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Portsmouth’s resilience at Stevenage impresses boss Kenny Jackett

Sunderland v Portsmouth – Sky Bet League One Play-off – Semi Final – First Leg – Stadium of Light
(Image credit: Simon Cooper)

Portsmouth boss Kenny Jackett praised his side’s resilience after their 3-1 penalty shoot-out win at Stevenage in the Carabao Cup first round.

Pompey had to fight back from 2-0 and 3-1 down to earn a 3-3 draw in normal time and goalkeeper Craig MacGillivray was the hero in the shoot-out, saving three Stevenage efforts to seal Pompey’s progress.

Jackett said: “It was an exciting game to some degree, end to end and full of chances.

“Stevenage played well, they were a handful in the early part of the game. Ben Coker has good delivery with his left foot and they have four or five very big lads and it was tough for us.

“We got to grips with it better as the game went on,” added Jackett, who was less pleased with some of his side’s defending at the Lamex Stadium.

Pompey were two down inside 10 minutes as Elliott List and Charlie Carter netted for Boro, while Scott Cuthbert’s third on 29 minutes came after the visitors failed to clear a goalmouth scramble.

Jackett said: “The second and third goals were unenforced errors and ones we could have dealt with – we are disappointed with that.

“Similarly, though, we kept going and got some good goals coming back.”

Ronan Curtis was first to strike for Pompey, halving the deficit on 20 minutes, before Gareth Evans’ penalty and a fine finish from John Marquis levelled the scores either side of the break.

“In the second half we looked the better side, found some rhythm, found some momentum and got an excellent goal from John Marquis,” Jackett said.

“We couldn’t quite get that winner, but it’s nice to see us win a penalty shoot-out after [last season’s play-off semi-final defeat against] Oxford. Craig made some fantastic saves.”

Stevenage boss Alex Revell identified Evans’ spot-kick on the stroke of half-time as a turning point in a rollercoaster encounter.

“The goal before half-time took the wind out of us a little bit at the wrong time,” he said.

“If we’d have come in at 3-1 it would have been a different story.

“It was a game of two halves. We asked the players to show intensity and in the first half we did.

“The first goal was a quality goal in terms of the way we want to play.

“In the second half we didn’t get going. To lose on penalties is disappointing but there are some really big positives to take.

“We have scored three goals at home, which is a positive. We know we have things to work on with our game management, and we had some indifferent defending.

“But you have to give credit where it’s due and their third goal was a real piece of quality.”