Football Hour host Jake Smith delivers an assessment of Portsmouth's League One victory away at Carlisle United.
Following a 350-mile trip up from the South Coast, which saw the Blues swap Fratton Park for Brunton Park, John Mousinho had multiple selection dilemmas to navigate through with some key names missing due to injury and new arrivals also performing well to provide the head coach with some positive selection headaches.
Tom McIntyre (ankle), Terry Devlin (shoulder), and Joe Morrell (knee) were all unsurprisingly missing from the game up in Cumbria following the news earlier in the week that each of their respective seasons were finished due to long-term injuries. They joined Regan Poole and Alex Robertson as players labelled as unlikely to feature again for Pompey in 2023/24.
Prior to kick-off, Carlisle United had won as many league matches this campaign (4) as Portsmouth had lost (also 4).
In the end, Mousinho made 1 change from the side that were victorious by 4 goals to nil at home to Northampton Town a week prior - Tom McIntyre replaced in the starting XI by Sean Raggett. Ryley Towler returned to the bench with Raggett stepping up.
Aussie forward Kusini Yengi came straight back into the fold after a month away on international duty for The Socceroos at the Asian Cup and was named on the substitutes bench at Brunton Park - He replaced Christian Saydee, who was not included in the Blues' matchday 18.
The start of the game was delayed owing to an incident in the Warwick Road End at Brunton Park, though this was dealt with swiftly and action got underway at around 3:05pm.
Paddy Lane gave the Blues their first real chance of the match in the 8th minute, however home goalkeeper Harry Lewis was equal to his high ball across the face of goal.
Carlisle frustrated Pompey for large parts of the opening 20 minutes, winning clever free-kicks and being more responsive to the second ball, though John Mousinho's side didn't help themselves with a magnitude of misplaced passes too. Last weekend's fast start against Northampton could not be replicated.
Luke Armstrong had a great opportunity to convert an opener on the 24th minute after a dangerous delivery in from the right and Pompey's defence and sixes and sevens - The subsequent tap went the wrong side of Will Norris' goal.
Just before the half-hour mark, former Fleetwood Town forward Josh Vela collected the first yellow card of the game after flying in with a late lunch on Conor Shaughnessy in Pompey's half.
Moments later, Tom Lowery unleashed a cushioned volley which hit the post after a Marlon Pack corner was nodded clear to him on the edge of the Carlisle 18-yard box.
On the 36th minute, Sean Raggett attempted an audacious effort from distance with the travelling urging the centre-back to shoot, however he was unable to replicate the goal he scored against Gillingham in the EFL Trophy earlier in the season.
The first half petered out with the scoreline goalless and The Cumbrians heading into the break arguable the happiest of the 2 sides.
Half-time: Carlisle United 0-0 Portsmouth
Pompey were quick out of the blocks after the break as Joe Rafferty worked well on the right-hand side to win a corner just 17 seconds into the half - Paddy Lane's resulting delivery however failed to find a teammate in the box.
Less than a minute later, Connor Ogilvie's low delivery from the left fell kindly to Brentford loanee Myles Peart-Harris in a promising position inside of the Carlisle box, though his first touch let him down and the opportunity went begging.
After a pretty ineffective performance, Myles Peart-Harris was brought off for Abu Kamara on the 57th minute as John Mousinho made his first change of the game - And Kamara made an instant impact, teeing up captain Marlon Pack in a dangerous position, where a corner was won.
GOAL - On the 62nd minute, Abu Kamara's continued threat pays off for Pompey as the Norwich loanee is able to exquisitely tee up Paddy Lane inside of the Carlisle box - The Northern Irishman kept a cool head and opened the scoring by poking the ball underneath goalkeeper Harry Lewis - Carlisle United 0-1 PORTSMOUTH.
On the 75th minute, the majority of the home supporters at Brunton Park were on their feet to applaud Owen Moxon, who was brought into the game to replace Callum Lang to mark Pompey's second substitution of the afternoon.
With just 10 minutes remaining, a teasing Marlon Pack free-kick was met by the head of Conor Shaughnessy, who was inches away from doubling Pompey's lead - The post coming to Carlisle's rescue for a second time.
John Mousinho utilised his 3rd and final substitution window on the 85th minute by replacing goalscorer Paddy Lane with defender Jack Sparkes
The hosts huffed and puffed toward the latter stages of the regulatory 90 minutes and the 4 added on with Pompey very much having their backs to the wall at Brunton Park.
The Blues were able to see out the win despite late attacks from Carlisle.
Full-time: Carlisle United 0-1 Portsmouth
Goalscorer: Paddy Lane 62'
Attendance: 9,053 (including 1,848 away fans)
Jake's Man of the Match: Sean Raggett - Came back into the side with no problem at all and was integral in nodding everything that came his way clear.
Full-time scores from elsewhere in League One today: Barnsley 2-1 Leyton Orient, Blackpool 1-1 Oxford United, Bristol Rovers 1-2 Burton Albion, Cambridge United 0-1 Cheltenham Town, Derby County 1-1 Shrewsbury Town, Lincoln City 2-1 Fleetwood Town, Northampton Town 1-1 Bolton Wanderers, Port Vale 2-2 Stevenage, Reading 2-0 Charlton Athletic, Wigan Athletic 2-1 Exeter City, Wycombe Wanderers 5-2 Peterborough United
With Derby and Bolton both being held to stalemates, as well as Peterborough's capitulation at Wycombe, the Blues' lead at the top of the League One standings has been extended to 6 points with 14 matches remaining.
Tune in on Monday (February 12th) evening from 6pm to The Football Hour to hear Jake Smith and a panel of Portsmouth supporters digest all of today's action, as well as review the full post-match interview with the gaffer.
The Blues will be back in action on Tuesday (February 13th) night at home to Cambridge United and Pompey Live will be on hand to provide full coverage of that match here on 93.7 Express FM from 7pm, LIVE from Fratton Park for a 7:45pm kick-off under the floodlights.