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Match Reports

Pompey 1 Forest Green 0

Dale grabs winner to keep play-off hopes alive

1 April 2023

Owen Dale scores for Pompey against Forest Green Rovers at Fratton Park
Photo: Jason Brown/Pro Sports Images
Match Reports

Pompey 1 Forest Green 0

Dale grabs winner to keep play-off hopes alive

1 April 2023

Owen Dale was on target as Pompey saw off a stubborn Forest Green side to close the gap on the League One play-off places.

It was always going to be a difficult afternoon against a side who were happy to sit back and let the Blues have the ball.

But Dale nodded home a Joe Rafferty cross early in the second half to ensure a happy outcome to the start of the 125th anniversary celebrations.

John Mousinho made four changes from the side that were held to a draw by Port Vale the previous week.

A fully-fit Clark Robertson made his first start of 2023 and took the captain’s armband, while Joe Morrell returned from international duty and there were spots for Tom Lowery and Michael Jacobs.

Ryley Towler and Louis Thompson dropped to the bench, with Paddy Lane and Reeco Hackett missing out through injury.

There was also a place among the substitutes for Marlon Pack, who had been sidelined for seven weeks with a knee injury.

The first half followed a familiar pattern, with Pompey dominating possession and being frustrated by their organised opponents.

Jacobs was looking most likely to make something happen and after his tricky footwork left two defenders on the turf, Jamie Robson did well to get in front of his low shot.

It was going to take a bit of magic to get through the Rovers back-line and the Blues certainly kept searching for a gap to exploit.

There was more good work from Jacobs on 30 minutes and his angled shot was pushed wide by Ross Doohan.

The frustration was clear late in the half when Dale got into an altercation with Jordon Garrick, leading to both players receiving a yellow card.

And despite seeing more than 77 per cent of the ball, Pompey could not find a breakthrough before the break.

Half Time: Pompey 0 Forest Green 0

The crowd certainly livened up at the interval, when a host of former Fratton stars were introduced onto the pitch as part of the birthday celebrations.

And the good mood continued within six minutes of the restart, as Pompey got that all-important opener.

It was an excellent cross from Rafferty on the right and DALE managed to climb above Udoka Godwin-Malife to head home.

The lead might have been increased soon after, but Sean Raggett could not guide his header on target after meeting a Jacobs free-kick.

Falling behind did not encourage Forest Green to show more attacking intent and Pompey continued to be in control.

They should have been further ahead after a fine Ryan Tunnicliffe pass found Jacobs inside the box and his effort was parried away by Doohan.

The ball fell for Dale just a few yards out, but he was unable to wrap his foot around the ball and sent it wide.

That was the final piece of action for Tunnicliffe, who then made way for the returning Pack in the centre of the pitch.

Rovers, meanwhile, did not seem in any hurry, with Dylan McGeouch trudging off the pitch to be replaced by Tyrese Omotoye and Godwin-Malife then booked for wasting time.

And there were ironic cheers from a home side when Myles Peart-Harris finally had their first shot, which flew harmlessly wide.

There was a blow for the home side when Robertson went down with cramp on 81 minutes, with Jacobs also brought off for Towler and Dane Scarlett.

With the lead at just one goal there was always a danger of getting caught by a sucker punch, but the Blues saw out the closing stages with relative ease.

Dale missed an excellent opportunity to make sure of the win in stoppage-time after good work from Joe Morrell, but could only fire wide.

It mattered not, though, as Pompey had already done enough to wrap up all three points and keep their promotion hopes alive.

Pompey (4-3-3): Macey; Rafferty, Raggett, Robertson (c) (Towler 81), Ogilvie; Lowery, Tunnicliffe (Pack 71), Morrell; Dale, Bishop, Jacobs (Scarlett 81)
Goals: Dale 51
Booked: Lowery, Dale, Towler
Subs not used: Steward, Bernard, Hume, Thompson

Forest Green (4-4-2): Doohan; Godwin-Malife, Casey, Cooper, Robson; McAllister, McGeouch (c) (Omotoye 72), Bunker, Garrick (Bakayoko 86); Peart-Harris (O’Brien 86), Savage
Booked: Garrick, Godwin-Malife
Subs not used: Thomas, Bernard, Moore-Taylor, Brown

Referee: Paul Howard

Attendance: 17,968 (346 away fans)

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