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Report: Pompey 2 Dale 0
Sunday, 6th Aug 2017 08:35 by Col

Dale ultimately paid the price for a sending half twenty minutes into the game as they fell 2-0 against League 2 Champions Portsmouth.

It was a game of few chances, with the only real two efforts on goal coming from Bret Pitman who finished both superbly.

The first half was scruffy and arguably your typical first day of the season with both sides struggling to find their feet and take control of the game. Both sides offered something but not something of note and the keepers remained untested.

The turning point came 20 minutes into the game. A skyward header from McNulty left us exposed, and this led to Connor Chaplin streaking through. Keane chased back and kind of clipped his opponents legs as he ran past him.

Chaplin was heading goalward, Keane was the last man, it was a red card all day long. I'd have had a lot more sympathy for Keane if he was making some sort of challenge, but even after seeing a replay, I can't quite fathom out what he was attempting to do.

The rejig saw Brown revert to centre half, with Cannon moving to right back, and whilst it wasn't always pretty, it seemed to do the job as we kept Pompey at back for the remainder of the half.

So after all the hard work, and the half time team talk, the self destruct button was pressed with barely sixty seconds on the second half clock.

Pitman got the better of Reece Brown out on the left wing, nutmegged Andy Cannon, and for a moment it looked like we'd got away with it as his initial shot was well blocked, but he gathered the rebound, and with outstanding composure, waited for the right moment before curling it into the far corner. 1-0 Pompey.

At that stage, we were expecting something of an onslaught from a resurgent Pompey, backed by a sell out crowd, but if anything despite being one man light, we became the better side as the second half progressed, and there were certainly plenty of positives involved.

Matty Done was brought on to a hero's welcome, and we played with a real pace up front, backed by the youthful energy of Allen and Rathbone, and for a large periods, it looked like a second goal would be coming from those sporting black and white. However, truth be told, despite the positives from this spell, we didn't convert it to actual genuine goalscoring chances, and half chances were all we had.

Parity in terms of numbers was restored late on when Jamal Lowe clashed with Jamie Allen. It happened just outside of their penalty box, and for me, it looked to be clumsy rather than malicious but it certainly left Allen worse off. The ref who was possibly the closest person to it brought out his red card straight away.

Arguably, their sending off worked against us as in the remaining ten minutes, we produced fewer attacks than we had in the previous ten. We huffed and puffed without success, and that was always going to leave us vulnerable at the back. Nthle was beaten out near the far touchline, with his opponent producing a superb cross to be met by a perfect looping header from Pitman.

At the end, Pitman proved to be the difference between the two sides with his two outstanding finishes. Plenty of positives, but a fair few questions as well.

Photo: Action Images

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