MATCH REPORT: Fleetwood Town 2 Portsmouth 5

Fleetwood Town's unbeaten home run ended to League One leaders Portsmouth but it was a much closer affair than the scoreline suggested at Highbury.

Saturday, 29th December 2018, 5:40 pm
Updated Wednesday, 9th January 2019, 3:30 am
Ched Evans

Fleetwood Town's unbeaten home run ended to League One leaders Portsmouth but it was a much closer affair than the scoreline suggested at Highbury.

Town were 2-1 up before Dean Marney's red card saw the pendulum swing back in the visitors favour.

That 51st minute second yellow card galvanised Kenny Jackett's side with Brett Pitman levelling from the penalty spot.

Anton Walkes made it 3-2 as Portsmouth took advantage of their extra man.

But Fleetwood hit the woodwork twice through Paddy Madden and James Wallace with Jamal Lowe netting twice late on to thwart Town's hopes of a late fight back as a seven game unbeaten run at Highbury came to an end.Fleetwood boss Joey Barton made two changes from the side that beat Doncaster Rovers 3-0 on Boxing Day.

Nathan Sheron and Jason Holt moved to the bench as midfielder Harrison Biggins and winger Wes Burns returned to the starting line-up.

Those changes see Lewie Coyle and Ross Wallace start in the full-back roles with Biggins partnering Dean Marney in the middle of the park.

Burns started on the right wing as Barton opted for a 4-4-2 formation.

Town started brightly and should have been ahead just minutes into the game.

Biggins was straight in the action winning a free-kick in the Pompey half and Ross Wallace's set-piece lead to a golden opportunity for Ched Evans.

Madden flicked Wallace's centre towards the unmarked Evans who nodded straight at MacGillivray.

Portsmouth's Ben Close blasted the ball straight down Cairns' throat and then the Town shot-stopper pulled off another fine instinct save.

Fleetwood failed to clear a corner with the second ball falling to the feet of Matt Clarke but his first-time effort was just tipped over by Cairns.

Town showed flashes of attack but their final ball in the final third was not up to scratch in the opening stages.

Madden did manage to chip the ball up to Burns in the box but he was thwarted by some good defending by Lee Brown.

Burns had knocked the ball past him but the Pompey man just got ahead of the Town paceman and fire the ball out of play.

But he was injured in the process of that move with Portsmouth forced to send Brandon Haunstrup on in the 18th minute.

The visitors took the lead in sublime fashion in the 26th minute.

Ben Thompson found himself free outside the box as Town once again failed to pick up the all important second ball.

But it was a moment of magic from the Pompey man as his strike whirled towards the top corner.

Cairns had no chance of stopping the effort but the woodwork nearly had its say though despite chipping the white paint the ball still dropped over the line in the 26th minute.

But Fleetwood were undeterred by that goal as Paddy Madden levelled six minutes before the break.

Lewie Coyle did the damage on the right wing with his cross eventually falling to Madden who made no mistake to make it 13 for the term and fire home his 10th league goal of the season.

Town were ahead soon after as Madden was impeded by Matt Clarke as he pulled the trigger in the box.

Referee Donohue pointed to the spot and Ched Evans rolled the ball home to complete a fine turn around at the end of the first half.

But Pompey nearly levelled just before the break but Ronan Curtis' cross trickled across the goal line and was just cleared at the back stick by Ross Wallace.

Fleetwood found themselves down to 10-men in the 51st minute.

Dean Marney ruled to have fouled Ben Thompson and sent for an early bath.

League leaders Portsmouth took that dismissal as an invitation to attack but they found themselves level from the spot.

Ross Wallace was harshly ruled to have fouled Jamal Lowe at the back stick and Brett Pitman blasted the spot-kick home.

Barton had changed things up just prior to that equaliser.

Ash Hunter sacrificed with James Wallace sent into the middle.

But Pompey regained their lead moments later as Anton Walkes thundered the ball home from distance in the 58th minute.

Barton threw Dempsey on for Burns to revert to a middle three with Madden rejoining Evans in a front two as Town looked for a leveller.

Fleetwood were thwarted by some strong Portsmouth blocks as both Ash Eastham and James Wallace tried their luck.

Dempsey picked the ball up in the middle of the park with his long range effort taking a deflection and just flying wide of the right stick.

And Town should have been level from the subsequent set-piece as Madden nodded the ball onto the bar and J Wallace diverted the rebound into the woodwork.

Barton had thrown Cian Bolger on to go three at the back and push Ross Wallace and Lewie Coyle up into wide positions.

But Portsmouth put the game to bed in the 81st minute as they increased their lead against the run of play.

Lowe pirouetted in the box and rolled the ball into the corner before smashing home the fifth in the 84th minute as Pompey made it five.

It might look a convincing scoreline on paper but it was far from that.

Fleetwood in the end paying the price for those two missed chances by Madden and James Wallace as their seven game unbeaten run at Highbury ended at the hands of the league leaders.

Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle, Eastham, Morgan, R Wallace, Burns (Dempsey, 63), Marney, Biggins (Bolger, 80), Hunter (J Wallace, 54), Madden, Evans. Subs: P Jones, Holt, McAleny, Sheron.

Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Walkes, Brown (Haunstrup, 18) , Clarke, Naylor, Pitman, Lowe, Curtis (Green, 90), Whatmough, Thompson, Close (Evans, 53). Subs: Bass, Burgess, Mason, Wheeler.