City came out for the second half completely unchanged with Nicholson not seeing any reason to change. Well, he was completely justified in doing so, after only three minutes of the second half being played, Nombe popped up once again, this time down the right-hand side. Jinxing his way past multiple Tykes defenders, he found that man Stansfield only two yards out who was able to pass the ball into the back of an empty net.
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Zak Swanson and Jay Mingi were both handed their first league starts, while there were returns for Ryan Tunnicliffe, Ronan Curtis and Joe Pigott. Michael Morrison, Joe Morrell, Josh Koroma and Dane Scarlett all dropped to the bench, while Marlon Pack served his one-match ban. Former Blues keeper Luke McGee was between the sticks for the hosts, who have title-winning skipper Michael Doyle serving as assistant head coach.
The visitors quickly took control of the contest, with the excellent Mingi running the show in the middle of the pitch. And the deadlock was almost broken on nine minutes, when he combined with Curtis to find Colby Bishop in the box. The striker’s shot was diverted against the crossbar by McGee and Pigott could not head on target from the resulting corner. But the Blues did go ahead soon after, with Owen Dale delivering a free-kick from wide on the left and RAGGETT making sure he got there first to head home.
Forest Green Rovers vs Portsmouth on 22 Oct 22 - Match CentreSean Raggett was on target as Pompey returned to winning ways in their first ever meeting with Forest Green. The defender headed home during a first half that was largely comfortable for the Blues at The New Lawn. But their opponents put up more of a fight after the break and applied some pressure, without really troubling Josh Griffiths. Danny Cowley made five changes from the side that were beaten at Charlton on Monday evening.
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With only 12 minutes played in the game City were on top. Barnsley then found themselves in the City box for only the second time in the match, a lovely ball into the box not only caught all the City players unawares but also Barnsley’s James Norwood at the back post with the ball hitting his chest and bouncing wide. A few moments later and the ball once again fell to Norwood, this time he was much more aware of the ball being played to him, but about 30 yards out he decided to strike the ball, but the ball sailed wildly wide of the goal, with 25 minutes played City were still one to the good.
With 60 minutes played City were finding themselves heavily in the Barnsley defensive third, Nombe once again being a nuisance, this time to Barnsley keeper Collins, forcing the keeper to walk the ball out for a City corner. Kev made his first change of the game, goal scorer Stansfield made way for fellow deadline day signing Harry Smith, with another big game only three days away, a very understanding change to be made.
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With Barnsley starting to make the passes work, a ball down the left-hand side found Devante Cole but a very well-timed Josh Key challenge sent the ball behind for a corner. That resulting corner found the head of Barnsley captain Mads Andersen but his bullet header never troubled Blackman in the city net. After what was an insanely frantic start to the game a head injury allowed both teams a little break. With City very much settled into their own style of play, all the play coming courtesy of Archie Collins in the centre of midfield spraying the passes around with ease.
With Barnsley desperately needing a goal and with only 15 minutes left to be played, they were very much knocking on the door of the City defence but the colossus that is Blackman was making sure nothing was getting past him, much to the annoyance of the home supporters who were letting their players know about it. Another chance for Barnsley went amiss as they turned up the heat on their home turf - the ball found its way into the box once again, but City were able to put on the pressure and the ball was blazed over the bar. Seconds later and another chance for the home side, this time Blackman making it very clear to the defenders to stop allowing the home side chances on goal.
City weren’t sitting back and defending though, from the resulting goal kick, Smith found himself baring down on goal, and on the half volley he let loose, the ball went wide of the post, but it still had the keeper scrambling across his goal. With the clock running down Kev made his final two changes of the game with Nombe and Brown being replaced by Sonny Cox and Kegs Chauke.
Combining expertly with Nombe, Brown and Stansfield. With the break in play from the head injury coming to an end, City found themselves in the Tykes penalty area once again, this time Caprice found himself about 12 yards out from goal, but his shot agonisingly went wide of the goal. Straight down the other end of the pitch and Barnsley found themselves five on three going towards the City goal but Jack Aitchison and substitute Adam Phillips could not combine, and Alex Hartridge timed his tackle to perfection and sent the ball away for a corner. In the dying moments of the first half a serious heart in mouths moment occurred right in front of the travelling Grecians, Blackman had the ball at his feet, with him thinking he had more time than he actually did, one of the Barnsley attackers dispossessed him, but thankfully he was able to recover and make a last ditch save to keep City 1-0 going into the break.
Despite not being put under too much pressure, Pompey were struggling to force McGee into more action. A Dale free-kick was claimed underneath the bar by the keeper, while a couple of dangerous Curtis cross were intercepted. Then, after a deep Tunnicliffe cross had caused a scramble inside the area, Pigott rolled a shot past the post. Griffiths was having a quiet afternoon at the other end and was certainly not troubled by an Armani Little effort that flew high over the bar. It was Pompey who had the final say just before the interval, with Curtis curling a shot wide after more good work from the impressive Mingi. Half Time: Forest Green 0 Pompey 1 Rovers were quicker out of the blocks when the action restarted, but still could not find their shooting boots.
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