Accrington 1 Pompey 3

Kyle Bennett celebrates after netting the opener at Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kyle Bennett celebrates after netting the opener at Accrington. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kyle Bennett in action against Crawley. Pictures: Neil Marshall

GALLERY: Crawley 1 Pompey 2

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A first half blitz of Accrington Stanley kickstarted Pompey’s automatic promotion hopes.

Three goals from the Blues at the Crown Ground saw them pick up a 3-1 win in a clash touted by both clubs as their biggest game of the season.

Kyle Bennett, an own goal from Matty Pearson and a goal-of-the-season contender from Michael Doyle did the damage for Paul Cook’s rampant men.

Pompey toyed with their rivals and looked comfortable after the break, despite Shay McCartan grabbing a goal back with seven minutes left.

The win lifts Cook’s side to fourth in the table – six points off the automatic promotion berths.

The needle was ramped up before the game as Rommy Boco was named on the Accy bench, despite the gentleman’s agreement between the sides.

John Colemam may be regretting that decision as a fired up Pompey ripped into Stanley.

Bennett and Gary Roberts had early 30-yarders before the latter flashed a header at Jason Mooney.

The opener came after 22 minutes when Roberts opened up the Accy defence and Gareth Evans crossed for Bennett to smash the ball in via the post.

Doyle then cracked a volley off the bar as Pompey poured forward.

There was a slice of fortune about the second as a menacing ball in from Ben Davies was fired past his own keeper by Pearson.

Bennett then could have had a third when he volleyed over from six yards from Michael Smith’s cross.

That arrived four minutes later in spectacular style as Davies’ free-kick was headed clear to Doyle, who hit a peach of a 25-yard volley which left Mooney grasping at thin air.

The second half started as the first finished – with Pompey on the front foot.

And Pearson nearly scored his second own goal of the night as he flicked Davies’ cross goalwards – but Mooney tipped the ball over

Billy Kee put a header wide from a free-kick after 57 minutes in a rare Stanley chance.

But the ball was soon back up the other end as Smith fired wide from eight yards.

Kal Naismith fired at Mooney on the angle when well placed seconds after his introduction.

Pompey switched off to hand Accrington a consolation with seven minutes left as McCartan was allowed to swivel and smash a ball home from six yards.

It mattered little, however, as Cook’s side saw the game out to pick up a big three points.