Rochdale 1-3 Portsmouth

Brett Pitman celebrates his goal in Pompey's impressive win at Rochdale Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman celebrates his goal in Pompey's impressive win at Rochdale Picture: Joe Pepler
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Brett Pitman fired Pompey back to the top of League One with the decisive goal on his 50th appearance at Rochdale.

The Blues skipper struck with 19 minutes left to make it four goals in as many appearances, as his side went on to pick up a 3-1 win at Spotland.

Jamal Lowe cancelled out Aaron Wilbraham’s excellent opener, before Pitman struck in clinical fashion after the break.

Matt Clarke got the third with nine minutes remaining with a quality piece off attacking play, as he beat his man and rifled in an impressive finish.

The result may not have told the story of the game as the home side offered plenty of threat, but Pompey were once again full of resolve and delivered danger on the front foot.

The hosts took the lead in spectacular fashion in the fourth minute through Wilbraham.

The attacker’s half-volley from nearly 30 yards left Craig MacGillivray with no chance as it sailed over his head and dipped into the far corner of his net.

Pompey’s reply came through Nathan Thompson in the eighth minute as his shot from the edge of the box cannoned off the bar.

The leveller arrived in the 25th minute when Ronan Curtis crossed from the left and Brett Pitman teed up Lowe to provide the finish.

From there, the Blues grew in stature, with Pitman freeing Lowe five minutes later, but the goalscorer’s touch was heavy and Dale cleared. 

Keeper Josh Lillis did well to smother Curtis’ shot three minutes before the break, but it was the home side who started the stronger after the restart.

It was the travelling fans who were celebrating with 19 minutes left, though, as Pitman clinically turned in Lee Brown’s cross from the left.

And they were on their feet again with nine minutes left when Clarke brought the ball down from a corner, nutmegged Wilbraham and smashed in an angled finish.

That made it a finale to enjoy for the 966 hardy fans who made the trip on an away day to savour.