Blackpool 1 Pompey 2 – Neil Allen’s match report

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An honourable draw would have been a truly fitting conclusion to the footballing armistice.

Ditching rivalry, supporters of opposing persuasion unified at Bloomfield Road during a remarkable display of solidarity, reaffirming the common good within an often abhorrent industry.

Ronan Curtis celebrates scoring twice for Pompey against Blackpool yesterday

Ronan Curtis celebrates scoring twice for Pompey against Blackpool yesterday

The Fratton faithful and beleaguered Blackpool followers declared an afternoon truce, linking arms and delivering a chorus of criticism towards the loathed Oyston family present.

Such was their boisterous number gathered within the ground, the vast majority of chants on the topic emanated from those 1,638 inhabiting the away section.

Had it not been for the off-side flag intervening at the death, the day would have ended in perfect symmetry with a 2-2 scoreline amid the supporter amnesty.

Mark Cullen, whose entrance as a substitute had already started the fightback with an 81st-minute consolation, still had more work to perform.

During four minutes of time added on, the striker swooped to steer an equaliser into the far corner of the net, yet the flag had long been raised to disrupt smatterings of celebrations around the ground.

Pompey were not to be denied, their benevolence stretches so far.

After all, there was also a football match to win at Bloomfield Road, with only room enough for Ronan Curtis to establish himself as the swashbuckling hero of the afternoon.

Yet Blues fans possess genuine empathy towards their hosts’ ongoing hardships, memories are long and they once marched along similar mountainous terrain.

It was in February 2012, at the same venue, when dissenting Blues voices organised a protest against Balram Chainrai during the televised occasion.

Sky cameras captured the turning of the backs from match action by visiting supporters for a two-minute duration, aimed at registering their disgust at the manner of the club’s handling.

Within a week, Pompey had been put into administration and relieved of 10 points.

On Saturday, Blackpool followers orchestrated their latest demonstration against the Oyston family, after a week which saw manager Gary Bowyer walk out.

Disillusioned with life under the their command, he quit with the season merely a day old – ensuring assistant Terry McPhillips took temporary charge for the visit of the Blues.

While the attendance looked considerably more sparse than the official figure of 4,154 suggested, outside the stadium Tangerine fans congregated to launch a protest, some armed with eggs and smoke bombs.

Beguiling scenes for the Eisner family and Andy Redman to witness during the final match of their week-long stay, before returning to the States.

Still, they departed having observed a second-straight win during an encouraging start to the League One campaign from Kenny Jackett’s men.

The performance was a considerable improvement on the scratchy victory over Luton on the opening day, which had drawn criticism among the toasting of triumph.

The Blackpool outcome may not have been a golden performance, but it was still a few gears higher, more palatable to observe and – until the 81st minute – the visitors were in supreme control.

Then arrived that needlessly nervy finish, aided and abetted by a flurry of reckless conceding of free-kicks in potentially dangerous situations.

Thankfully Pompey held onto the victory they deserved to negotiate the long trip home in better spirits than many had arrived, courtesy of long M6 delays while travelling northwards.

And it was that man Curtis once more on everybody’s lips.

The former Derry City player captured the attention during pre-season following his Fratton Park recruitment – and has maintained such an eye-catching standard.

What’s more, on Saturday he netted his maiden goals for the club during a man-of-the-match display which dares to suggest the Blues have an excellent player on their hands.

Early days, granted, many still remember John Utaka’s initial impact, but Curtis has made a superb entrance into the English game, creating a new dimension to the side’s attacking capabilities.

Jackett had switched the system for the trip to Blackpool, with the versatile forward asked to operate on the left of an attacking three. It was in contrast to serving in a two-pronged attack against Luton.

Certainly Pompey’s boss sprung a surprise in terms of both formation and personnel, particularly with the sight of Brett Pitman dropped to the bench.

The skipper and last season’s 25-goal inspiration was taken off at half-time on the opening day. Subsequently he was a substitute not used at Bloomfield Road.

Instead, among three changes, Oli Hawkins was handed a start in a 4-3-3, flanked by Curtis and Jamal Lowe, with Tom Naylor sitting deep in the midfield trio.

There were also call-ups for Gareth Evans and Ben Close, the former handed the captain’s armband in the absence of Pitman, with Brandon Haunstrup moving to the bench and Nathan Thompson injured.

Finally, Anton Walkes switched from midfield to right-back.

Yet after 20 seconds the Blues were fortunate not to have fallen behind after Joe Dodoo shot’s struck the near post.

The visitors, however, took the lead on nine minutes when Hawkins steered a header into the box and Curtis reacted to bustle past the defender and bundle the ball into the net.

On 37 minutes, the lively Irishman struck the inside of the far post with a right-footed shot, before grabbing his second on 59 minutes.

Hawkins again was involved, flicking the ball on, and Curtis wriggled through and fired a fierce right-footed shot through the legs of the keeper and into the net.

It appeared the match had been decided – only for the Tangerines to be gifted a lifeline.

Mark Howard’s long goal kick was allowed a pathway into Pompey’s penalty area and Cullen stuck out a foot to loft it over Craig MacGillivray a split second before Matt Clarke’s challenge.

Thankfully, though, the Blues’ demonstration of solidarity didn’t extend to also sharing the points.