pressure for 30 minutes either side of the break, but his shot was far too close to keeper Craig MacGillivary at the near post, when a far stick finish looked the best option. It was their last good chance because then centre back Matt Clarke marshalled the hosts to the final whistle.

Even more frustrating for Luton was that Jamal Lowe made them pay, 16 minutes in, for their only defensive lapse. Those are the tighter margins at play in League Two and they will have to learn from that, but their attacking play was scintillating at times.

Town started brightly but had only a glancing Cornick header, off-target, to show for their efforts before tense moments when Ronan Curtis and Sheehan tussled in the air. The Pompey player hit the deck, clutching his face and rolling around and referee Gavin Ward consulted his assistant for what seemed like an age before ruling it was nothing more than a free-kick for the hosts.

But then Town fell behind. Sheehan slipped and debutant Matty Pearson was beaten at the byline all too easily by Curtis who cutback for a waiting Jamal Lowe to stroke in from close range.

But from there, the Hatters were impressive and only an unbelievable headed clearance from Nathan Thompson, under his crossbar, denied Collins a surefire equaliser from Jorge Grant's whipping cross.

Dan Potts did likewise from the other flank and, this time, James Collins got a connection but succeeded in only heading upwards.

Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu, dynamic and exciting in the centre of midfield, skimmed a shot just wide of the upright from the edge of the penalty area, but Sheehan came ever closer. The captain's devilish free-kick smacked off the far post and back into play where, agonisingly, a host of Hatters in the penalty area couldn't get to the rebound.

Town dominated again after the break and thought they'd equalised on the hour when Elliot Lee teed up Collins, but the striker was denied by the underside of the crossbar.

Town's number 10 was then at it again, moments later, with another precision assist, threading the ball through to Cornick who was denied by keeper Craig MacGillivary.

The stopper used his feet to snuff out a low Pelly cross and a curling free-kick from Sheehan and, as the final whistle loomed, boss Nathan Jones threw on summer signing Sonny Bradley and sent the towering defender straight upfront. But the Fratton Park goal drought continued.

With a performance this good, that surely won't last.

Portsmouth: MacGillivary, Walkes (Close, 60), Brown, Clarke, Naylor, Pitman (c) (Hawkins, 45), Lowe, Curtis, Whatmough, Thompson (Burgess, 71), Haunstrup

Subs not used: McGee, Donahue, Chaplin, Evans

Goals: Lowe, 16

Yellows: Brown

Reds: None

Luton Town: Stech, Justin, Potts, McCormack (Jervis, 86), Pearson, Lee, Cornick (Shinnie, 77), Mpanzu, Grant, Collins, Sheehan (c)

Subs not used: Shea, Bradley, Stacey, Rea, Gambin

Yellows: Potts, Justin

Reds: None

Attendance: 19,018 (2,392)

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