Report: Portsmouth 3-1 Cambridge United

Cambridge United were unable to take points from the Sky Bet League One leaders as Portsmouth came from behind to register a 3-1 victory at Fratton Park…

The visiting U’s made an excellent account of themselves in the opening proceedings of an atmospheric evening by taking the lead through Danny Andrew’s header. Nonetheless, Pompey drew level moments before the break courtesy of Kusini Yengi’s penalty and turned up the gears on the hour mark as Myles Peart-Harris helped secure the comeback, before Abu Kamara made sure of the points with a well-taken finish.

With their unbeaten run terminated last time out – in what was just their second league loss of 2024 -  the onus was on United to make a return to winning ways as soon as possible and build on their improved away form. One of their biggest tests of resolve awaited in Pompey, comfortably lodged at the top of the table thanks to four wins from their previous five.

In response to the slender defeat to Cheltenham Town three days earlier, Neil Harris rolled the dice by naming three changes to his XI. James Gibbons was drafted into the defence for his debut, whilst George Thomas and James Brophy also earned starts.

Looking to silence a lively atmosphere, who were roaring every time the hosts entered the final third, United had their chances at a premium in the opening stages but did force a scare on the 9th minute when Jack Lankester nicked the ball in the middle of the park and scurried towards the penalty area – with time on his hands, he carried and with options either side he pulled the trigger which got an important deflection out for a corner.

Remaining spirited by recovering at every opportunity and getting their bodies on the line, the chances remained in the U’s favour. This time, a 16th minute attempt from Lyle Taylor was ambitious considering the tight right angle in the box, but it was enough to test former U Will Norris, who claimed.

With 29 minutes played, another foray resulted in a scramble in the area where, with his back to goal, Taylor volleyed invitingly towards Sullay Kaikai, who got a foot on it but not enough to deflect on target as it trickled wide.

All in all, United had acquitted themselves extremely well during the opening half an hour, limited Pompey to very little.

The deserved breakthrough was secured on 37 when, at the conclusion of sustained pressure, a Kaikai corner was headed powerfully by Andrew, who passed a sea of blue and was pawed by Norris, but ultimately it had creeped past the line, with the referee confirming to spark jubilant scenes in front of the away end.

In response, John Mousinho’s men probed from the get-go. Upping the tenacity, Yengi tried his luck with a 25-yarded attempt that drilled inches wide of Jack Stevens’ left post.

With a matter of minutes before the break, Pompey were awarded a penalty when the lively Yengi was brought down in the area following a jinking turn. The forward stepped up and lashed straight into the middle of the net to level the tie.

This signalled a scrappy, physical end to a heated first half. United had certainly been in the ascendency throughout, but the league leaders were starting to enjoy the possession, so the whistle came at a good time.

After using the 15 minutes to regroup, Harris’ men came out of the blocks in positive fashion. Although they hadn’t registered anything clear cut, they were forcing waves of pressure and camping the Blues back.

Out of nowhere, they received the sucker punch on the stroke of the hour mark via a rapid counter-attack. After Yengi touched down a lofted ball, he picked out Paddy Lane down the left, whose inch-perfect pass across the face of goal was converted by a lunging Peart-Harris from a matter of yards.

Vying for the leveller, a sequence of switches resulted in Kaikai silkily beating two men to dance into the area, before the winger rifled against his nearest side netting.

The encounter was all but killed off on the 70th minute when Kamara was picked out on the edge of the 18-yard box, with the Norwich City loanee picking his spot and arrowing a precise strike that tapped against the crossbar and planted home.

This signalled a double change for the U’s, where Elias Kachunga and Liam Bennett entered the field, shortly followed by a triple swap where midfielders Paul Digby and Adam May, as well as loanee Macauley Bonne, were introduced in hopes of salvaging something.

It proved not to be the case for United, who ran out of ideas to test Pompey’s resolve, who saw the game out professionally to consign the travellers to successive defeats in League One.

Another pilgrimage awaits this Saturday (17th February) as the U’s embark on the trip to Cumbria to take on Carlisle United – be sure to back the boys.


Portsmouth: Mannion, Rafferty, Raggett, Shaughnessy, Ogilvie, Pack, Lowery (Moxon, 35’), Lane (Sparkes, 87’), Kamara (Martin, 87’), Peart-Harris (Lang, 71’), Yengi (Bishop, 71’)

Subs Not Used: Macey, Towler

Goalscorers: Yengi (42’), Peart-Harris (59’), Kamara (70’)

Bookings: Norris


Cambridge United: Stevens, Gibbons (L. Bennett, 72’), R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew, Cousins (May, 75’), Thomas (Kachunga, 72’), Kaikai (Bonne, 76’), Lankester, Brophy (Digby, 76’), Taylor

Subs Not Used: Mannion, Ibsen Rossi

Goalscorers: Andrew (37’)

Bookings: R. Bennett, Lankester, Stevens, Gibbons, Morrison


Referee: Robert Madley

Attendance: 19,445 (305 away fans)