Pompey Get The Job Done

Pompey are now six points clear at the top of League One following a 1-0 win over Fleetwood after a drab match at Fratton Park.

The first half passed almost without incident as Kenny Jackett opted for a 4-4-2 formation which meant Gareth Evans dropped to the bench but Dion Donohue deservedly kept his place in the team.

The visitors made their intentions clear from the start as they attempted to slow the game down at every opportunity, so much so that Lewie Coyle was booked for time wasting after just 29 minutes.

Ben Thompson fired a shot over the bar in what was the only notable attempt on goal from either side in the first half as Joey Barton's team did not show the same attacking intent that saw them batter Doncaster and Scunthorpe not so long ago.

Jackett switched his formation to the tried-and-true 4-2-3-1 with Ben Thompson playing behind the lone striker in Oli Hawkins and that saw an immediate improvement in Pompey's performance.

The only goal of the game was as simple as it gets as Donohue whipped in a corner and Tom Naylor headed the ball towards goal and Hawkins nodded the ball home from close range.

There was another chance for Hawkins who should have scored when he headed over Lee Brown's cross after he had risen above his marker.

Brown himself attempted a shot on goal which swerved wide of the post after some neat build up play whilst Fleetwood's only real chance of the game came when Paddy Madden put Ashley Hunter's cross wide at the near post.

There were other half chances for Pompey to put the game to bed but they never looked like conceding and when Nathan Sheron was sent off for second bookable offence despite winning the ball from Ronan Curtis, the result was virtually beyond doubt.

Matt Clarke headed a late chance into the Fratton End but the final whistle blew to confirm Pompey's first win in four home games and an extended lead at the top of the table.

As I was leaving Fratton Park a fan behind me said "That was a load of old shit, wasn't it?" and from an entertainment point of view he would be right but let's apply some context here, shall we?

This looked like being a very tricky match on paper given Fleetwood's record on the road and Pompey's lack of a recent home win, having taken just two points from nine against poor opposition at Fratton Park.

Yet the Cod Army managed just two shots (both off target) all game and Jackett's management of the match was professional, with the midfield dictating play and never giving Fleetwood a sniff despite Barton claiming the referee cost them the game.

Not every match is going to be won in style and whilst nobody will ever remember this game, the three points are most welcome in the context of the season as it puts some distance between Pompey and the chasing pack. Who wouldn't have accepted that situation after 14 games? It took the Blues 22 games to surpass that tally last season.

Hawkins deserves to be cut some slack, too. Whilst he isn't the greatest goalscorer and can appear to be cumbersome, he does an effective job of holding the ball up, wins more than his fair share of aerial duels and has been involved in many of Pompey's goals so far this season. France employed Olivier Giroud to do the same thing despite him not scoring during the World Cup and they didn't do too badly, did they?

Pompey's next opponents are Burton who come to Fratton Park on Tuesday night and they'll be looking to take advantage of any set-pieces they may win so that game might also be a difficult watch.

However, if the night ends with another three points in the bag then who (apart from the usual suspects who love to see the team they support fail) could possibly complain?

Pompey Player Ratings

Craig MacGillivray: 6 - May as well have not bothered turning up.

Nathan Thompson: 7 - Got forward well and dealt with Hunter.

Matt Clarke: 7 - An easy afternoon.

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Won almost everything.

Lee Brown: 7 - Solid as usual.

Jamal Lowe: 6 - Not at his best but still caused problems in the second half.

Ben Thompson: 8 - Influential at both ends of the pitch. A real gem of a midfielder.

Tom Naylor: 7 - Continues to do his job effectively.

Dion Donohue: 7 - Whipped in some dangerous crosses.

Ronan Curtis: 6 - Worked hard but wasn't as involved as usual.

Oli Hawkins: 7 - Scored the crucial goal and won everything in the air.

Substitutes

Luke McGee

Anton Walkes

Christian Burgess

Ben Close

Gareth Evans (Curtis 90): N/A - Time wasting change.

Joe Mason

Brett Pitman