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Match Reports

Bristol Rovers 2 Pompey 1

Lane goal not enough to maintain unbeaten away record

26 December 2023

Colby Bishop in action for Pompey at Bristol Rovers
Photo: Jason Brown/Pro Sports Images
Match Reports

Bristol Rovers 2 Pompey 1

Lane goal not enough to maintain unbeaten away record

26 December 2023

Pompey saw their unbeaten away record in League One come to an end after Bristol Rovers netted a stoppage-time winner.

Paddy Lane looked to have secured a Boxing Day point after coming off the bench to cancel out an Antony Evans free-kick at the Memorial Stadium.

But with the Blues pushing forward in search of a second goal, Rovers broke away and Luke Thomas fired home.

John Mousinho made one change from the side that were held to a draw by Fleetwood before Christmas.

Gavin Whyte was handed a first league start for more than three months, with Lane dropping to the bench.

Both sides took a while to emerge from their post-Christmas slumber and the first half was a largely lifeless affair.

The visitors enjoyed plenty of possession, but their attacks too often petered out once the ball reached the final third.

Will Norris did make a fine early save to deny former Fratton striker John Marquis, although that was quickly rendered meaningless by a raised offside flag.

Colby Bishop met a Joe Rafferty delivery at the other end of the pitch and drew a regulation save from Matt Cox.

Pompey did start to take control of proceedings as the half progressed, but a Jack Sparkes free-kick that flew into Cox’s arms was as much as they had to show for their efforts.

Their opponents were looking most dangerous on the break and anything that was sent into the Blues box was defended, usually by the impressive Conor Shaughnessy.

It looked as though the interval would arrive without any further incident, especially with no stoppage-time being displayed.

But Pompey almost broke the deadlock just before the whistle blew, with Cox doing well to prevent Bishop converting a fine low Rafferty centre.

Half Time: Bristol Rovers 0 Pompey 0

The game did not exactly burst into life straight after the restart, although a Whyte header looped into the arms of Cox.

Mousinho tried to liven things up with a change on 52 minutes, as the unusually quiet Alex Robertson made way for Christian Saydee.

His side almost fell behind soon after, though, when Bishop tried to head clear an Evans free-kick that was heading out of play.

The ball flew straight to Tristan Crama, who hit a fierce strike from inside the box that left the crossbar rattling.

A quick Pompey break then led to a corner that Marlon Pack dropped invitingly into the area and the hosts were forced to hack clear.

But it was Rovers who broke the deadlock after Joe Morrell had brought down the rampaging Aaron Collins on the edge of the box.

Evans stepped up to take the free-kick and bent home a fine effort that left Norris rooted to the spot.

Mousinho responded with an attacking double switch on 72 minutes, as Sparkes and Whyte made way for Lane and Kusini Yengi.

Lane was soon in the thick of it and could not turn home Kamara’s cross at the far post, while Bishop appeared to be tugged back in the box.

But the substitute did draw Pompey level moments later, with LANE racing onto a fine Pack pass and calmly stroking home with his left foot.

The visitors might have taken the lead shortly after, with nobody able to force the ball over the line when Pack’s free-kick led to an almighty scramble.

Then, following good work on the right involving Rafferty and Kamara, Pack laid a pass off for Saydee to fire inches past the post.

But despite looking to push forward as much as possible in the closing stages, the Blues were undone at the death.

Rovers broke forward and Harvey Vale squared the ball for Thomas to slam into the net and break Pompey hearts.

Bristol Rovers (4-1-4-1): Cox; Wilson, Taylor, Crama (Hunt 87), Vale; Finley (c); Thomas, Evans, Ward, Collins; Marquis (Martin 72)
Goals: Evans 66, Thomas 90+4
Booked: Evans, Finley, Cox, Martin
Subs not used: Ward, Hoole, Bogarde, Woods, Brown

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Norris; Rafferty, Raggett, Shaughnessy, Sparkes (Lane 72); Pack (c), Morrell; Kamara, Robertson (Saydee 52), Whyte (Yengi 72); Bishop
Goals: Lane 76
Booked: Robertson, Sparkes, Morrell, Raggett, Lane, Kamara
Subs not used: Schofield, Towler, Devlin, Scully

Referee: Scott Tallis

Attendance: 9,176 (755 Pompey fans)

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