Portsmouth 0 Fleetwood 0: Town dig in for hard-earned point and almost snatch victory at the death

Fleetwood made it four points from two tough away games as they dug deep to hold high-flying Portsmouth at Fratton Park.
Callum Camps with a flying header for Fleetwood at PortsmouthCallum Camps with a flying header for Fleetwood at Portsmouth
Callum Camps with a flying header for Fleetwood at Portsmouth
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The hosts moved into the top two for the first time in 19 months with this point, but that was all they deserved as Joey Barton’s organised outfit frustrated them and looked like a team capable of mounting a play-off challenge of their own.

And the Cod Army might even have completed a smash and grab in the last minute when defender Charlie Mulgrew’s header was brilliantly blocked by Pompey keeper Craig MacGillvray.

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That would have been harsh on the home side but Fleetwood’s resilience, with Mulgrew outstanding in the heat of their defence, deserved reward.

Having won 1-0 at Swindon on Saturday, it has been a productive few days for the Cod Army, who return to Highbury on Saturday to face Wigan Athletic before travelling to Crewe on Boxing Day.

Town made one change to the side which won at Swindon, Jordan Rossiter starting in midfield instead of Paul Coutts.

It was card-happy referee Alan Young who nearly stole the spotlight. Young had booked 61 players in his previous 15 games this season and by half-time had added another seven names to his long list, six in a 14-minute spell before the break.

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Tempers cooled in the second half, with only Fleetwood sub Mark Duffy cautioned.

Pompey were convinced Andrews should have seen red for a foul on John Marquis moments after he’d been booked but the referee gave him the benefit of the doubt.

The hosts made most of the running in the first half but keeper Jayson Leutwiler was well protected by his defenders, and when he called upon he made two good saves.

In the 12th minute Portsmouth defender Jack Whatmough picked out Ryan Williams in space on the edge of the box but Leutwiler pushed away his powerful drive.

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His only other moment of alarm came from one of his own team-mates, when Marcus Harness’ cross in stoppage time deflected off Rossiter but Leutwiler adroitly adjusted his position to push the ball over the bar.

Fleetwood worked hard all over the pitch and probably had the best chance of the first half. Paddy Madden’s brilliant pass released Josh Morris, but Craig MacGillvray spread himself to block the shot.

Neither side threatened for the first 20 minutes of the second half, with both sides guilty of giving the ball away cheaply.

Ronan Curtis raised Portsmouth hopes when he exchanged passes with Marquis only to drill his shot wide of the post.

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But it was a rare moment of alarm for the Cod Army, who pressed hard all over the pitch and harried their hosts into mistakes.

The relentless schedule seemed to take its toll in the closing stages as both teams looked tired and passes went astray.

Barton brought on James Hill, Coutts and Duffy in the closing stages, and in the 89th minute Fleetwood nearly won it.

Mulgrew was left holding his head in his hands in frustration when his powerful header from Andrew’s free-kick was somehow kept out by MacGillvray. Town slip a spot to 10th in the table.

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Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Johnson, Whatmough, Raggett, Pring, Williams (Harrison 60), Naylor, Cannon, Curtis (Jacobs 73), Harness, Marquis; Subs not used: Close, Nicolaisen, Hiwula, Bass, Mnoga.

Fleetwood: Leutwiler, Burns, Mulgrew, Connolly, Andrew, Finley (Coutts 78), Rossiter, McKay (Hill 74), Camps, Morris (Duffy 79), Madden; Subs not used: Cairns, Boyes, Matete, Saunders

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 2,000

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