Football: Portsmouth 3 - 0 Rochdale

Date published: 01 March 2020

Rochdale were put to the sword by a clinical Portsmouth at very wet and windy Fratton Park on Friday 28 February.

In a fairly even first half, the hosts went ahead on the stroke of half-time when winger Ryan Williams reacted quickest inside the six yard box to slam home after Robert Sanchez had blocked Christian Burgess’ downward header. Brian Barry-Murphy’s side went close in the second half through skipper Ian Henderson who crashed a 25 yard effort off the crossbar whilst Matty Lund was frustrated by home keeper, Alex Bass, who tipped his powerful header over the bar. Pompey made it two when substitute Steve Seddon rifled in from the edge of the area after Rochdale failed to clear a free-kick. The game was made safe six minutes from time; Burgess meeting a Williams set piece from the right to head in a third.

Brian Barry-Murphy made four changes from the side that narrowly lost to Coventry last weekend. Eoghan O’Connell and Kwadwo Baah left the field early against the Sky Blues with neither recovering enough to feature whilst Jimmy Ryan was ill at the team hotel overnight so was placed on the bench; MJ Williams starting. Stephen Dooley was dropped to the bench with Aaron Morley preferred. On loan Sheffield United striker Tyler Smith was omitted from the squad completely with manager Brian Barry-Murphy confirming after the game that the 21-year-old was involved in a car crash on Thursday morning.

With storm Jorge battering the South coast, conditions at the stadium were difficult to say the least with strong winds and heavy rain making it difficult for the players but they did their best to make it an entertaining game.

Both sides had half chances early on, Lund dragging a shot wide for Dale whilst Williams’ curling shot from 25 yards didn’t quite curl enough and flew inches wide of the far post with Sanchez beaten.

Rochdale’s best chance of the first half came when a long punt upfield from the keeper found its way through to Henderson who raced in on goal; his chipped effort lacking sufficient height to beat Alex Bass with the Pompey stopper easily gathering the ball.

The only goal of the first half came just as the board showing two minutes added was shown by the fourth official. Rhys Norrington-Davies’ challenge on Ryan Williams was deemed worthy of a yellow card for the Rochdale defender who in stretching to make the challenge strained his hamstring. With the Sheffield United loanee off the pitch receiving treatment, Pompey took full advantage. With Dale down to ten men, the free-kick was partially cleared before the ball was worked out to the left for Lee Brown to cross. Burgess’ header was stopped on the line by Sanchez with Williams snapping up the rebound to net his third of the season.

Portsmouth, buoyed by the late goal almost doubled their advantage deep into stoppage time. Former Rochdale player Andy Cannon drilled a shot at goal that was blocked inside the six-yard box by McNulty.

Rochdale started the second half well and caused problems for Portsmouth who are undefeated at home this season in the league. Ian Henderson decided to have a crack from distance with his powerful shot flying past Bass but cannoning back off the crossbar.

Barry-Murphy’s men were knocking on the door, but a lack of a clinical edge would again lead to defeat. Matt Lund met substitute Jimmy Keohane’s cross, his header tipped over by Bass when either side of the keeper and it would have been difficult to stop.

That inspired the home fans who got behind their team and they extended their lead with 12 minutes remaining. A ball in from the right was only partially cleared and when Seddon was teed up, the Birmingham City loanee hit a first time shot that flew into the bottom corner for his first goal for the club.

Pompey made sure of the points though Burgess’ late header which saw Kenny Jackett’s men climb to third in the division whilst result’s on Saturday saw Dale slip to 20th, still seven points behind Tranmere who have a game in hand.

Rochdale's next game is at home against Rotherham United on Saturday 7 March.


Rochdale: Sanchez, Matheson, McShane, O’Connell, Norrington-Davies (Keohane 45), MJ Williams (Andrew 77), Lund, Morley (Done 65), Camps, Henderson ©, Wilbraham
Substitutes: (not used) Lynch, Dooley, Ryan, Dunne

Portsmouth: Bass, Bolton, Burgess, Raggett, Brown (Seddon 54), Williams, McGeehan, Cannon (Close 54), Curtis, Naylor ©, Marquis (Harrison 83)
Substitutes: (not used) MacGillivray, Pitman, McCrorie, Harness

Referee: Mr N Kinsley
Assistants: Mr A Da Costa & Mr D Benton
Fourth Official: Mr S Jackson

Attendance: 17,600 (141 from Rochdale)

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