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Fleetwood Town 2 v 5 Portsmouth
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 29th December 2018 Kick-off 15:00
Pompey leave Cod Army looking like they've gone fishing
Saturday, 29th Dec 2018 21:50 by staff

Pompey don't always do things easily - and they certainly didn't at Fleetwood.

After going one up through a brilliant Ben Thompson strike they found themselves 2-1 down at the break after conceding twice in the final six minutes of the first half - one of the goals a dubious penalty.

But they turned on the style after the break - and after Fleetwood had gone down to 10 men - to score four and run out 5-2 winners.

That means Pompey head into 2019 three points clear at the top of League One, with nearest chasers Sunderland and Luton both dropping points.

There were one or two surprises in the starting line-up with Brett Pitman starting in place of the injured Oli Hawkins and Ben Close in for Gareth Evans. Anton Walkes replaced the injured Nathan Thompson.

And after Lee Brown was forced off injured, it was Pompey's other Thompson, Ben, who fired Kenny Jackett's team ahead on 26 minutes with a fierce shot from well outside the box after Pitman had touched Jack Whatmough's pass to him.

But if things looked calm and rosy for Pompey at that point, the momentum swung violently in the latter stages of the first half. First Paddy Madden ran on to a cross and shot low past Craig MacGillivray to level on 39 minutes - then four minutes later Ched Evans converted from the spot after Matt Clarke was harshly ruled to have fouled Madden after he had hit a shot wide.

That was not in the script but Pompey's terrific second half comeback was - though no on could have predicted quite how emphatically they'd respond to their setbacks.

Fleetwood lost Dean Marney to a second yellow card on 51 minutes - he could not really complain, although he did - and six minutes later Pitman levelled from 12 yards after Ronan Curtis was pushed to the floor during an aerial challenge.

Within a minute it was 3-2 as Walkes curled in a beauty with his left foot, again after Curtis was involved in the build-up.

Against 10 men you felt Pompey couldn't not win from there - but Fleetwood to their credit kept battling and hit the woodwork twice in one spell of pressure.

Soon after that Curtis played in Jamal Lowe to finish - and finish the contest. Then three minutes later Lowe decided he rather liked this idea of scoring himself and ran on to a Thompson ball over the top and smashed in No5.

That was more like it after the defeat at Gillingham and sets up Pompey for another big week - they host AFC Wimbledon on New Year's Day, then go to Championship high flyers Norwich in the FA Cup next Saturday.

Pompey: MacGillivray; Walkes, Whatmough, Clarke, Brown (Haunstrup 19); B Thompson, Naylor, Close (Evans 53); Lowe, Pitman, Curtis (Green 90). Subs not used: Bass, Burgess, Wheeler, Mason

Referee: Matt Donohue

Attendance: 3,494 (853 Pompey fans)


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