Portsmouth 4-1 Southend - Blues record biggest league win of the season

Ellis Harrison celebrates scoring against Southend  Picture: Robin Jones
Ellis Harrison celebrates scoring against Southend Picture: Robin Jones
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Pompey secured their biggest league win of the season as they beat Sol Campbell’s Southend 4-1 at Fratton Park.

Keen to kick-start their season against a side sitting second from bottom in the table, they rose to the challenge - despite the best efforts of the visitors.

John Marquis’ injury-time goal at the end of the first half was the only memorable moment in an opening half that lacked quality.

Ellis Harrison doubled that lead five minutes after the restart, before Brandon Goodship provided the Shrimpers hope with a goal back on 69 minutes.

It wasn’t enough though to see the Blues crumble, though, as a second goal from Harrison - this time from the penalty spot on 80 minutes - and a 84th-minute strike from substitute Marcus Harness Pompey secured a fifth League One win of the season and moved Kenny Jackett’s side up to 13th in the table.

In a first half devoid of any real quality, the visitors would have been disappointed to go into the break a goal down.

The Blues may have shaded possession, but it was the Shrimpers who conjured up the better chances.

Isaac Hutchinson’s long-range effort on 17 minutes represented the first shot on target.

However, it was easily dealt with by keeper Alex Bass, who was recalled to the side following an injury to Craig MacGillivray.

And as Pompey struggled for confidence, it was the hosts again who threatened - on this occasion Hutchinson firing wide from the left of Pompey’s penalty area.

The midfielder’s influence on the game was growing, and on 33 minutes he played in Goodship, who forced a fine save from Bass from 12 yards.

At the other end, the recalled Ellis Harrison had a header blocked as the Blues attempted to stamp their authority on the game.

However, attention soon returned to the hosts’ penalty area, with Hutchinson firing straight at Bass on 38 minutes - moments after Ross McCrorie pulled out of a challenge with a suspected hamstring injury.

The Scot was immediately replaced by Brandon Haunstrup - and it was the substitute who set up Marquis for his fourth goal of the season.

Playing at right-back, he cut inside and curled the ball into the Southend penalty box with his left foot from deep.

The pass was anticipated by Marquis, who then stuck out his toe to send the ball past the helpless Nathan Bishop in the visitors’ goal.

The opener came almost on the half-time whistle, and there was some relief all round as the Blues went into the break a goal to the good up.

Harrison had a golden opportunity to double Pompey’s lead within two minutes of the restart, but somehow he headed Ronan Curtis’ cross over the bar from 12 yards out and with no Southend defender near him.

The former Ipswich man made up for the glaring miss five minutes later, though.

Running at the Southend defence from the left, he eventually received the ball back via touches from Curtis and Marquis before firing home from the tightest of angles.

The visitors’ record of 16 defeats from 20 games played prior to their Fratton Park visit was starting to show as they dropped further back under pressure.

Tom Naylor nearly added to their woes when his effort from 25 yards smacked against the post before rebounding to safety via the boot of Bishop.

Marquis then had a long-range effort spilled by the visiting keeper, before Williams saw a close range effort go wide following a Blues corner.

However, Southend weren’t completely dead and buried, with substitute Emile Acquah producing a tame header when he had time and space to get a goal back on 65 minutes.

That spurred them on, and three minutes later the Shrimpers had halved the deficit when Goodship fired home from outside the box, with Bass unable to cope with the power of the shot.

Southend were now on the front foot - but they were dealt a telling blow on 80 minutes when Sean Raggett was brought down in the penalty area by Timothee Dieng.

The referee immediately pointed to the spot - and Harrison made no mistake from 12 yards as he fired home his second goal of the game.

The Blues had the breathing space they desperately wanted heading into the dying minutes of the game.

And if there was any lingering doubts about late levellers from the opposition - they were put to bed when substitute Harness fired home on 84 minutes with a cool finish to put gloss on a much-needed win.