Report: Portsmouth 1-0 Bolton Wanderers - The Blues edge close encounter at Fratton Park to secure their second win in 14 games.
John Marquis scored the only goal of the game to alleviate the mounting pressure on Pompey as the Blues edged Bolton Wanderers at Fratton Park.
The 29-year-old’s strike was his first goal since the 4-0 drubbing of Sunderland and the hosts started brightly as they looked to build on the performance at Accrington.
Ronan Curtis found himself at the heart of two half-chances early on – the first came inside five minutes when he collected John Marquis’ neat knockdown, and cheekily sent flicked the ball through an onrushing defender’s legs before seeing his drilled shot blocked.
And perhaps he should have done slightly better with his next attempt as he found himself free at the back post, but couldn’t direct Marcus Harness’ inviting cross towards goal as his header went wide.
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The Republic of Ireland international was again the architect for the hosts midway through the first half when he weaved between two defenders, shifted the ball onto his left foot and stung the palms of Joel Dixon as the ‘keeper held the ball well.
However, the Blues’ promising work during the first half was almost completely undone with 15 minutes of the first half remaining as Dapo Afolayan grew in prominence. The 24-year old regained possession 25-yards away from goal and instinctively fired a fierce effort, that had Gavin Bazunu scrambling, before he tipped the ball onto the crossbar well.
As a result of Afolayan’s effort, Bolton snatched the momentum and would have taken the lead had it not had been for Mahlon Romeo’s expert intervention as the Millwall loanee diverted Nathan Delfouneso’s low cross away from an opportunistic Eoin Doyle, who was waiting to tap home.
On the cusp of half-time both teams looked to be cancelling each other out before the Trotters hit the woodwork for the second time as Declan John slammed the post with a low effort from an acute angle. It would have been rather unfair on Danny Cowley’s side had they entered the break behind.
Five minutes after the re-start however, the Fratton faithful were then on their feet as John Marquis broke the deadlock when he improvised brilliantly to back-heel Curtis’ teasing cross up-and-over Dixon – who could only watch the ball bounce over the line.
The former Doncaster forward then could have doubled his and the club’s tally moments later when he received the ball inside the box and decided against squaring to Reeco Hackett before hitting a tame effort towards Dixon who saved well this time round.
The visitors had the wind taken from their sails but Pompey then survived a late onslaught as Eoin Doyle hit the bar with a header with six minutes remaining, but the defence stood tall to secure the club’s second win in 14 games.
As a result, Cowley’s side have leapfrogged Wanderers into 13th place in the League One table.