Whalley and Payne give Town victory over Pompey
Town: Dean Henderson, Mat Sadler, Omar Beckles, Shaun Whalley, Abu Ogogo ©, Carlton Morris (Stefan Payne 74), James Bolton, Bryn Morris, Jon Nolan, Aristote Nsiala, Alex Rodman (Ben Godfrey 87)
Subs: Craig MacGillivray, Joe Riley, Ben Godfrey, Louis Dodds, Arthur Gnahoua, Lenell John-Lewis, Stefan Payne
Portsmouth: Luke McGee, Danny Rose, Matt Clarke, Christian Burgess, Brett Pitman © (Conor Chaplin 77), Matt Kennedy (Kyle Bennett 60), Jamal Lowe (Oliver Hawkins 60), Nathan Thompson, Gareth Evans, Ben Close, Brandon Haunstrup
Subs: Alex Bass, Oliver Hawkins, Curtis Main, Don Donohue, Conor Chaplin, Kyle Bennett, Adam May
Referee: Darren Handley
Assistant Referee: Joe Clark and Mark Cunliffe
Fourth Official: Gary Hilton
Attendance: 7429 (1094)
Shrewsbury Town went into Christmas in second-place in League One thanks to a fantastic 2-0 win over Portsmouth. Town bossed the game for large periods and second-half goals from Shaun Whalley and Stefan Payne gave them the victory. Whalley’s goal made up for an earlier poor penalty that was saved by the Portsmouth goalkeeper.
Paul Hurst sticks with the exact same starting eleven and substitutes that beat Blackpool 1-0. It means that top scorer Stefan Payne once again has to settle for a place on the bench, with the Morris boys, Bryn and Carlton, keeping their places in the team.
It was a really bright opening five minutes or so from both sides, but it was Town who felt aggrieved when referee Darren Handley failed to point to the spot as Carlton Morris went down under the challenge of a Portsmouth defender after being played through on goal by Alex Rodman.
Town’s wingers have been causing problems all season and they almost combined when Shaun Whalley whipped in a cross with his left foot and Rodman rose at the back post, but he wasn’t quite tall enough to get a connection and it went behind for a goal kick.
It took until the 18th minute for either side to really have a shot in anger and it was Town who had it when Nolan picked the ball up 30 yards from goal and he ran with the ball before shooting from just outside the box, but it went a couple of yards high and wide of the Pompey goal.
A minute later the visitors had their own effort at goal and this time it tested Dean Henderson, but he got down well to his left to push the ball away after Matt Kennedy’s 25 yard effort.
When Town moved the ball quickly Portsmouth were struggling to keep tabs on the Shrewsbury forwards and a slick move allowed Rodman some space on the left hand side of the box. He cut inside and unleashed a shot but towering defender Christian Burgess was able to block the shot, which appeared to be heading into the top corner.
Town were dominating possession with Carlton Morris proving a real handful upfront as he brought others into play, but unfortunately a lot of the action was around 30 to 40 yards away from the Portsmouth goal and real efforts on goal were few and far between.
In fact it was Portsmouth, who had created very little in the opening 45, that probably came closest to taking a lead into the break when they produced a brief foray forward but Matt Kennedy’s curling shot went just wide of the post.
Carlton Morris had been Town’s player of the first-half and seven minutes into the second he won Town a penalty. Abu Ogogo lifted the ball forward and Carlton, who started about 10 yards behind the defenders, powered through two Pompey players to latch onto the pass before touching it past the onrushing Luke McGee who brought Morris down in the box. Shaun Whalley stood up to take it but his effort was weak and straight the middle and McGee comfortably made the save.
The missed opportunity almost came to haunt Town a couple of minutes later as Portsmouth won a free-kick 25 yards out right in front of the goal. Pompey Captain Brett Pitman took it and he beat the ball, but he couldn’t beat Dean Henderson who got down well to his left to push it away.
However, Whalley made up for his earlier effort by putting Town in front in the 59th minute. Jon Nolan had done well to move past a couple of Portsmouth defenders before shooting left-footed towards goal. Luke McGee appeared to have comfortably got down to his left to save the shot, but the ball inexplicably fell from his grip and Shaun Whalley was on hand to turn the ball home from six yards.
Town taking the lead forced Kenny Jackett into showing his hand and Portsmouth made a double change with Kyle Bennett and Oliver Hawkins coming on for Jamal Lowe and Matt Kennedy.
But, it was the home side that continued to dominate and a little bit more composure could have given Town a brilliant chance to make it two-nil as Carlton Morris looked to feed Whalley, but his pass was slightly over hit and the ball trickled through to McGee with Whalley bearing down on goal.
With just over 15 minutes remaining Town made their first change of the afternoon and it was the impressive Carlton Morris, who had ran himself into the ground, that made way for Stefan Payne. Whilst, Portsmouth made their final substitution three minutes later as Brett Pitman was replaced by Conor Chaplin.
Portsmouth were now pushing men forward, but that was leaving holes at the back and with 10 minutes remaining Town doubled their lead. The combination of Stefan Payne and Abu Ogogo forced Pompey defender Matt Clarke into a mistake and Payne went through one-on-one with McGee. McGee made himself big but Payne’s shot had enough power to go through the Portsmouth number one and nestle in the back of the net.
Town were now in consolidation mode and Ben Godfrey replaced Alex Rodman for the final five minutes to add to the solidity in defence. But, in all honesty Portsmouth were creating very little and Town saw the game out with relative ease.