Portsmouth 5 Bradford City 1

Rampant Pompey picked up their first League One victory in more than two months after dispatching Bradford 5-1 at Fratton Park.

Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 5:42 pm
Updated Saturday, 2nd March 2019, 6:45 pm
Gareth Evans, left, and Ronan Curtis celebrate after Pompey break the deadlock against Bradford. Picture: Joe Pepler

Kenny Jackett’s men ran riot against the relegation-threatened Bantams and fully deserved their first win in the division in nine matches.

Ben Close scored the first double of his Fratton Park career, while there were also goals from Gareth Evans, Tom Naylor and Jamal Lowe.

Pompey came agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock in the sixth minute. Evans stood a cross up for Oli Hawkins at the back post, but the striker headed against the post.

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Gareth Evans, left, and Ronan Curtis celebrate after Pompey break the deadlock against Bradford. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Blues continued to have the better of the play and were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 22nd minute.

Pushing and shoving inside the area from a home corner resulted in referee Oliver Langford pointing to the penalty spot for a foul on Oli Hawkins. 

Evans stepped up and emphatically steered his effort into the top corner.

Jackett’s side continued to have the better of the goalscoring opportunities, with the lively Hawkins heading a couple of chances wide when under pressure.

And the hosts doubled their advantage four minutes before half-time.

Evans’ corner picked out Ronan Curtis at the back post, whose deflected first-time shot came off the underside of the crossbar. 

Naylor was first to react and gratefully stabbed home from close range. 

The visitors gave the Blues a scare 20 minutes into the second half when Hope Akpan reduced the deficit. 

Craig MacGillivray couldn’t keep hold of Kelvin Mellor’s header, leaving Akpan with a simple finish.

But Pompey restored their two-goal advantage in just a couple of minutes. 

Brown’s inch-perfect cross found Lowe at the back post and the winger stooped down to guide a diving header beyond Bantams keeper Richard O’Donnell.

And it was Close’s turn to get involved in the scoring act in the 70th minute.

Curtis’ delivery was fired back across goal by Evans, with the ball deflecting off Close and into the net.

The academy graduate put the icing on the cake when notched his second in the 87th minute.

Curtis’ cross was only cleared as far as Close, who coolly found the bottom corner with a left-footed finish.

The victory was marred by four injuries to Jackett’s troops, though. 

Nathan Thompson and Matt Clarke both came off after the pair clashed heads.

Oli Hawkins also limped out, while the home side finished with 10 men as Curtis pulled up in stoppage-time. 

Nevertheless, Pompey delivered a statement that they’re not out of the automatic promotion race with 11 games remaining.