Feb 262022
 

Portsmouth FC 2021/2022


H League 1
Portsmouth 3
Fleetwood Town 3


FORM GUIDE

DRAWN WON WON WON LOST LOST LOST DRAWN LOST LOST

Pompey produced a Jekyll and Hyde performance as they fought from three goals down to secure a point against Fleetwood at Fratton Park.

They were punished for a poor first half, with goals from Anthony Pilkington, Harrison Biggins and Paddy Lane giving the visitors a commanding lead.

But Ronan Curtis converted a penalty just before the interval and the Blues looked a different side following a talking to from Danny Cowley.

They peppered the opposition goal with crosses and shots, with Marcus Harness scrambling home before Aiden O’Brien came off the bench to grab a stoppage-time equaliser.

Cowley made four changes from the side that dramatically won on the road at Shrewsbury earlier in the week.

Joe Morrell made an immediate return after completing his three-match ban, while there were also starts for Tyler Walker, Reeco Hackett and Harness.

Louis Thompson, O’Brien, George Hirst and Mahlon Romeo were the men to make way, with the quartet dropping to the bench.

There was also a switch of system, with Hayden Carter moving to a right-back role in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The early signs were positive, with Walker hitting an early shot wide before Curtis’ knock-back flew just behind the striker.

But what followed was a pretty chastening experience for the home faithful, who allowed the visitors to score three times from their four shots on target in the first half.

Former Pompey striker Ellis Harrison provided the first, getting down the right and driving into the box before cutting the ball back for Pilkington to slam home.

A second goal soon followed for the Cod Army, with nobody picking up Biggins to meet Carl Johnston’s pass across the box and fire into the net.

The Blues tried to hit back and Denver Hume drilled a shot wide following a spell of patient passing play.

But the visitors were getting plenty of men behind the ball to protect their lead and it was proving difficult to find a way through.

And instead Pompey went further behind late in the half, as Lane cut inside from the right and hit a left-footed screamer that Gavin Bazunu was unable to keep out.

There was, however, time for a lifeline to arrive just before the break, when Morrell’s pass was handled by Callum Camps.

Referee Alan Young immediately pointed to the spot and CURTIS stepped up to smash the penalty straight down the middle.


Half Time

Portsmouth 1

Fleetwood Town 3


Curtis was certainly trying to drag Pompey back into the contest and his delivery led to the ball pinging around the Fleetwood box before eventually being cleared behind.

He then did well to get on the end of a deep Morrell pass into the box, with his header landing on the roof of the net.

But the Republic of Ireland international saw penalty appeals turned away when he went down in the box soon after and was instead harshly booked for simulation.

Hackett soon had a great chance to score for the hosts, but got his shot all wrong after being teed-up by Carter.

It looked like a second goal had arrived just before the hour mark, when Curtis sent a superb ball into the area from the left.

But Walker’s header struck Zak Jules on the back and was prevented from crossing the line by Alex Cairns, who then kept out the striker’s follow-up effort.

And the Fratton faithful screamed for a penalty when the ball bounced up and struck Danny Andrew on the arm, but Young deemed it to be accidental.

Walker then thought he had netted his first Pompey goal after turning home a low Curtis cross, only to have his celebrations cut short by an offside flag.

O’Brien was brought on for Hume and went close with his first touch, but Cairns was able to keep out his header from a Ryan Tunnicliffe centre.

Cowley made an attacking switch on 78 minutes, taking off Carter and bringing on an extra striker in Hirst.

And the Blues did have a second goal when Cairns made a mess of dealing with a Curtis corner and the ball struck HARNESS before crossing the line.

There was a worrying moment soon after when Sean Raggett disappeared over the advertising boards and into the area of the North Lower currently being redeveloped.

Thankfully he emerged unhurt, with one wag commenting that the concreate had probably come off worse.

Fleetwood’s constant time wasting throughout the second half meant eight minutes were added on by the officials.

And Hirst almost levelled in the first of them, beating his man inside the box before drilling a low shot inches past the post.

Raggett then spun sharply and hit a shot that was gathered by Cairns, as the visitors continued to hold onto their lead by their fingernails.

But Fratton Park erupted soon after when a Curtis pass was helped on by both Walker and Hirst, and O’BRIEN raced clear before coolly slotting past Cairns.

Pompey sensed they could score again, but there was not quite enough time remaining and the spoils were ultimately shared.

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bazunu; Carter (Hirst 78), Raggett, Robertson (c), Hume (O’Brien 69); Tunnicliffe, Morrell; Harness, Hackett, Curtis; Walker
Goals: Curtis 45 (pen), Harness 80, O’Brien 90+5
Booked: Curtis
Subs not used: Webber, Ogilvie, Romeo, Thompson, Mingi

Fleetwood (3-5-2): Cairns; Nsiala, Clarke, Jules; Johnston, Camps, Lane (Baggley 90), Biggins, Andrew (c); Pilkington (Butterworth 23), Harrison (Garner 86)
Goals: Pilkington 7, Biggins 15, Lane 41
Booked: Lane, Cairns, Harrison
Subs not used: O’Hara, Morris, Boyle, Hayes

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 15,224 (106 away fans)