Portsmouth move into FA Cup fourth round with win at Fleetwood

Pompey marched into the fourth round of the FA Cup with a 2-1 victory at Fleetwood.

Saturday, 4th January 2020, 6:25 pm
Updated Saturday, 4th January 2020, 7:15 pm

James Bolton’s maiden goal for the club and John Marquis’ effort within six second-half minutes ensured the Blues would be in the hat for Monday’s draw.

Conor McAleny netted a late consolation for Joey Barton’s men but the visitors held on for the victory.

And it meant Kenny Jackett’s men bounced back to winning ways against their League One promotion rivals having failed to triumph in their past two games.

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Goal celebration by John Marquis of Portsmouth, 0-2, during the The FA Cup match between Fleetwood Town and Portsmouth at the Highbury Stadium, Fleetwood, England on 4 January 2020. Picture: Paul Thompson

Steve Seddon was handed his debut after arriving from Birmingham on loan for the rest of the season on Thursday, replacing Ben Close.

He was one of three changes made from the 1-1 draw at Gillingham on New Year's Day, with John Marquis and Andy Cannon coming in for Ellis Harrison and Gareth Evans.

The visitors went close to breaking the deadlock in just the third minute when Marcus Harness stood up a cross for James Bolton at the back post, but he steered narrowly wide.

On 17 minutes, Cannon perhaps could have done better when he crashed a half-volley over after Fleetwood only partially cleared.

Then on the half-hour mark, Harness did well to take Naylor’s drilled pass in his stride but his shot was comfortably dealt with by home stopper Alex Cairns.

The Cod Army mustered their first real opportunity on goal moments later when Paddy Madden was slipped through on goal, although his effort was down the throat of Pompey keeper Alex Bass.

The game continued to ebb and flow, with Jackett’s men looking dangerous on the break. Ronan Curtis linked well with Marquis in the 35th minute but his snap-shot was thwarted by Harry Souttar’s sliding challenge.

Harness was a constant menace and his slaloming run inside the box almost yielded the breakthrough.

Four minute before half-time Sean Raggett was caught out by a ball over the top which allowed Ched Evans an opportunity, but Bass was well placed to gather the cross-cum-shot.

Fleetwood upped the tempo in the second half, with Madden having an earlier sighter that flew over the bar.

Then the hosts' 17-goal top scorer went agonisingly close in the 58th minute but Bolton made an excellent clearance.

Then the right-back would turn from the guard of Pompey’s net to breaking the deadlock in the 66th minute. Curtis’ corner from the left caused all sorts of problems and after a touch inside the area, Bolton was at the back stick to convert.

Fleetwood almost responded immediately, though, when Burns teed-up Madden, yet he sent his shot into orbit.

And Pompey were to punish the miss by doubling their lead in almost a carbon copy of their first goal on 72 minutes. This time Christian Burgess headed Seddon’s corner back across goal and Marquis bundled home from close range.

Just like earlier, Madden was given another gilt-edged chance to reduce the arrears after the restart when Burns pulled a ball back for Madden, but he skied another effort.

Seddon's debut was to come to an end when he was substituted in the 81st minute, handing Ben Close his 150th appearance for the club.

McAleny set up a nervy finish in stoppage-time when his deflected effort beat the helpless Bass.

But Pompey held on to ensure they made it into the fourth round of the Cup for successive seasons.

Pompey: Bass, Bolton, Burgess, Raggett, Seddon (Close 81), Naylor, Walkes, Harness, Cannon, Curtis, Marquis.

Subs not used: MacGillivray, Downing, G Evans, Pitman, Hawkins, Harrison.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham (McAleny 83), Souttar, Andrew, Dempsey, Coutts (Sowerby 72), Burns, Morris, Madden (Saunders 81), C Evans.

Subs not used: GIlks, McAleny, Biggins, Hill, Garner.