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Match Reports

Fleetwood 0 Pompey 1

Brown on target in season opener at Highbury Stadium

7 August 2021

Lee Brown scores for Pompey at Fleetwood
Photo: Paul Thompson

Lee Brown was on target as Pompey got the 2021/22 campaign off to the perfect start with victory at Fleetwood.

They grew into the contest and survived some early pressure from the hosts before Ronan Curtis struck the woodwork.

And the only goal arrived after the interval, when Brown sent a fine effort nestling in the bottom corner of the net.

Danny Cowley handed competitive debuts to four players, with Clark Robertson wearing the captain’s armband.

Ryan Tunnicliffe, Gassan Ahadme and Connor Ogilvie also started, with the latter a late replacement following an injury to Shaun Williams in the warm-up.

Right-back Kieron Freeman – who had a loan spell with Pompey in 2016 – was also named in the team.

Fellow summer signings Gavin Bazunu and George Hirst had to be content with a spot on the bench, where they were joined by academy youngsters Izzy Kaba and Harry Jewitt-White.

It was a welcome sight to see supporters back inside the ground and the travelling fans, who were packed into two stands, made a racket throughout.

But it was the home side that made the quicker start and Alex Bass was quickly down to his left to claim a long-range Ged Garner strike.

And the keeper made an even better save moments later, this time denying Harrison Biggins, who had turned sharply inside the area.

Bass then made a third stop to prevent Callum Morton from converting Max Clark’s centre, with the forward unable to guide the loose ball on target.

But the Blues improved as the first half progressed and started to find some more joy in the final third.

There was a half-chance for Tunnicliffe, while Fleetwood were able to clear when John Marquis sent a dangerous ball into the centre after being played onside.

And the deadlock was almost broken on 28 minutes after Robertson was brought down and Curtis sent a 25-yard free-kick rattling against the crossbar.

The hosts also hit the woodwork soon after, with Shayden Morris bursting into the box from the right and angling a shot against the outside of the post.

A Brown corner caused problems at the other end, with the ball making its way through a sea of bodies before eventually being hacked clear at the far post.

Half Time: Fleetwood 0 Pompey 0

The heavens opened as the second half started, but clear-cut openings were not flowing quite so freely.

Morton sent a dangerous delivery into the visitors’ box, but the ball flew out the other side and was cleared to safety.

Morris then raced away on 56 minutes and tried to fire a shot inside Bass’ near post, only for the keeper to get quickly down to make the save.

But it was Pompey who were almost celebrating an opener moments later after Tunnicliffe’s shot was blocked.

The ball ricocheted into the path of Gassan, but Alex Cairns made a superb stop to deny the debutant from point-blank range.

Fleetwood’s relief was short-lived, however, as the Blues did open the scoring – much to the delight of the travelling army.

Tunnicliffe tried to pick out Curtis in the box and the winger appeared to be dragged to the ground by Brad Halliday.

It mattered not, though, as the ball ran out to BROWN on the left and he took a touch before drilling a shot into the bottom corner.

Cowley made a switch on 68 minutes, with Gassan leaving to warm applause from the away support and Reeco Hackett-Fairchild coming on.

It might have been a dream league debut for the forward, but after cutting onto his left foot, he could only fire over.

There was soon another introduction to the Pompey fans, as Leicester loanee Hirst replaced Marquis up front.

The visitors had collected three bookings for infringements on the pitch, but their fourth was shown to coach Simon Bassey for getting a tad too excited on the sidelines.

A quick counter-attack then almost wrapped things up for the Blues, with a heavy first touch costing Hackett-Fairchild and then Curtis straying narrowly offside.

It mattered not, though, as Cowley’s side saw out the closing stages to ensure the long trip home would be a happy one.

Fleetwood (3-4-3): Cairns; Hill, Clarke, Andrew; Halliday, Biggins (Batty 73), Rossiter (c), Clark (Edmondson 82); Morris, Garner (Pilkington 73), Morton
Subs not used: Crellin, Johnson, Holgate, Camps

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bass; Freeman, Raggett, Robertson (c), Brown; Tunnicliffe, Ogilvie; Harness (Johnson 90+2), Gassan (Hackett-Fairchild 68), Curtis; Marquis (Hirst 74)
Goals: Brown 60
Booked: Brown, Curtis, Freeman
Subs not used: Bazunu, Mnoga, Kaba, Jewitt-White

Referee: Benjamin Speedie

Attendance: 4,562 (1,092 away fans)


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