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PORTSMOUTH MATCH REPORT

13 February 2016

Portsmouth 3-1 Bristol Rovers

Attendance: 17,808 (2,863)

Rovers were handed their second defeat in a row losing 3-1 to Portsmouth at Fratton Park.

Goals from Gareth Evans, Michael Smith and Marc McNulty wrapped up all three points for Pomey before Lee Brown scored a late consolation in injury time.

Darrell Clarke made two changes to the side that lost at Accrington Stanley last time out as Daniel Leadbitter and Jermaine Easter came into the starting 11 replacing James Clarke and Matty Taylor.

Portsmouth started the game like a house on fire with Michael Smith putting Tom Lockyer under early pressure to concede a corner. Christian Burgess jumped highest to head the ball goalward but was denied by a remarkable reaction save from Steve Mildenhall to keep the game goalless.

However the home side didn't stop their efforts there. Pompey kept attacking the Rovers back line as Enda Stevens was allowed far to much space on the right hand side before swinging a lovely ball into the penalty area where Gareth Evans got in front of his man at the near post and applied a cool finish past Mildenhall.

Rovers had an opportunity to hit back almost instantly as a lovely floated ball from Tom Parkes split the entire Portsmouth defence and found Rory Gaffney at the far post. The Irishman took a nice touch to bring the ball into the penalty area but his effort thundered past Ryan Fulton but came crashing back off the crossbar.

In what was a reasonably heated first half with many stoppages for free kicks it was Portsmouth who were on top.

Just before the end of the half the former Premier League side had chances to double their lead through Michael Smith and Gary Roberts but both players failed to hit the target in what were very promising positions.

Portsmouth landed a sucker punch on the stroke of half time as Rovers could only marginally clear the danger from a corner as Michael Smith managed to find space at the far post to head the ball past Steve Mildenhall in the Rovers goal. 

It was all Pompey inside the opening exchanges of the second half as Michael Smith looked for his second goal of the game and probably should have had it following a lovely flowing move. The ball was worked initially from right to left only for the ball to be squared into the penalty area to Smith who dragged his shot wide when it looked easier to score.

This attacked prompted a double change from the Rovers boss as Cristian Montano and Matty Taylor replaced Lee Mansell and Jermaine Easter as Rovers looked to get back into the game.

Darrell Clarke's side tried to get back into the game but were only restricted to half chances going into the final 20 minutes as Billy Bodin's curled effort was off target and Liam Lawrence's powerful shot from the edge of the area was blocked well.

Rovers huffed and puffed against a very organised Portsmouth team who were content with counter attacking anything Rovers had to throw at them and it was one of those counter attacks that lead to the home sides third goal. Pompey countered well and in numbers before Kyle Bennett was able to pick out substitute Marc McNulty who was able to calmly slot the ball past an isolated Steve Mildenhall.

The scoreline could have been a lot worse had it not been for some goalkeeping heroics from Steve Mildenhall. Portsmouth flooded men forward as Kyle Bennett whipped a delightful ball into the penalty area which was met by Gareth Evans who could only watch his effort get clawed off the line by Mildenhall.

Darrell Clarke's men had a chance for a late consolation goal after a foul on Stuart Sinclair and Lee Brown stepped up and thundered his direct free kick past Ryan Fulton and into the far corner of the goal.

Up next for Rovers is the visit of Morecambe to the Memorial Stadium before Darrell Clarke's men travel to Adams Park to take on Wycombe Wanderers.

Portsmouth: Fulton; Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Close, Doyle (C); Evans, Roberts (McGurk - 74), Bennett; Smith (McNulty - 68).

Unused Substitutes: Bass (GK), Clarke, Barton, Tollitt, Chaplin.

Rovers: Mildenhall; Leadbitter, Lockyer, Parkes, Brown; Bodin, Mansell (C) (Montano - 55), Sinclair, Lawrence (Lines - 77); Gaffney, Easter (Taylor - 55).

Unused Substitutes: Puddy (GK), McChrystal, O. Clarke, Fallon.

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