Wasteful Portsmouth fall to Boxing Day defeat at Gillingham

Ten-man Pompey endured a Boxing Day to forget as they fell to a first away loss at Gillingham.

Wednesday, 26th December 2018, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:54 am
Oli Hawkins header over for Pompey today. Picture: Joe Pepler

The Gills completed the double over Kenny Jackett's men with a 2-0 win as they failed to turn up the pressure on their promotion rivals ahead of this afternoon's League One programme.

Pompey will wonder how they didn't make more of the stack of chances they created as they dominated for long periods against the hosts, before falling to a third league loss of the campaign.

A goal at the end of each half did the damage as Josh Parker impressively headed in Elliott List's cross before Callum Reilly bagged a late spot-kick.

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The visitors played the final 15 minutes with 10 men as Nathan Thompson hobbled off with all three subs used.

Failing to score from 20 shots on goal proved the afternoon's revealing statistic.

It means the door's opened for Sunderland again after their defeat at Fratton Park, with Luton right in the promotion race, too.

Pompey were the dominant force in the first half, commanding possession and territory.

Gareth Evans' eighth-minute first-time effort came during a bright start but Alex Lacey blocked a shot which was on its way without knowing much about it.

Eight minutes later it was Oli Hawkins who was a whisker away from making the breakthrough as he hooked a shot at goal while being pulled, but it trickled past the post with Jamal Lowe unable to turn it in.

Pompey were asking all the questions but the home side were being dogged in their defending, although offering little threat.

Lowe's cross was met by Curtis four minutes before the interval, but Tomas Holy got down to make the save with the aid of the post.

But the Blues were hit by a sucker punch at the end of the half as Parker powerfully headed home.

The pattern of the game continued after the restart with Pompey pressing.

Both Hawkins and Lowe were somehow unable to turn in Ben Thompson's peach of a cross in the 48th minute.

But Dean Parrett threatened a second for the Gills two minutes later when the bodies missed his free-kick but it nearly crept in at the far post, until Craig Macgillivray turned the ball away for a corner.

Then Evans fired a first-time shot over from 12 yards after Lee Brown cut back from the byline.

Hawkins was a whisker away from the leveller after 56 minutes, heading just past the upright from Curtis' cross from the left.

Both David Wheeler and Andre Green were introduced in place of Curtis and Lowe with 22 minutes left, that change coming after Brett Pitman had replaced Hawkins.

Another big chance went begging in the 72nd minute as Brown crossed from the byline again but Pitman's flick got little direction on the ball when well placed.

The afternoon got worse  for Pompey with 15 minutes as Nathan Thompson pulled up with a hamstring injury and couldn't continue. With all three subs left it meant the Blues played on with 10 men.

Then came the late penalty for Steve Lovell's side as Jack Whatmough pulled down List and Reilly sent MacGillivray the wrong way from the spot.