On This Day
|Hayley McFarland199128||Ronan Curtis199623
Pompey failed to extend the gap on promotion rivals Charlton after going down to a 2-1 defeat at The Valley.
The hosts went ahead through Joe Aribo just before the break, only for Ronan Curtis to hit back with an immediate equaliser.
But Lyle Taylor restored the Addicks’ advantage early in the second half and despite a late rally from the visitors, they held on for the victory.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that fired five goals past Bradford on home soil the previous week.
Nathan Thompson, Matt Clarke, Oli Hawkins and Ronan Curtis all went off injured last Saturday, but were passed fit to play.
Pompey started brightly and a dangerous delivery from Jamal Lowe was just out of reach for Curtis at the back post.
A cross-field pass from Clarke was soon nodded on first by Thompson and then Hawkins, but Lowe’s effort was blocked before it could trouble Dillon Phillips.
Charlton slowly started to take control of the contest, however, and looked lively without being able to test Craig MacGillivray.
When Thompson was dispossessed in the middle of the park, it took a fine challenge from Clarke to deny Jonny Williams.
And the hosts should have broken the deadlock on 20 minutes following a neat passing move wide on the left.
Williams played a quick one-two with Aribo and sent the ball into the centre to give Josh Cullen a simple close-range finish, only for his shot to hit the back of team-mate Igor Vetokele and fly clear.
Tom Naylor then diverted a Patrick Bauer effort past the post, while efforts from Taylor and Cullen were off target.
Clarke – who is normally so positive in possession – lost the ball to Krystian Bielik, although Taylor’s shot was comfortably kept out by MacGillivray.
But Charlton did make their pressure count late in the first half, as Aribo collected Cullen’s pass, turned sharply and drilled the ball home.
There was, however, still time for the Blues to level before the break, with CURTIS racing forward to convert Lee Brown’s corner with a thumping header.
Charlton Athletic 1
The Addicks made a strong start to the second half, although it was the visitors who had the ball in the net on 49 minutes.
Lowe’s shot was diverted into the net by Curtis from a few yards out, although a flag was immediately raised for offside.
Charlton did score soon after, however, to restore their lead after Clarke had attempted to clear Aribo’s cross.
But the ball ricocheted to the feet of substitute Ben Reeves and he squared it for Taylor to convert from close range.
Pompey made a positive reaction to falling behind again, although were unable to capitalise on dangerous deliveries from Lowe and Gareth Evans.
Jackett then made a double switch just past the hour mark, with Hawkins and Ben Close withdrawn for James Vaughan and Dion Donohue.
Pompey were trying to get the ball forward and persistence from Curtis and Vaughan forced Naby Sarr to make an error, but the defender recovered to scramble clear.
The Addicks then came close to extending their advantage, with MacGillivray getting down low to his right to keep out Bauer’s effort.
Donohue released Evans down the left with a fine pass on 73 minutes and the skipper tried to score from a tight angle, but instead fired wildly off target.
Brett Pitman replaced Evans soon after, as the club captain took up residence just behind fellow Vaughan in the forward line.
And he almost provided a leveller late on, with a fine ball into the box that was sent across the face of goal by Lowe and agonisingly out of reach for Curtis to convert.
A dipping long-range effort from Pitman was not too far over the bar, as the Blues started to look a real threat.
It was a vibrant end to the contest from the visitors, with Lowe and Pitman seeing shots blocked inside the box in quick succession.
But despite pushing Charlton back deep for the final stages, the hosts held on to close the gap on Pompey to two points.
Charlton (4-1-2-1-2): Phillips; Dijksteel, Bauer (c), Sarr, Purrington; Bielik (Reeves 46); Cullen, Aribo; Williams (Fosu 59); Vetokele (Pratley 84), Taylor
Goals: Aribo 41, Taylor 51
Subs not used: Maxwell, Solly, Lapslie, Parker
Pompey (4-1-4-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c) (Pitman 76), Close (Donohue 61), Curtis; Hawkins (Vaughan 61)
Goals: Curtis 45
Booked: Hawkins, Burgess, Naylor
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Haunstrup, Solomon-Otabor
Referee: Roger East
Attendance: 14,451 (3,097 Pompey fans)
Pompey romped to a 3-0 victory at Bury to book their place at Wembley in the final of the Checkatrade Trophy.
The first half was a relatively even affair, but the Blues exploded into life after the interval to put their League Two hosts to the sword.
A brilliant Gareth Evans free-kick got the ball rolling, while Oli Hawkins and Ronan Curtis then struck to effectively wrap up the contest.
Pompey will now have to wait for a week before they learn whether their opponents at the national stadium next month will be Bristol Rovers or Sunderland.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that drew with Barnsley in the league at the weekend.
Two of them were enforced, as Hawkins and skipper Evans replaced the injured Omar Bogle and cup-tied Bryn Morris respectively.
Nathan Thompson had also fully recovered from a knee problem, so Anton Walkes made way at right-back.
Christian Burgess was presented with the Player of the Round award for his quarter-final display before kick-off and made his 150th appearance for the club.
It was an open start to proceedings, with crosses from Byron Moore and Lee Brown causing problems at either end.
The hosts had a great chance to break the deadlock after just five minutes, with Craig MacGillivray getting down to his left to keep out Nicky Maynard’s curler.
But the danger was not over and Brown was forced to hack the ball to safety before a white-shirted player could capitalise.
Pompey then created an opportunity of their own just seconds later, as Curtis spun on the edge of the box and forced Joe Murphy to make a save at his near post.
Hawkins also had an effort blocked by Will Aimson from Brown’s cut-back, with both sides continuing to play with an attacking mindset.
It was Bury’s turn to try their luck on 18 minutes, but former Fratton loanee Caolan Lavery bent his shot narrowly past the post.
The hosts started to see more of the ball as the first half progressed, although were unable to cause MacGillivray any more problems.
Half-chances were the best the Blues could muster at the other end and Curtis drilled wide after Thompson’s teasing delivery was headed away.
And when Viv Solomon-Otabor’s path to goal was blocked, Brown crossed for Hawkins to head narrowly over.
A deep free-kick from Evans caused alarm for the Shakers on 36 minutes, but Curtis could not make a clean connection in the box.
Then, just before the break, Hawkins slipped a pass through to Curtis down the right and his centre had to be headed away by Aimson before it could reach Solomon-Otabor.
Solomon-Otabor did not emerge for the start of the second half, with Jamal Lowe replacing him and Curtis switching to the left.
Pompey looked bright once the action restarted, although a deep free-kick from Evans was dealt with by the Bury back-line.
And when the ball bounced up for Ben Close just inside the area, Aimson bravely dived in to block the midfielder’s volley.
The Blues were dominating possession and long-range attempts by Lowe and Burgess forced Murphy to make saves, albeit comfortable ones.
There was a scare at the other end when Burgess’ ball across goal was almost intercepted by Lavery, but MacGillivray got the ball clear.
Instead it was the visitors who made their pressure count with two goals in quick succession just past the hour mark.
Close was brought down by Callum McFadezen just outside the box and four players gathered around the ball.
But it was EVANS who eventually took the free-kick and bent home a fine effort that left Murphy rooted to the spot.
And the advantage was soon doubled, as Evans’ cross was nodded back across goal by Thompson for HAWKINS to slam into the roof of the net.
Bury soon had chances to reduce their deficit, as Maynard arrowed a shot agonisingly past the post, while Jay O’Shea hit a fierce effort straight at MacGillivray.
But Pompey were still looking to attack themselves and a long-range drive from Evans was parried away by Murphy, with a brilliant Aimson challenge stopping Curtis converting the loose ball.
CURTIS did have his goal on 77 minutes, however, with a fine finish that was lashed right into the side of the net.
And MacGillivray then ensured the visitors’ kept their three-goal lead, diving to his left to keep out a Lavery free-kick that appeared destined for the top corner.
But there was a blow for the Blues late on when Burgess limped off the pitch, with Walkes replacing him for the final few minutes.
Bury (3-5-2): Murphy; Aimson, Thompson, McFadzean (Omotayo 77); Adams (c) (Cooney 70), O’Shea, Rossiter, Mayor, Moore; Maynard (Telford 70), Lavery
Subs not used: Moloney, O’Connell, Stokes, Danns
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Thompson, Burgess (Walkes 88), Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close; Curtis, Evans (c), Solomon-Otabor (Lowe 46); Hawkins
Goals: Evans 61, Hawkins 64, Curtis 77
Subs not used: Bass, Haunstrup, Donohue, Vaughan, Pitman
Referee: Ross Joyce
Attendance: 3,900 (452 Pompey fans)
Pompey twice fought from behind, but a late goal saw them leave League One leaders Luton empty-handed.
They were comfortably second best before the break and James Collins ensured the hosts went in ahead at the interval.
It was a different story in the second half, however, and the Blues dominated for long periods, with Ronan Curtis levelling.
Collins netted from the penalty spot to restore the Hatters’ lead, only for substitute Omar Bogle to equalise on his debut.
Both sides looked capable of grabbing a late winner, but it was George Moncur who struck in the closing stages to strengthen Luton’s advantage at the summit.
Kenny Jackett made two changes from the side that drew with Queens Park Rangers in the FA Cup at the weekend.
Bryn Morris was handed a debut in the centre of midfield, while Jamal Lowe made an instant return after completing a one-match ban.
Dion Donohue and Louis Dennis dropped to the bench, where they were joined by recent loan signing Bogle.
There was also a change of formation, with Anton Walkes moving into the centre of a three-man defence, as Lee Brown and Jamal Lowe were used as wing-backs.
The snow fell persistently throughout the contest, although it was not heavy enough to leave more than a dusting on the surface.
It was the hosts who started on the front foot and it continued that way for most of the opening 45 minutes.
There were plenty of dangerous balls delivered into the Pompey box, although the majority were dealt with.
One cross from Kazenga LuaLua – younger brother of former Fratton favourite Lomana – caused difficulties, but Andrew Shinnie’s shot was blocked by Jack Whatmough.
Craig MacGillivray kept out a long-range effort from James Justin, who had earlier seen his corner headed away by Brett Pitman.
Luke Berry then sent a dangerous low ball across the face of goal, but a sliding Collins could not shake off Matt Clarke to convert.
Luton were well on top of and after a spell of intense pressure, LuaLua’s angled drive was kept out by MacGillivray.
Berry was next to try his luck, with a shot from outside the box that fizzed narrowly past the post midway through the half.
The hosts went close again on 29 minutes, as Jack Stacey swung in a dangerous cross that Berry glanced just wide.
Pompey were not creating much at the other end, although a flick from Pitman found Curtis, who was crowded out before he could get a shot away.
The action was soon back down the other end of the pitch, however, and Alan McCormack’s attempt was just off target, while a heavy touch from LuaLua allowed MacGillivray to save.
But Luton finally made their pressure count on 39 minutes, as Collins collected LuaLua’s pass and neatly slotted home.
Pompey’s first shot came just before the break, although Gareth Evans slipped as he connected with the ball, which sailed over the bar.
Luton Town 1
Jackett made a double change at the start of the second half, with Bogle and Donohue replacing Pitman and Evans.
And the latter made an immediate impression with the visitors’ first shot on target, although James Shea was not overly troubled.
Bogle was also proving to be a real handful, using his strength to steal possession on a couple of occasions.
Pompey looked a different team than the one that had struggled to keep hold of the ball before the break.
And they found themselves back on level terms on 52 minutes, with Clarke getting into the box and Lowe teeing-up CURTIS to drill into the net.
They might have had another moments later when Lowe found Morris, whose fierce effort was tipped over by Shea.
The Blues were applying plenty of pressure and the ball had to be hacked clear when Shea parried clear an angled drive from Curtis.
Luton had a chance to retake the lead on 71 minutes, however, as a cleanly-struck effort from Justin was pushed over by MacGillivray.
But they were back ahead soon after, when referee Simon Hooper decided that Whatmough had brought down LuaLua in the box.
He pointed straight to the spot and Collins sent up to confidently fire the ball right into the bottom corner.
That only served to reinvigorate the visitors, though, and they were deservedly level when Lowe slipped a pass across for BOGLE to bundle home.
He came close to adding another soon after, but Shea managed to get down to his left to push the ball behind.
But there was late heartache as the game swung back in Luton’s favour following a disputed foul on Moncur by Walkes just outside the box.
It was Moncur who took the free-kick and he expertly bent a shot around the wall and into the net to seal victory for the hosts.
Luton (4-1-2-1-2): Shea; Stacey, Pearson, Bradley (c), Justin; McCormack; Mpanzu, Shinnie (Sheehan 88); Berry (Potts 73); Collins, LuaLua (Moncur 80)
Goals: Collins 39, 77 (pen), Moncur 86
Subs not used: Isted, Jones, Read, Tomlinson
Pompey (3-5-2): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke; Lowe, Evans (Donohue 46), Naylor, Morris, Brown; Pitman (c) (Bogle 46), Curtis
Goals: Curtis 52, Bogle 79
Booked: Donohue, Naylor
Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Haunstrup, May, Dennis
Referee: Simon Hooper
Attendance: 10,078 (1,033 Pompey fans)
Pompey began 2019 with victory at Fratton Park, but were made to work hard for the points by a struggling AFC Wimbledon side.
It looked like a comfortable afternoon might be on the cards for the league leaders when Jamal Lowe gave them an early lead.
But the hosts missed some decent chances to extend their lead and a stunning strike from Kwesi Appiah brought the Dons level.
That seemed to spark the Blues back into life, though, and Ronan Curtis soon headed them back in front to secure the win.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that won convincingly at Fleetwood at the weekend.
Oli Hawkins recovered from an ankle problem to replace Brett Pitman up front, while Brandon Haunstrup came in for the injured Lee Brown at left-back.
The other switch saw Ben Close make way for Gareth Evans, who was rested for the final game of 2018 at Highbury.
There was a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of former Pompey and Hampshire cricket star Mike Barnard, who sadly passed away before Christmas.
It was a quiet start to the contest, both on and off the pitch – with some New Year revelries perhaps explaining the muted atmosphere in the opening stages.
But the noise levels soon grew, as the hosts took the lead with the first proper chance of the game on eight minutes.
Curtis collected a cross-field pass from Anton Walkes and fired in a low shot that was saved by Tom King.
But the keeper could not keep hold of the ball and LOWE was quick to capitalise, dinking a neat finish into the net.
Pompey were dominating possession, but there was not an abundance on clear-cut opportunities to excite a sell-out crowd.
Ben Thompson wasted a decent opening, swiping at thing air after Walkes’ ball into the box had been laid off by Evans.
A couple of other dangerous moments from the hosts were ended by an offside flag, as the Dons struggled to find a foothold in the game.
Lowe was proving a particular nuisance and after showing some nifty footwork inside the box, saw his low shot saved by King.
His clever chipped pass into the box then had to be nodded away by Terell Thomas before Thompson could capitalise.
The visitors finally threatened just before the break when former Pompey winger Andy Barcham burst clear, but a superb Jack Whatmough challenge inside the box halted his progress.
AFC Wimbledon 0
It was still a fairly sedate affair once the action restarted and a wayward header from Mitch Pinnock was not going to trouble Craig MacGillivray.
Kwesi Appiah was then perhaps fortunate to avoid a booking following a late challenge on Matt Clarke, with the Blues defender quickly back up on his feet.
But the hosts should have doubled their lead on 54 minutes, as a fine Lowe pass sent Curtis through on goal, only for the Republic of Ireland international to drag his shot wide.
Curtis was soon back to his best, however, stealing possession and cutting the ball back for Evans, whose side-footed effort was kept out by King.
Wimbledon tried to make Pompey pay for those missed chances and suddenly enjoyed a spell of pressure.
But one strike from Anthony Hartigan flew high over the crossbar, while another was straight at MacGillivray.
It was the visitors on top, though, and Jackett made a double change on 69 minutes to try to negate their threat.
Evans and Hawkins were the men to make way, with Close and Pitman adding fresh legs to the midfield and forward line respectively.
But it was Lowe who had a chance to doubled the lead, only to head a Curtis cross wide from just a few yards out.
And the hosts were made to pay for their profligacy when Appiah unleashed a superb long-range strike that left MacGillivray helpless.
Thompson had a shot blocked as Pompey went back on the attack, while an effort from Curtis was comfortably dealt with by King.
But CURTIS did restore their lead moments later, rising above his man in the box to nod home a great cross from Thompson.
The Dons threw men forward in an attempt to equalise for a second time, but Pompey saw out the closing stages to start the year on a high.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Haunstrup; B.Thompson (Burgess 90+4), Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c) (Close 69), Curtis; Hawkins (Pitman 69)
Goals: Lowe 8, Curtis 80
Subs not used: Bass, Donohue, Wheeler, Green
AFC Wimbledon (4-1-4-1): King; Watson, Kalambayi, Thomas, Purrington (Garratt 83); Nightingale (c); Pinnock, Wordsworth, Hartigan (Egan 73), Barcham (Jervis 87); Appiah
Goals: Appiah 75
Subs not used: McDonnell, Sibbick, Trotter, Wood
Referee: Antony Coggins
Attendance: 18,732 (634 away fans)
Pompey ensured it would be a very Merry Christmas by seeing off Sunderland in a pulsating encounter on the south coast.
There was plenty of energy, but little goalmouth action before the break – but that certainly changed after it.
Gareth Evans opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Glenn Loovens had been sent off for a foul on Oli Hawkins.
Ronan Curtis soon doubled the advantage, although Luke O’Nien reduced the deficit in front of the biggest crowd Fratton Park had seen for seven years.
Nerves were quickly calmed, however, as Ben Thompson added another for the Blues, who continued to attack right up until the final whistle.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that had battled for a point up at Barnsley the previous week.
However, David Wheeler had sufficiently recovered from a hamstring injury to take his place among the substitutes.
The atmosphere inside a packed Fratton Park was crackling before a ball had been kicked and continued to impress throughout the contest.
But while the action on the pitch was often played at a hectic pace, there were not many clear-cut chances to excite the sell-out crowd during the first half.
Ronan Curtis was a threat for the hosts and Jon McLaughlin came tearing from his line to deny the Republic of Ireland international a shot.
A shot for O’Nien then hit Nathan Thompson right in the face, with the right-back looking dazed, but able to continue.
Pompey put some dangerous balls into the mixer, but the Sunderland defence looked solid and headed everything clear.
Hawkins thought he should have been awarded a penalty midway through the half after having his shirt tugged by O’Nien, although referee Peter Bankes disagreed.
There were plenty of firm challenges going in, with Lee Brown and Lee Cattermole both receiving a talking to following one clash.
Hawkins was booked by Bankes for a foul on Loovens, with Curtis and O’Nien also getting a ticking off.
Duncan Watmore did well down the Pompey right on 36 minutes, only to see his cross deflected into Craig MacGillivray’s arms.
And the Black Cats had the best chance of the half just before the break, with Watmore squaring for Lynden Gooch, whose shot was saved by the legs of MacGillivray.
It had been entertaining fare before the break, but the action moved up a few gears immediately after the restart.
A brilliant ball from Curtis was latched on to by Hawkins, who charged into the box and was unceremoniously hauled down by Loovens.
Bankes immediately pointed to the spot and life soon got worse for the Sunderland defender, who was shown a red card.
It was EVANS who stepped up to take the penalty, with the skipper slamming the ball right into the top corner.
And it soon got even better for the league leaders after CURTIS collected a header from the hard-working Hawkins.
It looked like crossing for the well-placed Jamal Lowe was the better option, but instead he drove the ball into the net from a tight angle.
But the action was not going to let-up and Sunderland reduced their deficit when O’Nien turned home a cross from Max Power.
It was soon the Blues back on the attack and an effort from Evans was deflected narrowly past the post.
The respite was a brief one for the visitors, however, as they fell further behind from the resulting corner.
McLaughlin did well to keep out a firm Hawkins header, but Sunderland could not get the ball clear and Ben THOMPSON’s drive was deflected into the roof of the net.
The opportunities kept coming at both ends, with another attempt from the on-loan Millwall midfielder going wide, while Gooch blazed over for the Black Cats.
MacGillivray then took a heavy touch from Brown’s back-pass, but recovered well to deny Gooch.
Hawkins almost capped his impressive display with a goal on 73 minutes, sending his header from a Curtis cross inches past the post.
He received a standing ovation when being replaced by Brett Pitman soon after, with Evans having already been withdrawn for Ben Close.
And the two substitutes combined to put the ball in the net late on, only for Pitman to be flagged offside.
Pompey looked likely to add to the scoring in the closing stages and Close had a shot saved by McLaughlin.
But the crowd did not seem to mind settling for just the 3-1 win, as they exited the ground full of festive glee.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, B.Thompson; Lowe, Evans (c) (Close 72), Curtis (Green 87); Hawkins (Pitman 81)
Goals: Evans 48 (pen), Curtis 53, B.Thompson 63
Booked: Hawkins, Curtis, N.Thompson
Subs not used: Bass, Walkes, Burgess, Wheeler
Sunderland (4-1-2-1-2): McLaughlin; O’Nien, Loovens, Baldwin, James; Cattermole; Honeyman (c) (Maguire 58), Power; McGeady (Sinclair 78); Gooch, Watmore (Ozturk 49)
Goals: O’Nien 57
Sent off: Loovens
Subs not used: Ruiter, Oviedo, McGeouch, Maja
Referee: Peter Bankes
Attendance: 19,402 (2,637 away fans)
Pompey’s long wait for a Fratton league game was certainly worth it, as they maintained their table-topping form with victory over Walsall.
They dominated the opening 45 minutes, although only had an Oli Hawkins header to show for it at the break.
Their visitors did improve following the interval, but Ronan Curtis struck to ensure the Blues enjoyed their homecoming.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same side that secured a 2-1 victory away to Scunthorpe at the weekend.
And they showed no sign of weariness in the opening stages, looking to attack their mid-table opponents right from kick-off.
Saddlers skipper George Dobson had to throw himself in front of a shot from Gareth Evans, while Jamal Lowe’s threaded pass for Curtis just overran.
Evans missed a great chance to break the deadlock after being found unmarked by Curtis on eight minutes, sending his header high over the crossbar.
And Pompey’s captain should have been awarded a penalty after clearly being barged to the ground by Nicky Devlin on 17 minutes, only for referee Alan Young to inexplicably wave play on.
Still the hosts kept pouring forward and a fine block from Luke Leahy finally put an end to Lowe’s surging run.
Ben Thompson then fired narrowly wide, while Evans could not quite get on the end of a teasing Curtis cross.
But the goal finally arrived on 25 minutes when Curtis’ deflected delivery fell kindly for HAWKINS to head home at the far post.
And the lead was almost doubled moments later, with a screamer from Ben Thompson flying just past the outright.
Walsall did grow into the game more as the half progressed and Kane Wilson’s drive was deflected narrowly off target.
It was Pompey who came close to adding to the scoring just before the break, with Curtis hitting a fierce effort narrowly past the post.
There was still time for the visitors to put hearts in mouths in stoppage-time, however, as Nathan Thompson made a key sliding challenge to dispossess Josh Ginnelly in the box.
It was Walsall who were first to threaten after the break and Ginnelly wasted a decent opening by firing over after being found in the area by Russell Martin.
But despite looking a tad nervous at the start of the second half, Pompey were able to double their advantage on 49 minutes.
Lowe launched a quick counter-attack and found CURTIS, with the Republic of Ireland international swivelling to fire home after his first attempt had been blocked.
Hawkins then had two chances in quick succession to really put the hosts in full control, with the first seeing him nod an Evans corner over from close range.
The same duo combined again moments later and this time the striker’s header drifted just past the post.
There was a nervy moment at the opposite end of the pitch just past the hour mark, as Wilson went down in the box under pressure from Lee Brown.
Young blew his whistle, but decided the Walsall winger had taken to the floor too easily and booked him for diving.
The visitors brought on former Blues loanee Connor Ronan for Ginnelly in an attempt to find a route back into the game.
And Pompey made a change of their own soon after, with Curtis getting an ovation as he made way for David Wheeler.
They were struggling to see as much of the ball as the seconds ticked down, but their opponents could only manage half-chances.
One of those saw Ronan drill a low shot narrowly wide, but Craig MacGillivray was still not really being tested.
His opposite number, by contrast, just about managed to tip over a sweetly-struck 25-yard effort from Nathan Thompson.
And the Blues saw out the closing stages with relative ease to maintain their four-point lead at the top of the table.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; B.Thompson, Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c) (Close 85), Curtis (Wheeler 74); Hawkins
Goals: Hawkins 25, Curtis 49
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Haunstrup, Green, Pitman
Walsall (4-4-2): Roberts; Devlin, Martin, Guthrie, Leahy; Wilson (Morris 88), Dobson (c), Kinsella, Ginnelly (Ronan 65); Gordon (Cook 78), Ferrier
Booked: Devlin, Wilson, Dobson
Subs not used: Dunn, Fitzwater, Johnson, Osbourne
Referee: Alan Young
Attendance: 16,794 (184 away fans)
Not that the near-2,000 travelling fans will care much about the quality of the contest, as they saw their side extend their unbeaten start to the season.
In a game of extremely few genuine opportunities, Curtis’ curling finish stood out and ensured the Blues remained top of the League One table.
Kenny Jackett unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Rochdale to reach the League One summit on Saturday.
There were a few familiar faces in the opposition line-up, with Michael Doyle, Tom Davies and Dom Hyam all starting, and Liam O’Brien on the bench.
The first half was a largely forgettable affair, with long periods of lifeless play punctuated by a few key moments.
Pompey were first to threaten and Ben Close should at least have sent the ball on target when he met Nathan Thompson’s cross with a side-foot shot.
A dangerous corner from Gareth Evans then had to be headed clear by Jonson Clarke-Harris, as the visitors looked to make a fast start.
But there were not many other clear-cut opportunities to excite the crowd inside the cavernous Ricoh Arena.
A booking apiece for Dujon Sterling and Tom Naylor rose them from their slumber, although the latter was adamant he had won the ball cleanly from Luke Thomas.
But Pompey received a let-off on the half-hour mark when Matt Clarke inexplicably stopped in his tracks, allowing Clarke-Harris to surge towards goal.
Craig MacGillivray thankfully came to the rescue, tearing from his line to make a vital save and then leaping on the loose ball.
It looked like the sides would crawl uneventfully towards the interval, with a few Blues crosses that were headed clear about as exciting as it got.
But the large travelling army from the south coast had reason for their non-stop chanting in stoppage-time.
Evans stole possession from former team-mate Doyle and Close’s pass was nodded down by Brett Pitman.
It looked like CURTIS had taken too long to get his shot away, but he was merely making space to curl home a fine finish.
Coventry City 0
Pompey made an energetic start to the second half, although Evans was forced to take one for the team and pick up a booking when Thomas broke quickly following a corner.
But it was still proving to be a fairly scrappy encounter, with both sides struggling to keep hold of the ball.
There were plenty of bs being sent into the boxes, but it always seemed to be an opposition player getting on the end of them.
Coventry did enjoy more possession as the half progressed, although it was proving a comfortable evening for MacGillivray.
Tony Andreu attempted an ambitious volley on the edge of the Blues box and swiped at thin air to sum up the attacking quality on display.
Jackett made a chance on 70 minutes, bringing on Ben Thompson to replace Close and shore up his midfield.
And Pitman then made way for Oli Hawkins as time continued to tick away without anyone looking likely to add to the scoring.
The first of those newcomers did have a rare chance towards the end, with a fierce finish that Lee Burge just about dealt with.
Jamal Lowe also curled a shot narrowly past the post, as Pompey appeared to be comfortably heading for victory.
But they survived a scare at the death, with MacGillivray failing to hold Doyle’s free-kick and a scramble ensuing before Naylor hooked from the line.
Coventry (4-2-3-1): Burge; Willis, Davis, Hyam (Thompson 46), Sterling; Bayliss, Doyle (c); Thomas, Andreu (Hiwula 73), Shipley (Jones 56); Clarke-Harris
Subs not used: O’Brien, Kelly, Ogogo, Bakayoko
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; N.Thompson, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Close (B.Thompson 70), Naylor; Lowe, Evans, Curtis; Pitman (c) (Hawkins 83)
Goals: Curtis 45+2
Booked: Naylor, Evans, N.Thompson
Subs not used: McGee, Walkes, Haunstrup, Wheeler, Mason
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Attendance: 11,102 (1,961 Pompey fans)
Pompey’s excellent start to the season continued, as they eased to a comfortable victory over struggling Plymouth at Fratton Park.
They dominated for much of the contest and Ronan Curtis’ finish saw them deservedly lead at the break.
Jamal Lowe and Curtis then struck in quick succession after the interval to wrap up another enjoyable afternoon on the sunny south coast.
Kenny Jackett stuck with the same starting 11 for a fourth game in succession, with new loan signing Andre Green having to be content with a place on the bench.
There was a familiar face in the opposition line-up, as Stuart O’Keefe was selected in the Argyle midfield.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for former Pompey forward Ron Newman, who sadly passed away earlier in the week.
When the action got underway, it was the hosts who quickly gained the upper hand and started to dominate the contest.
Lowe dragged one shot wide, while the winger’s cross then had to be cleared behind before Gareth Evans could strike.
It was an impressive performance from Evans and his fierce 30-yard volley was just about tipped over by Matt Macey.
The keeper then had a nervy moment when he fumbled Lee Brown’s cross and narrowly prevented the ball from going behind for a corner.
Still the Blues dominated and when Oli Hawkins laid the ball off for Lowe, Macey had to get down to his right to save.
Plymouth thought they should have had a penalty on 21 minutes when Freddie Ladapo burst through on goal and collided with Craig MacGillivray.
The ball flew harmlessly wide and the visitors cried foul, but referee Tom Nield disagreed and waved play on.
Pompey rubbed salt into the wound by grabbing a deserved goal just seconds later, as CURTIS continued his fine personal form.
Evans sent a pass over the top for Lowe and although there was a heavy touch, he managed to squeeze the ball across for his fellow forward to slot home.
The advantage might have been doubled soon after when Evans laid the ball off for Hawkins, only for Macey to make a fine save.
It was Pompey who had been almost totally on top, but their opponents started to enjoy more of the ball as the interval approached.
Their best opportunity was a fierce drive from Jamie Ness – earlier booked for a crude challenge on Lowe – that MacGillivray pushed over the bar.
The hosts then received a blow when Hawkins went down off the ball and had to limp off, with Brett Pitman on to replace him.
And Pompey received a scare as MacGillivray came for a corner and missed, but Gary Sawyer failed to capitalise and fired over.
Plymouth Argyle 0
Jackett made his other two changes at the break, as the injured duo of Anton Walkes and Jack Whatmough made way for Nathan Thompson and Christian Burgess.
Plymouth also introduced Graham Carey and Ruben Lameiras to try to find a route back into the contest.
But the Blues started brighter and Lowe’s centre had to be cut out by Ryan Edwards before Pitman could strike.
Tom Naylor then had two cracks when a corner fell to him on the edge of the box and the second fizzed narrowly over.
But there would always be some nerves while the lead was so slender and Carey sent the ball against the outside of the post.
It was still the hosts on top, though, and Macey did well to keep out a deflected Lowe effort, while Burgess sent a header looping over.
But the Blues could breathe a sigh of relief when the lead was doubled on 63 minutes, as LOWE arrived at the back post to nod home Curtis’ cross.
And the points were safely in the bag just a few minutes later, thanks to a fine solo goal from the impressive CURTIS.
He bundled Sawyer off the ball with ease and despite looking to have run too far, managed to angle home a fierce shot.
The action calmed after that hectic period, with Pompey comfortably seeing out the closing stages in third gear.
And they were not really troubled by the Pilgrims before the whistle blew and the Fratton faithful could celebrate yet another victory
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes (N.Thompson 46), Whatmough (Burgess 46), Clarke, Brown; B.Thompson, Naylor; Lowe, Evans (c), Curtis; Hawkins (Pitman 41)
Goals: Curtis 22, 69, Lowe 63
Subs not used: McGee, Close, Wheeler, Green
Plymouth (4-1-4-1): Macey; Riley, Edwards, Sawyer (c), Smith-Brown; Songo’o (Lameiras 46); O’Keefe (Fox 70), Sarcevic, Ness, C.Grant (Carey 46); Ladapo
Subs not used: Letheren, Wootton, J.Grant, Taylor
Referee: Tom Nield
A late goal from Ronan Curtis ensured Pompey continued their impressive start to the season with victory over Bristol Rovers.
Gareth Evans netted for the second game in succession to give them an interval lead at the Memorial Stadium.
But Chris Lines then levelled from the penalty spot and was sent off in the space of three second half minutes.
It looked like the spoils would be shared, only for Curtis to scramble a shot home late on and secure another three-point haul for the Blues.
Kenny Jackett unsurprisingly stuck with the same side that beat Oxford in such impressive fashion at the weekend.
There was a familiar face in the opposition line-up, with Kyle Bennett starting against his former club.
The game began in a cagey fashion, as both sides were limited to long-range efforts that failed to find the target.
Tom Naylor, Ben Thompson and Evans had their radars off for the visitors, while it was Ed Upson and Bennett for Rovers.
But Liam Sercombe really should have done better when Bennett’s cross found him unmarked in the box and he screwed over the bar.
Matt Clarke then did well to hook the ball to safety and prevent Stefan Payne from getting a shot away.
Those opportunities came during a spell of pressure for the hosts, but instead it was the Blues that broke the deadlock on 32 minutes.
A long ball up the pitch was flicked on first by Oli Hawkins and then Curtis, with EVANS collecting it and lashing home a rocket of a shot.
Rovers came close to levelling before the break, with MacGillivray getting down to his right to push clear a low Sercombe drive.
Anton Walkes was also called into action to block efforts from Ollie Clarke and Upson, ensuring Pompey went in ahead at the break.
Bristol Rovers 0
It was Pompey who threatened first following the interval, but when Jamal Lowe’s cross was headed clear, Naylor was unable to keep his shot down.
There was then a break in play while Clarke received treatment for a cut above his eye and the Blues defender returned to the pitch with a bandaged head.
Rovers then had a great chance to equalise when MacGillivray palmed clear a curler from Tom Nichols, but Sercombe could only send the loose ball into the side netting.
Rovers were on top and after having penalty appeals turned down when Sercombe’s shot hit Thompson, an effort from Nichols had to be blocked by Clarke.
Pompey saw that nervy period out, however, and began to look more of a threat at the other end of the pitch.
Evans came close to his second goal of the evening after a surging run across the edge of the box, but drilled narrowly wide with his left foot.
But then came a couple of moments of controversy, as Rovers sub Lines scored from the spot before being sent off.
It was his corner that referee Graham Salisbury decided Curtis had deliberately handled, with the midfielder just about squeezing his penalty past MacGillivray’s outstretched arm and into the bottom corner.
Brett Pitman was immediately introduced from the bench and was caught by the studs of Lines, whose reckless challenge earned him a red card.
It was a hectic ending, with goals looking likely to go in at either end of the pitch, perhaps thanks to some tiring limbs.
But it was the Blues celebrating on 87 minutes, when CURTIS capitalised on Pitman’s flick from a Thompson pass and just about managed to force a shot over the line.
The visitors were then indebted to MacGillivray, who made a stunning save to deny Bennett, while Pitman cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Smith; Leadbitter, Lockyer (c), Craig, J.Clarke; Bennett, Upson (Lines 69), O.Clarke, Sercombe; Payne (Jakubiak 69), Nichols (Rodman 79)
Goals: Lines 76 (pen)
Sent off: Lines
Subs not used: Andre Jr, Broadbent, Mensah Jr, Reilly
Pompey (4-3-3): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; B.Thompson, Evans (c), Naylor; Lowe, Hawkins (Pitman 77), Curtis (Haunstrup 90)
Goals: Evans 32, Curtis 87
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Close, Wheeler, Chaplin
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Ronan Curtis bagged a brace as Pompey continued their winning start to the season with a 2-1 victory against Blackpool.
The summer signing netted in each half, as the visitors appeared to be cruising towards three points at a grey Bloomfield Road.
Mark Cullen’s late effort meant the ending was perhaps nervier than it might have been and the same player also had a goal disallowed, as the Blues held on for what was a deserved win.
Kenny Jackett made three changes from the side that beat Luton on home soil on the opening day.
With Brett Pitman on the bench, Gareth Evans skippered the side and lined up alongside Ben Close in a 4-1-4-1 system.
Oli Hawkins was handed the striking role, as Brandon Haunstrup and the injured Nathan Thompson made way.
The stands were sparsely populated in all but the away end, as the Seasiders support staged protests against their club’s owners outside the ground.
But those who had made their way through the turnstiles almost witnessed a goal in the opening seconds, with Joe Dodoo striking the post from a narrow angle.
The danger was not over for the visitors, however, as Nathan Delfouneso’s follow-up effort had to be blocked by Matt Clarke.
A promising spell of possession soon led to a chance at the other end and an Evans cross was headed narrowly wide by Hawkins.
But the deadlock was broken on nine minutes and it was a moment to remember for CURTIS as he opened his Blues account.
The Blackpool defence failed to deal with Hawkins’ header, allowing the summer signing to pick the ball up and force it home, with Mark Howard’s hand not forceful enough to divert it wide.
Pompey were in control and looking more likely to add to the scoring as the half progressed, although there were not an abundance of clear-cut opportunities.
Curtis and Hawkins both glanced wide from dangerous deliveries into the box, while a tightly-marked Jamal Lowe was unable to get a shot away following good work from Close.
The Blues started to look more dangerous as the interval approached, though, and Howard was forced into action to deny Curtis.
Evans then whipped in a free-kick from wide on the left that a stretching Hawkins was inches away from connecting with.
It had been a quiet start for Craig MacGillivray and he was not overly troubled by Chris Taylor’s attempt from a tight angle.
Curtis went much closer on 38 minutes, surging through the centre of the pitch and unleashing a strike from outside the box that crashed against the post.
There were a couple of half-chances for the hosts before the whistle, although nothing to overly trouble MacGillivray.
Blackpool had been poor before the break, but did look more assured following the restart, albeit without creating much.
The town’s air show was causing more of a nuisance, with hair-raising stunts overhead meaning it was often difficult to focus on what was happening on the pitch.
There was a booking for Evans for clattering into Taylor, while the midfielder then saw his free-kick nodded wide by Curtis.
The hosts did have a decent opening just before the hour mark, although Delfouneso could not convert Marc Bola’s low cross as he slid in.
Instead Pompey went straight back up the other end to double their advantage after a long ball had been headed on by Hawkins.
It was CURTIS who picked the ball up, advancing on goal and neatly slotting it through the legs of Howard.
There was more good news when Danny Rose replaced Close on 66 minutes, with the midfielder making his first competitive appearance since suffering a leg break at the end of December.
MacGillivray had a couple of comfortable saves to make as Blackpool tried to find a way back, while Joe Bunney drilled narrowly wide.
But the Blues did not look under too much threat and David Wheeler was introduced for his debut, with Lowe the player to make way.
Blackpool did have a goal on 81 minutes, though, and it came just seconds after Evans had volleyed narrowly over.
The ball was pumped up the pitch and went straight into the path of substitute Cullen, who lifted it home under pressure from Clarke.
Taylor and John O’Sullivan both had chances as the seconds ticked down, while Cullen did find the net again – only for his celebrations to be cut short by the linesman’s flag.
It was a heart-stopping moment for those travelling fans in the North Stand, but the final whistle came moments later to spark jubilant scenes.
Blackpool (4-3-3): Howard; Turton, Heneghan, O’Connor, Bola (Gnanduillett 72); Taylor, Spearing (c), Pritchard (O’Sullivan 60); Delfouneso, Dodoo (Cullen 60), Bunney
Goals: Cullen 81
Subs not used: Mafoumbi, Nottingham, Thompson, Sinclair-Smith
Pompey (4-1-4-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown; Naylor; Lowe (Wheeler 79), Evans (c), Close (Rose 66), Curtis; Hawkins
Goals: Curtis 9, 59
Booked: Evans, Naylor
Subs not used: McGee, Burgess, Haunstrup, Dennis, Pitman
Referee: Ross Joyce
Transfer : Derry City – Portsmouth
Pompey have reached an agreement with Derry City to sign Ronan Curtis.
The 22-year-old winger has penned a pre-contract two-year deal and is set to officially become a Blues player on June 9 when the international transfer window reopens.
Curtis – who has represented Republic of Ireland up to under-21 level – will join for an undisclosed fee.
Assistant manager Joe Gallen said: “He’s someone we’ve tracked for the past few months. He’s got a lot of pace and power, and is good in the air as well, so we’re really pleased to bring him here.”