18.03.23 Match Report - Rovers v Portsmouth

Portsmouth take the points at The Mem.

A penalty, a red card and a dubious offside call saw Rovers slump to a two-nil reverse to Portsmouth. Colby Bishop scored both goals and Gas defender Jarell Quansah was sent off late on to make it two home defeats in a week.

Rovers had made two changes to the side that started against Wycombe on Tuesday evening. In came Luca Hoole and Antony Evans to replace Scott Sinclair and James Connolly, who were named on the substitutes bench. 

John Marquis was fouled in the 8th minute to hand Rovers a free-kick in a decent position thirty-five yards from goal. 

Evans' delivery was perfect for the advancing Lewis Gibson, but the newly-installed captain could only direct his header straight to Portsmouth goalkeeper Macey, who left Rovers as a youngster to join Arsenal in 2013.

Portsmouth's first attack in the 14th minute saw them win a corner, which Coburn was able to head clear.

Collins went close to opening the scoring in the 15th minute after his long-range shot was tipped behind by Macey. After the corner was cleared, Gordon played a beautiful diagonal ball to Evans, but a Pompey defender just nicked it off his toe as he shaped to cross.

From the corner, Quansah - who was clearly being held by Rafferty - still managed to get his head on it but it flew narrowly wide.

It was to prove costly as the visitors went ahead in the 19th minute as Bishop beat the offside flag to fire across goal and in off the post. In the aftermath, referee Bell booked Rovers' coaches Andy Mangan and Glenn Whelan, who were incensed by the lack of a flag from the linesman.

After 26 minutes, Belshaw claimed low down as Hackett shot on target from twenty yards.

Ward was shown a yellow after 36 minutes for a foul on Thompson.

Ironic cheers reverberated around The Mem after 40 minutes as first the linesman flagged for offside and then the referee awarded the Gas a free-kick after Marquis was bundled over. Evans' delivery was headed clear by Towler.

Marquis blazed over from just inside the area in the 42nd minute, after a surging run from Bogarde and a pass from Collins had presented the former Portsmouth man with a chance to equalise.

Rovers made two changes at half-time, with Sinclair and Macdonald replacing Marquis and Gordon. Joey Barton was shown a yellow card during the half-time interval.

Portsmouth almost doubled their lead in the opening minute, but Evans intercepted well at the back post.

Hackett fired over from an acute angle in the 49th minute.

A quickly-taken free-kick from Evans a minute later found Aaron Collins in space; his first-time cross flashed across the face of the Portsmouth goal, inches away from Coburn.

Macdonald's cross was headed behind for a corner as the Gas looked for the equaliser, attacking the Thatchers End.

Ward was next to threaten the visitors' goal, as Evans and Collins combined to set up a headed opportunity after 57 minutes that the midfielder guided just wide.

The number eight then took a snapshot from outside the area, but the ball flew well over Macey's bar.

Jacobs' corner hit the post before Pompey were awarded a penalty after Macdonald impeded a Portsmouth striker as he looked to reach the rebound from a Belshaw save. Bishop calmly sent the Gas 'keeper the wrong way to put the visitors two-up in the 67th minute.

Quansah headed on target as the home side looked to strike immediately back, but Macey claimed, before Bishop went looking for his hat-trick with an audacious effort from all of fifty yards. 

Loft and Finley were introduced after 72 minutes, replacing Evans and Ward.

Portsmouth won a free-kick on the edge of the area after Jacobs was tripped. The same player stepped up to take it but hammered his effort straight at the Rovers wall.

Macdonald fired over a great cross that Hoole headed goalwards, but Macey parried, with Loft heading wide from the follow-up.

Tunnicliffe was shown a yellow for a cynical trip on Sinclair in the 75th minute. The Rovers number seven took it himself and drew a flying save from Macey, resulting in a Gas corner.

Collins played a neat one-two with Bogarde but his low shot on target was claimed by Macey.

Quansah was shown a straight red for a late tackle on Morrell in the 89th minute.

Next up for Rovers is another home game, against Charlton Athletic in Sky Bet League One on Good Friday.

Rovers: Belshaw, Gordon (Macdonald 45), Quansah, Ward, Marquis (Sinclair 45), Collins, Gibson (c), Evans, Bogarde, Hoole, Coburn.

Subs: Balcombe, Sinclair, Finley, Loft, Connolly, Whelan, Macdonald.

Portsmouth: Macey, Ogilvie, Tunnicliffe, Bishop, Morrell, Rafferty, Hackett-Fairchild, Raggett (c), Thompson, Lane, Towler.

Subs: Oluwayemi, Robertson, Dale, Scarlett, Jacobs, Lowery, Bernard.

Attendance: 9,448 (1,275 away) 

Referee: James Bell

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