Main bags brace as Blues ease to victory
Pompey eased to a third successive league win, courtesy of three first half goals against a hapless Crawley side at Fratton Park.
The damage was done inside the first 12 minutes, with Curtis Main breaking the deadlock before Gary Roberts continued his prolific scoring spell.
It was Main who added a third goal before the break, allowing the Blues to comfortably see out the second half and claim their three points.
Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that won at Exeter in the last league outing.
Drew Talbot was suffering from a hamstring injury and with Adam Buxton and Calvin Davies also sidelined, Gareth Evans had to deputise at right-back.
Before kick-off there was a minute’s applause for Pompey Ladies president Dave Coyle, who sadly passed away recently.
The hosts immediately launched into an energetic attacking display, looking to get forward at every opportunity and play with a high tempo.
Roberts tried to take advantage of some uncertain defending by chasing down a poor back-pass in the opening seconds, but Crawley keeper Yusuf Mersin just about beat him to the ball.
The Red Devils then had their best chance of the half, only for James Collins to hit his shot into the ground and watch it fly wide.
Most of the action was taking place at the other end of the pitch, however, and Michael Doyle was not quite able to dig the ball from out of his feet and test Mersin.
But the deadlock was broken on eight minutes, as MAIN opened his Fratton Park account.
Enda Stevens latched onto a pass down the left and then cut the ball back for the striker to lash into the roof of the net.
That certainly got the home fans off their seats and they were in dreamland moments later when the Blues doubled their advantage.
And it was no surprise who scored it either, with Danny Rose stealing possession from Alex Davey and ROBERTS picking up the loose ball to rifle home his fourth goal in three games.
Pompey refused to sit back and protect their lead, though, as they set about trying to find a third.
Mark Connolly was clever enough to spot Roberts’ cute pass through to Main and make a vital interception.
Roberts tried to pick out the striker again soon after, only this time Davey rose highest to clear the danger.
MAIN did add a third goal before the interval, however, being in the right place to convert from close range after Mersin could only parry away a deflected effort from Milan Lalkovic.
There was still time for Crawley to launch a rare attack, but, under pressure from Christian Burgess, Jason Banton could only fire wide.
Half Time: Pompey 3 Crawley 0
It was a more sedate pace at the start of the second half, although Carl Baker wasted a good opening by dragging his shot wide.
Main then had a chance to seal his hat-trick, but spun and fired wide after Roberts’ neat flick had released Evans down the right.
Cook made his first switch just past the hour mark, with Main receiving warm applause as he made way for Conor Chaplin.
Crawley had a chance at the other end when Tom Davies was booked for a foul on Banton, with Burgess sticking out a leg to clear Jimmy Smith’s free-kick.
There was a definite sense of the game winding down as the heavens opened and heavy rain began to fall.
That might have contributed to a spot of sloppy defending from the hosts, who survived through some last-gasp defending before Smith’s shot was saved by David Forde.
Roberts was then given a deserved rest and replaced by Kal Naismith for his first home appearance of the season.
The final switch saw Michael Smith come on for the lively Lalkovic and he almost netted in stoppage-time following a quick break, but hit his shot agonisingly past the post.
It mattered little, however, as Pompey had, in truth, wrapped the game up by half-time to seal yet another league triumph.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Evans, T.Davies, Burgess, Stevens; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts (Naismith 72), Lalkovic (Smith 82); Main (Chaplin 65)
Goals: Main 9, 37, Roberts 12
Booked: Main, T.Davies
Subs not used: O’Brien, Clarke, Linganzi, Hunt
Crawley (4-2-3-1): Mersin; Young, Connolly, Davey, Blackman (Arthur 52); Smith (c), Yorwerth (Payne 52); Boldewijn, Banton, Yussuf (Bawling 68); Collins
Subs not used: Beeney, McNerney, Clifford, Tajbakhsh
Referee: Ben Toner
Attendance: 16,347 (435 away fans)