MATCH REPORT: Portsmouth 2-0 Blackpool

Kyle Vassell looks on dejected as Pompey celebrate their opener
Kyle Vassell looks on dejected as Pompey celebrate their opener
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There was no romance for Blackpool on Valentine’s Day as they were given a footballing lesson by Portsmouth during their 2-0 defeat.

Eoin Doyle struck in the final minute of injury time to put gloss on a dominant home performance by Paul Cook's men, after Gareth Evans had deservedly put them in front in the first half.

In truth, the Seasiders rarely threatened against a side that looks odds on to finish in the top seven. In fact, Portsmouth looked a level above and it seems surprising they were as low as sixth in the League Two table coming into the match.

Gary Bowyer’s men, meanwhile, failed to build on Saturday’s impressive 4-1 away win at Carlisle as they lost more ground on the play-offs.

The hosts, boosted by the typically raucous Fratton Park crowd, settled the quicker and had a gilt-edged chance to open the lead in the early stages.

Preston-loanee Eoin Doyle was afforded too much space on the corner of the Pool box and fed Gary Roberts, who could only side foot against the woodwork from eight yards out.

Doyle himself then went close, firing wide at the front post after some good play down Pompey’s left-hand flank.

The home side continued to look dangerous in the opening minutes as they ploughed forward in numbers, while affording the men in tangerine no time on the ball whatsoever.

But the longer Pool kept the scores level, the edgier the home crowd became and they soon began to moan and groan at sideways and backward passes.

Chances for the visitors were few and far between in the early stages but they did force a good save out of David Forde as Kyle Vassell tried to arrow his shot into the bottom corner, but the Pompey ‘keeper got a strong hand to it to tip it wide.

Just as it looked like Gary Bowyer’s men were beginning to grow into the game, the home side struck a decisive blow as Gareth Evans handed them the lead.

The full back was left alone at the back post after Pool had failed to deal with a dangerous ball into their box and he coolly fired home into the top corner, giving Sam Slocombe no chance.

One almost immediately became two as Pompey had Pool on the ropes, but Gary Roberts was unable to steer his back post header into the bottom corner - missing by inches.

Paul Cook’s side looked a constant threat going forward and seemed to be a second ahead to every loose ball.

Not only that, their quality also shone through in the final third, with a superb Evans cross only just evading Doyle towards the end of the opening period after the cross had been fizzed across the six-yard box.

Blackpool’s game plan was plain to see: sit back and look to hit Portsmouth on the break. But with the hosts confident on the ball and happy to keep possession, the Seasiders struggled to get any attacks started.

Pool appeared more intent on taking the game to their opponents in the opening stages of the second half, which saw Brad Potts try his luck from the edge of the box only to see his volley loop comfortably over the bar.

Pool kept their foot on the gas and gaps began to appear, with Will Aimson the next to have a go from range only to see his volley fly high and wide of the Portsmouth goal.

The roles reversed in the second period as Pool began to see more of the ball while the hosts were content to sit on their lead and look to pick the Seasiders off on the counter.

This presented them with plenty of chances though, as Eoin Doyle found himself in space towards the edge of the Pool box but could only shoot low and straight at Slocombe.

Try as they might, the Seasiders were constantly kept at an arm’s length by Cook’s men, who showed little adventure in the final stages.

Opportunities did eventually fall Pool’s way, with Brad Potts denied at the back post by a superb block when it looked like he would have a simple tap-in.

Pompey substitute Carl Baker then had a good opportunity to double his side’s lead on the break but Clark Robertson recovered well to get in a vital clearance of his own.

Pool resorted to desperate long punts in the dying stages as they pressed for a priceless late equaliser. They also looked a threat from free kicks into the box, with Tom Aldred going close as he flashed a header just wide of the post.

The men in tangerine huffed and puffed in the final stages but in truth, they very rarely threatened as Pompey showed experience to wind the clock down and hold on for a slender but deserved 1-0 win.

Carl Baker could and perhaps should have made it 2-0 when he raced through on goal in injury time on the break, but he slashed wide of goal. Bright Osayi-Samuel repeated the same trick as he lashed wide of goal when the ball fell to him in the Pompey box.

Doyle finally got his goal as he completed the victory with a simple tap-in.

Portsmouth: Forde, Stevens, Clarke, Burgess, M. Doyle, Roberts, E.Doyle, Lowe (Baker), Bennett (Whatmough), Linganzi, Evans (Naismith)

Subs not used: O’Brien, Rose, Chaplin, Hunt

Blackpool: Slocombe, Mellor, Aimson, Aldred, Robertson, Daniel, Payne (Matt), Flores, Potts (Osayi-Samuel), Vassell (Odelusi), Delfouneso

Subs not used: Lyness, Nolan, Cullen, Gnanduillet

Referee: Darren Deadman

Attendance: 15,132 (216)