Inspired double change reaps dividends as Portsmouth return to winning ways with Storm Dennis success
Two second-half goals got Pompey back to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Shrewsbury in the wind and rain at Fratton Park.
Kenny Jackett delivered an inspired substitution as he sent on Ross McCrorie, who supplied the cross for Ellis Harrison’s opener, and John Marquis, who put the game to bed with eight minutes left.
Storm Dennis played its part as the players battled the conditions in what was an attritional affair.
But Pompey grabbed their fifth clean sheet in six league games to maintain their sixth-placed spot in League one – to reduce the gap to four points on leaders Rotherham.
Pompey made three changes from the side who gave up their record-breaking winning run at Coventry on Tuesday.
That meant John Marquis, Ryan Williams and Ben Close stepped down for Ellis Harrison, Marcus Harness and Gareth Evans, who was making his first league appearances since New Year’s Day.
It looked like the conditions were going to play their part as the wind and rain swirled around Fratton Park.
And the first half soon became dogged affair after Harness fired at Max O’Leary with Cameron McGeehan in space after five minutes.
There was little in the way of clear chances and the sell-out crowd had to wait until the 30th minute for the game to spring to life, as Harrison fired over under pressure from Harness’ ball in.
The winger then immediately broke forward and saw his shot deflected, when a pass to Harrison in space would perhaps have been the better option.
The only chance of note for the visitors arrived 11 minutes before the break, when Conor McAleny hit a left-footed effort from the edge of the box which Alex Bass did well to palm away.
The visitors upped their threat after the restart as Sean Goss fizzed a 48th-minute free-kick just wide from 25 yards with Bass rooted to the spot.
A dangerous cross from Southampton loanee Kayne Ramsay was then pushed away by Bass before the keeper made a fine reflex stop to keep out McAleny’s drive.
Ethan Ebanks-Landell then fired over the top before Ross McCrorie and John Marquis were introduced for James Bolton and Evans.
It proved an inspired substitution from Jackett as Pompey opened the scoring in the 64th minute when McCrorie swung in a delightful cross for Harrison to head home.
Marquis had a chance to settle it with 14 minutes left when slipped in by Curtis but the striker’s shot was smothered by O’Leary.
But the sub atoned for his miss with eight minutes left as he was freed by Harness and coolly slotted home his side’s second goal.
And it was comfortable from there, as Pompey saw out a hard-fought victory in front of a crowd of 18,214.