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Bristol Rovers 2 Pompey 0

21 December 2013

Blues' winless run continues at Memorial Stadium

Pompey failed to provide any Christmas cheer with a 2-0 defeat against fellow strugglers Bristol Rovers.

A goal in each half from Ollie Clarke and David Clarkson consigned the Blues to a ninth successive match without a win.

Ryan Bird did have a shot saved before the break, but the visitors failed to create much else going forward.

Richie Barker made six changes to the side beaten at home to Newport the previous week.

Marcos Painter and Bondz N’Gala came into the defence, while there were starts for Jed Wallace, Simon Ferry and skipper Johnny Ertl in midfield.

There was also a place for Bird alongside Patrick Agyemang in the Pompey attack.

Yassin Moutaouakil, Joe Devera, Thery Racon, Ricky Holmes and David Connolly all dropped to the bench, while Dan Potts was not involved in the squad.

Pompey enjoyed much of the early possession and won a series of corners without being able to test Rovers keeper Steve Mildenhall.

The hosts then had the game’s first chance on seven minutes, although Eliot Richard’s tame effort was easy for Trevor Carson.

At the other end, Wallace’s low ball into the box was diverted towards his own goal by Lee Brown, but Mildenhall recovered well to spare his defender’s blushes.

The game was drifting somewhat, however, until Clarkson woke everyone up with a stinging drive from distance that smacked against the crossbar on 17 minutes.

Then Wallace sent a dangerous low cross into the area from wide on the right that Mildenhall failed to hold, but there was no burgundy-shirted player advanced enough to take advantage.

And Pompey created another decent opening on 26 minutes when Agyemang’s pass was helped on by Ferry for Bird, with the striker’s prodded shot kept out by Mildenhall’s legs.

But there were few other chances to liven up the crowd on a bracing afternoon in Bristol.

The hosts only needed one to go in ahead at the break, though, with Clarke’s sweetly-struck low volley flying under Carson and into the net late in the half.

Half Time: Bristol Rovers 1 Pompey 0

The match struggled to get going after the restart, but it was Rovers were first to threaten on 53 minutes.

Referee Steve Rushton awarded a free-kick after N’Gala had fouled Matt Harrold and Clarkson’s goalbound effort was superbly pushed over by Carson.

The keeper was called into action again moments later, this time denying Richards after Ertl had lost possession.

John-Joe O’Toole then sent a header looping into Carson’s arms after being left in space to meet Brown’s cross.

With Pompey struggling to make any inroads, Barker made a double substitution on 65 minutes.

Connolly and Holmes added some fresh attacking impetus, with Bird and Barcham making way.

Holmes immediately made an impression with a dangerous ball into the box, but Agyemang’s header was comfortable for Mildenhall.

Some fans thought the hosts had strengthened their advantage on 71 minutes, but Rushton had long since blown for a push on Shaun Cooper.

Pompey were still left cursing their misfortune, however, as the challenge forced Cooper off, with Moutaouakil replacing him at right-back.

And things soon got worse for the visitors as Clarkson was left all alone to receive the ball on the left and curl an impressive effort into the bottom corner.

A farcical free-kick – with Painter failing to satisfy the officials over where the ball should be placed – only served to sum up a miserable afternoon for the Blues.

Bristol Rovers (4-2-3-1): Mildenhall; Smith, Parkes (c), McChrystal, Brown; Clarke, Norburn; Clarkson, O’Toole, Norburn; Harrold
Goals: Clarke 40, Clarkson 76
Subs not used: Gough, Keary, Southway, Santos, Harrison, Harding, Beardsley

Pompey (4-4-2): Carson; Cooper (Moutaouakil 73), N’Gala, Bradley, Painter; Wallace, Ertl (c), Ferry, Barcham (Holmes 65); Agyemang, Bird (Connolly 65)
Booked: N’Gala
Subs not used: Sullivan, Devera, Padovani, Racon

Referee: Steve Rushton

Attendance: 7,537 (1,355 Pompey fans)

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