Keeper's heroics can't save Pompey
By Chris Gibbs at Cobham
Monday 29 Mar 2010 22:11:00
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A single goal was enough to condemn Pompey’s reserves to defeat at Chelsea’s huge Cobham training ground.

But for an excellent display by goalkeeper John Stewart, the margin of victory would have been much greater. But to their credit, an inexperienced Blues side did battle back well after taking an early battering.

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Chelsea - who included Daniel Sturridge in their starting XI - made much the stronger start in a game the paying public were not allowed into watch, and could have been three or four up within 15 minutes.

Stewart made a point-blank save on seven minutes before Matt Ritchie, Pompey’s best performer on the night, gave his defence some respite by finding time for a snap-shot which went just wide.

The deciding goal came on 15 minutes when a ball through the middle led to Gael Kakuta running on and sliding a shot beneath Stewart.

Stewart made a string of good saves, a shot from Jeffrey Bruma from 25 yards among the efforts he kept out.

Pompey’s first corner arrived two minutes before half-time and was met by skipper Joel Ward, but his header went wide.

It ought to have been 2-0 on 45 minutes as Jacob Mallis went through. Stewart blocked well and when it came back out, Mallis could not quite reach the rebound.

A Ritchie cross five minutes after the break was almost perfect for James Hurst but he connected with keeper instead of ball, and was booked for his troubles.

Stewart made two or three more solid saves before Ritchie almost set up Leonard Sowah, but the latter didn’t read Ritchie’s through-pass.

Ritchie hit the Chelsea bar with a free-kick 11 minutes from time but that was to be the closest Pompey would come to an equaliser.

Nadir Ciftci went down looking for a penalty two minutes from time, but he appeared the only one looking for it – and to no avail.

The reserves are next in action at home to Birmingham at West Leigh Park on Monday, April 12.

Pompey: Stewart, Talack (Tsovolos 68), Sowah, Goddard, Ward, Ryan, Hurst, Stockford, Ciftci, Ritchie, Nlundulu. Unused subs: Bennett, O’Brien.

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