Doncaster 1 Portsmouth 2: Neil Allen's verdict - Plundering ill-gotten gains, Blues of old suggest they've finally returned

Ellis Harrison celebrates his last-gasp winner for Pompey at Doncaster. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPepEllis Harrison celebrates his last-gasp winner for Pompey at Doncaster. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep
Ellis Harrison celebrates his last-gasp winner for Pompey at Doncaster. Picture: Daniel Chesterton/PinPep
The Keepmoat Stadium’s car park one is renamed in his honour, while James Coppinger has also influenced a real ale and an accommodation block at Doncaster’s old Bell Vue home.

At the age of 38, the mercurial midfielder is impervious to time and invincible to the rigours of football, an unconquerable talent which once more shone brightest among those on display on Saturday.

Yet the player labelled ‘Legend’ in such parts of South Yorkshire is not impregnable to a breathtakingly audacious smash and grab.

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Coppinger should have capped a man-of-the-match display with a well-deserved Rovers victory over an often overwhelmed Pompey.

Instead, the Blues plundered a remarkable win, pillaging three points at the death to stun the Doncaster faithful.

Certainly Coppinger didn’t deserve such cruel fate, his classy display wreaking havoc against a Pompey defence damned with unceasing pressure, yet demonstrating admirable resilience.

Even following their leveller eight minutes from time, Darren Moore’s impressive side poured forward seeking further reward.

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It was clear there could only be one winner from this Keepmoat Stadium mismatch – bizarrely it didn’t turn out to the dominant hosts.

A footballing injustice had been delivered, Ellis Harrison’s last-gasp header condemning Doncaster to a 2-1 defeat without a hint of conscience.

To pull off such a looting against a man of Coppinger’s ageless calibre too. Well, it was barefaced brassy.

Nonetheless, it was victory for Kenny Jackett’s side, undeniably implausible considering the context a match.

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Moore’s men struck the bar twice, were thwarted by Craig MacGillivrary on some occasions and wasteful on others, while attacked with a zest and fluency to be applauded.

Yet Pompey headed home with successive League One triumphs to climb to 16th.

In fairness, for all the visitors’ shortcomings during the encounter, defensively they were magnificent, led by the imperious Christian Burgess for one of his stand-out Blues displays.

The fact they also managed to twice wriggle free of Doncaster’s chokehold to net through firstly Gareth Evans and then Harrison suggests a strength of character perhaps usually overlooked.

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It was gutsy, doughty and defiant, reminiscent of the Pompey side which managed to grind out so many positive outcomes on occasions last term, a season in which they amassed 88 points.

Yes, the scoreline was outrageously harsh on Doncaster, but Jackett’s troops dug in and snatched a victory to uplift sagging spirits.

The manager has his detractors at present, yet Saturday represented a collaborative effort from the Blues deserving plenty of credit amid a genuine sense of good fortune.

Although this Pompey side continues to splutter, there remain a number of positives to take from their Keepmoat Stadium journey, in addition to the win. Hopefully aspects to stand them in good stead moving forward.

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Jackett’s team were excellent defensively, doggedly protecting the penalty area to fend off Doncaster’s frequent forages into the final third.

Largely the hosts were restricted to attempts from long range, which is the area to have delivered those two attempts which rattled the crossbar.

Burgess was a man mountain, majestic in the air, rugged on the ground and hurling himself to block goal attempts. Comfortably man of the match.

Alongside him was Sean Raggett, whose shaky start to his Fratton Park career instantly lost belief in him among many Pompey followers.

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However, he grew impressively into the match against Bolton the previous weekend – and maintained that encouraging progress at Doncaster.

In his finest Blues display yet, the Norwich loanee demonstrated the bravery and heart necessary to escape a testing match such as that with three points.

Raggett has attracted flack, now he deserves praise for a display which may prove a watershed moment in his Fratton Park career.

Another stabilising influence to the defence was the returning Lee Brown, back following eight games sidelined with an Achilles injury.

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Brandon Haunstrup had caught the eye in the left-back's absence, certainly some fans were unhappy at the removal of the Waterlooville youngster to make way at the Keepmoat Stadium.

Still, vice-captain Brown possessed the experience and character required to help withstand challenges which the hosts provided.

That represented one of three changes to the team which last weekend defeated Bolton.

Ryan Williams made way for Marcus Harness on the right wing, while Ronan Curtis’ hamstring scare forced him out to the squad, to be replaced by Evans.

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The Irishman's place was already under pressure following disappointing early-season displays, despite Jackett’s continued show of faith.

As it was, the hamstring issue sustained in training on Friday culminated in a failed fitness test on the day of the game – and withdrawal from the Republic of Ireland squad.

Regardless, the side Jackett named in a 4-4-2 formation gave everything, defended superbly and pulled together to claim a gritty win.

Following a first half in which Alfie May struck the bar, MacGillivray came off his line to deny Jon Taylor and Kieran Sadlier missed at the far post, the Blues would have been grateful for half-time.

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That also signalled the entrance of Harrison for the ineffective John Marquis, although the match followed the same pattern.

Then, on on the hour mark, with the Blues defending a corner, Harness cleared, Reece James misjudged the bounce of the ball, and Ben Close collected to surge forward from his own half.

He then squared to Evans, who took one touch before finishing left-footed for his 34th goal of a 197-game Pompey career.

It was classic counter-attacking from the visitors and Close was then brilliantly denied when Seny Dieng clawed away his measured shot.

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With Ben Whiteman having next stuck the bar, the equaliser was no surprise on 82 minutes.

May’s angled shot from the right was beaten out by MacGillivray, but James lashed a left-footed finish which even Burgess’ couldn’t manage to keep out  on the line.

Then, one minute into four minutes of stoppage time, James Bolton flighted in a cross from the right which was met with a wonderful header from Harrison from 10-yards out.

His attempt looped over the keeper and into the far top corner for a dramatic match winner – and the Blues’ maiden League One away victory of the campaign.

Pompey’s campaign is beginning to stir from its slumber, although Coppinger and Co have every reason to feel aggrieved.