Pompey 2 Blackpool 0 – Neil Allen’s match report

Eoin Doyle, right, slides home Pompey's second goal - his first for the club - late on in the Blues' 2-0 win over Blackpool  Picture: Joe Pepler

Eoin Doyle, right, slides home Pompey's second goal - his first for the club - late on in the Blues' 2-0 win over Blackpool Picture: Joe Pepler

Stanley Aborah. Picture: Colin Farmery

Pompey swoop for midfielder

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Unity and support had been the buzzwords in the build-up for the visit of Blackpool.

And how Fratton Park delivered.

Pompey were at their waspish best on occasions, while the faithful roared them on with heartening positivity.

The outcome was victory – a second consecutive win and the return of a little belief in automatic promotion aspirations.

The Blues required conviction on and off the field of play – and it all came together for another crucial triumph in front of a Fratton faithful at their finest.

Gareth Evans deservedly opened the scoring against the Tangerines in the 27th minute.

The cross was delivered by Enda Stevens, with the opposite full-back on the end of it, sweeping home a left-foot finish.

Just reward for an outstanding opening 45 minutes, while supporters magnificently answered SOS Pompey’s calls for non-stop backing.

It was then left for the tireless Eoin Doyle to slide home his first goal for the club in stoppage-time to seal a 2-0 victory few could question was warranted.

Paul Cook’s side were outstanding as a team, throwing themselves into the fixture with immeasurable guts and determination. The swagger was indeed back.

It was the attitude the Fratton faithful had demanded.

Now the Blues find themselves up to fifth in the table – four points off the automatic spots with a game in hand.

Cook named the same starting line-up for the third successive match as he put his faith in consistent selection.

That meant Eoin Doyle continuing to lead the attack in a 4-2-3-1 system, marking his third appearance since arriving on loan.

Behind him, in the attacking midfield three, Jamal Lowe, Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett were entrusted with supplying Pompey’s creativity.

That meant no recall for Kal Naismith, despite his seventh goal of the season, after appearing as a second-half substitute in Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Accrington.

His stoppage-time strike ensured he stood alongside Roberts and Conor Chaplin as the Blues’ leading scorer so far this season.

The sole alteration among the 18-man match-day squad was Jack Whatmough replacing Tom Davies among the substitutes.

With Curtis Main the only injury absentee, Cook effectively was at full strength as he attempted to close in on the automatic promotion spots.

Meanwhile, Blackpool made one change to the side who surprisingly won 4-1 at Carlisle last weekend.

With midfielder Neil Danns nursing a hamstring problem, Jack Payne was granted a Fratton Park start.

That again meant no start for striker Jamille Matt – Pompey’s play-off tormentor while representing Plymouth last season.

Cook had ordered the pitch to be heavily watered before the match, instructions that were also carried out against Stanley.

When the match got under way, the crossbar deprived the Blues an early lead.

Eoin Doyle scampered down the left and squared the ball to Roberts, whose first-time right-foot shot from eight yards rattled the woodwork.

It was agony for the hosts, whose Fratton faithful had begun the game in fine voice.

Moments later, Jordan Flores fired in a right-foot shot from long range which was straight at keeper David Forde, who held on comfortably.

Yet Pompey were looking confident and, on nine minutes, Roberts whipped in a low cross from the left and Eoin Doyle got ahead of his man to steer a shot the wrong side of the post.

Christian Burgess was booked on 12 minutes when Kyle Vassell crumpled to the floor far too easily having got the wrong side of the defender.

Flores took the free-kick from the left, but it was too high and rapid for his team-mates to make contact and the ball flew out for a goal-kick.

Amine Linganzi, who really impressed in the opening exchanges, drove in a left-foot shot from 25 yards on 18 minutes.

However, it travelled straight down the throat of Tangerines keeper Sam Slocombe, who gathered with the minimum of fuss.

Kelvin Mellor became the first Blackpool player to be booked when, on 21 minutes, he took out Lowe down the left with an ugly sliding challenge.

In the 24th minute, Vassell drove in an angled right-foot shot which had Forde pushing the ball around the post at full length for a corner.

The deadlock, however, was broken on 27 minutes, falling in the Blues’ favour.

Stevens stormed down the left and whipped in a cross which was missed completely by Linganzi, but there was Evans to rattle a left-foot shot into the net.

The right-back led a joyous celebration, with even Forde coming up from his penalty area to mob the scorer in front of the dugouts.

Moments later, Roberts steered a deft header agonisingly wide of the far post as Pompey searched to extend their lead.

The hosts were playing impressively, and when Evans delivered a wonderful low cross in from the right, Eoin Doyle was narrowly unable to connect.

Roberts entered the referee’s notebook on 36 minutes after a lunge on Flores down the left-hand side.

Eoin Doyle was then given a golden opportunity to open his Blues account with half-time approaching following a lovely pass from Roberts.

However, the striker strode forward and blasted a right-foot shot from outside the box comfortably over the bar.

The half-time score was 1-0 and there were no substitutions during the interval as the teams resumed battle.

Minutes after the restart, Brad Potts sent in a half-volley which screwed wide of the target.

At the other end, a long pass from Matt Clarke down the left channel gave Eoin Doyle hope inside the box, but he couldn’t quite lift the ball over Slocombe, who gathered.

On 58 minutes, Blackpool won a corner down the left, which was cleared after the ball bounced around inside the box.

Then Roberts won a free-kick down the left off Mellor and, when Bennett’s deliver came in, Burgess’ bicycle-kick flew well wide.

In the 62nd minute, Bennett nipped in to retrieve the ball and produce a sublime angled pass to Eoin Doyle.

However, the striker lacked the conviction to attack the penalty area, instead opting to hold the ball up and the move petered out.

Cook made his first substitution on 68 minutes, when Lowe was replaced by Carl Baker on the right of the attacking three.

There was a scare for the hosts in the 73rd minute when Flores’ ball from the left eluded the Pompey defence, but there was Stevens at the far post to throw himself in front of Potts’ shot.

It was magnificent bravery from the left-back as he deflected the ball wide to earn himself a hug from Burgess.

Evans had to be replaced by Naismith following what appeared to be an injury to his left shoulder, and soon headed down the tunnel for treatment.

In the 81st minute, the Tangerines made a triple substitution, which was followed by Bennett being replaced by Whatmough for the hosts.

With five minutes of time added on, the finale was tense.

Baker drilled past the post having been put through by Eoin Doyle. Then, with full-time approaching, the striker combined with the substitute down the left channel of the penalty area.

Baker fired in a cross and Eoin Doyle prodded the ball home to put the match out of reach.

Doyle is now off the mark – and the Blues are truly back up and running.

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