Pompey 3 Bristol Rovers 0

Ben Close in action against Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ben Close in action against Bristol Rovers at Fratton Park. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Streetwise Pompey produced a battling peformance to beat Bristol Rovers 3-0 at Fratton Park.

Oli Hawkins’ maiden goal for the Blues (42), plus two Brett Pitman efforts in the second half (77 and 85) handed Kenny Jackett’s side their third League One victory on home soil this season to move them up to 11th in the table.

The Pompey manager had called for his side to show more nous in the division following recent away defeats at Northampton and Scunthorpe.

And his troops delivered on that front as they edged an enthralling battle under the lights.

Rovers looked to have shaded the first half as the clocked ticked down towards half-time.

The Blues had a couple of Jamal Lowe crosses that fizzed across the edge of the box to get the Fratton faithful on their feet.

But it was the visitors who posed the main threat, especially when it took both Christian Burgess and Matt Clarke to put their bodies on the line to deny Billy Boden and then Ollie Clarke what looked like clear-cut opportunities midway through the half.

Before that, Burgess was also on hand to deny Tom Nichols.

But while the Pompey defence held firm, it was the opposite at the other end on 42 minutes when Hawkins got on the end of Dion Donohue’s inch-perfect cross to nod the hosts in front – a lead they took into the break.

The second half picked up with Rovers enjoying good spells of possession.

Yet it was the Blues who looked most likely to strike again, with Pitman brilliantly dancing along the touchline before squaring the ball into the six-yard box, where the visitors scampered to clear their lines.

There was a sigh of relief from the home side when a brilliantly-timed Nathan Thompson challenge denied Bodin a clear sight on goal – after he slipped past Burgess in the box.

But the scare only kick-started Pompey into life again – and how they rose to the occasion.

After Hawkins had missed a glorious chance to double his tally, Pitman showed him how it was done moments later when he glanced the ball home from an acute angle following Matty Kennedy’s delightful cross.

The captain then put the gloss on a brilliant display by the hosts when he powered his way through the porous Pirates backline to fire past keeper Sam Slocombe from outside the box.

It was a sublime finish from the front man who now boasts eight goals for the season.

And it was the perfect way to round off the night as the Blues returned to winning ways.