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Rochdale 0 v 3 Portsmouth
SkyBet League One
Saturday, 23rd November 2019 Kick-off 15:00
Match Report: Dale 0-3 Portsmouth
Sunday, 24th Nov 2019 14:16 by AtThePeake

Dale slipped to a fifth straight league defeat after going down 0-3 to Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon.

A brace from Ronan Curtis, followed by a late third from Ryan Williams, handed Pompey all three points despite Dale enjoying 68% of possession in the game.

A few more absences in the shape of players like Calvin Andrew and Aaron Wilbraham left Brian Barry-Murphy with a forced hand for his starting line-up but what really jarred was the substitutes bench. As if to scream out to the board that more additions are made to this squad, all six outfield players on the bench were academy graduates, having made about 25 EFL appearances between them.

Unfortunately the trimming of the squad coupled with a fairly serious injury crisis have left players out of form still in the starting eleven and that much was clear in what was a pretty lacklustre display.

Dale arguably started the better of the two sides, Keohane smashing a long-range effort wide and the Irishman, in at left-back whilst Norrington-Davies was moved into centre-back, had a cross almost dip at the back post, clipping the crossbar on the way over.

By the 15 minute mark though, Pompey had the lead. Some fantastic work from Marquis on the right hand side led to a bobbling ball across the box which was met by Curtis before Matheson and thumped past Robert Sanchez and into the net.

Williams was a threat through the half with his direct running and his thunderous strike after a poorly defended corner was well blocked by O'Connell but it was clear after this that the visitors were bound to sit deeper and look to hit us on the counter-attack.

Up to Dale then to break them down, and we harried, hassled and looked for a breakthrough with little to no success over the rest of the half. That said, Rekeil Pyke was desperately unlucky with a looping backwards header from Morley's angled cross which bounced back out from the upright.

As the second half kicked-off, there was a general feeling that Dale were in the game. They had controlled possession and created the best chance of the game since Pompey's goal and indeed the visitors, perhaps a little cagey given their recent away form, didn't seem to be offering much going forward and were sitting deeper and deeper...

By two minutes into the half though, it was 0-2. A low cross from Williams deflected off O'Connell and into the path of the advancing Curtis, who swept home into the bottom corner with the confidence of a man who had already scored once in the game.

Dale kept pushing but with very few options on the bench to try and change the pattern of play it was always going to be a struggle, particularly with Pompey now happy for us to have all the possession we needed without actually probing or creating anything of note.

The only real chance that came in the half fell to Camps after a wonderful dummy from Henderson on Keohane's low cross, but the midfielder's strike was saved acrobatically by MacGillivray in the Pompey goal.

Even at this point, Portsmouth always felt the more likely team to score. Hawkins had a header that hit the crossbar and Sanchez made a fine save after Williams had broken through for a one-on-one.

With the game fizzling out, a Pompey fan made his way onto the pitch but was quickly accosted by two stewards. Somebody on my row commented that he had a two year banning order coming his way - making a pitch invasion seem pretty appealing to me.

To be honest, I didn't see how the third goal was scored as by that point I was half way to the sweet, warm release of the Cem and a few pints of Timothy Taylor's.

All in all, it was a frustrating, disappointing afternoon at Spotland and looking at the fixtures, there could be a few more of those coming up. Make no mistake though, even if we get players fit, we need to make some additions to this squad if we're to make any progress this season in realising Brian Barry-Murphy's long-term plans.

Player Ratings

Robert Sanchez - 6: Maybe could have done better with the first goal and also gifted Pompey possession a few times. Great save from Williams though.

Luke Matheson - 5: I'm starting to think Luke's natural technical ability might be suited to a position higher up the pitch. His man scored the first two goals and the better wingers in this league seem to know how to get the better of him and on the highlights it seems he was playing the Pompey forwards onside for the final goal. Got forward okay though.

Eoghan O'Connell - 6: Can't really fault him too much but you can't really give a centre-half more than a 6 when you've lost 0-3 at home can you?

Rhys Norrington-Davies - 6: See above.

Jimmy Keohane - 6: Tried to get forward and played a couple of dangerous balls but I do feel sorry for him a bit, he's constantly played in different positions that aren't natural to him and in an underperforming side.

Aaron Morley - 5: Played two or three fantastic long-range passes but they don't cancel out his dreadful set-pieces and the amount of times he gave possession away in the middle of the park.

MJ Williams - 4: Really struggling for form still. Suspect in a larger squad he may have been dropped by now. Not sure what he's offering at the moment and especially when we're chasing the game.

Matt Done - 5: Let me make it clear - I don't think Matt Done's form is an indication of a player who isn't trying. I think he's leaving everything out on that pitch - he just lacks that pace and sharpness that made him so effective in his previous spells.

Callum Camps - 5: Probably his worst display of the season. Looked frustrated at times which is bound to happen when his job is to find the space between the oppositions midfield and defence and there basically wasn't any here.

Rekeil Pyke - 4: Was desperately unlucky with the header but offered the square root of nothing aside from that.

Ian Henderson - 6: Cuts a frustrated figure at the moment. Deserves more support, deserves more everything. Pulled off a few inventive little tricks and flicks but there was little he could do in a game like this.

Photo: Action Images

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