Portsmouth 3 Fleetwood 3: Agony for Town as three-goal lead slips away

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Crestfallen Fleetwood Town were left heartbroken by Aiden O’Brien’s 95th-minute equaliser.
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The Cod Army squandered a first-half 3-0 lead as they missed the chance to open up a welcome four-point cushion above the League One relegation zone.

Stephen Crainey’s side hadn’t played for two weeks after home games against Lincoln City and Sheffield Wednesday were postponed due to snow and storm damage.

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Paddy Lane (left) celebrates scoring Fleetwood's third goal at Portsmouth with Callum Camps
:Picture: SAM FIELDING / PRiME MEDIA IMAGESPaddy Lane (left) celebrates scoring Fleetwood's third goal at Portsmouth with Callum Camps
Paddy Lane (left) celebrates scoring Fleetwood's third goal at Portsmouth with Callum Camps :Picture: SAM FIELDING / PRiME MEDIA IMAGES

But the on-song visitors showed no signs of rust as they shook off the cobwebs by blowing away Pompey, who had won three on the bounce, in the first half at Fratton Park.

Anthony Pilkington scored after just seven minutes, then Harrison Biggins and Paddy Lane also struck before half-time.

The hosts hit back on the stroke of the break through Ronan Curtis’ penalty.

Marcus Harness got the hosts’ second 10 minutes before the end and O’Brien struck deep into stoppage time as Fleetwood were excruciatingly forced to settle for just a point.

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Fleetwood remain just two points above the dreaded drop zone after their seventh game without a win.

The hosts started brightly as Tyler Walker had an early sight at goal but blasted his effort wide of the mark.

Pilkington met Ellis Harrison’s ball to net his fourth goal in eight appearances as the Cod Army got off to the perfect start.

And it was two not long later. Carl Johnston and Lane linked up on the right-hand side as the former crossed for Biggins to fire home the second into the top corner.

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Down the other end, Denver Hume’s effort drifted wide as the hosts tried to force their way back into the game.

Pilkington tried to catch Gavin Bazuna off-guard at the near post but the keeper was up to the task.

Danny Andrew saw his in-swinging corner land on the roof of the net, before Curtis did well to force an angle before blasting wide of the mark.

And Johnston’s trickery unlocked the hosts for a second time as he teed up Lane to unleash a rocket into the top corner four minutes before the interval.

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Portsmouth were handed a lifeline when Callum Camps handled inside the box on the stroke of half-time.

And Curtis made no mistake from 12 yards to give the hosts a glimmer of home in stoppage time.

Pompey powered out of the blocks in the second half as Recco Hackett-Fairchild missed the target.

Town shot-stopper Alex Cairns proved his worth as he scrambled the ball off the line just before the hour.

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Walker was offside when he fired home before O’Brien forced Cairns into a decent near-post save.

But Cairns made a mess of Curtis’ dangerous corner as Harness set up a grandstand finish with 10 minutes to go.

And O’Brien struck the hammer blow with a cool finish right at the very end.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Johnston, Nsiala, Clarke, Jules, Andrew, Lane (Baggley 90), Camps, Biggins, Pilkington (Butterworth 23), Harrison (Garner 86); Subs not used: O'Hara, Morris, Boyle, Hayes.

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Portsmouth: Bazunu, Carter (Hirst 78), Raggett, Robertson, Harness, Tunnicliffe, Morrell, Hume (O'Brien 69), Hackett-Fairchild, Curtis, Walker: Subs not used: Romeo, Ogilvie, Thompson, Mingi, Webber.

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