Superb Pompey Destroy Dale
Portsmouth 3 Rochdale 0
Pompey followed up their worst performance of the season with their best after a comfortable 3-0 win against in-form Rochdale
Guy Whittingham rang the changes as Trevor Carson, Joe Devera, Therry Racon, Ricky Holmes and John Marquis all came in whilst John Sullivan and David Connolly weren't in the squad, the latter supposedly because of rumours of his bad dressing room influence.
Those changes worked as this Portsmouth side looked like a completely different team to the one that was soundly beaten at Bootham Crescent last week. There was more desire, more will to win and more quality as Pompey started the game on the offensive.
Marquis really should have opened the scoring when he received Patrick Agyemang's flick on inside the box but fired wide when he should at least have hit the target. It seems like he's not left footed!
But Pompey did take the lead soon after as a poor clearance from a Dale defender saw the ball roll to Jed Wallace who accepted the gift by rifling the ball past Josh Lillis to score his second goal in as many games.
The Pompey players were quick to close down any Rochdale player that looked like going forward and as a result the visitors barely had a sniff at goal in the first half, with Carson having to tip over a cross-cum-shot late on but the home side were well on top.
Whittingham's men continued to pile on the pressure in the second half with Maqruis and Wallace close to scoring again before the second goal arrived from the most unlikely source.
Ricky Holmes floated in a corner and Bondz N'Gala beat his man to head the ball in much to the delight of the Pompey fans who had finally seen a goal at the Fratton End, directly from a corner no less!
Marquis then missed another glorious opportunity to get on the scoresheet as Wallace produced a brilliant pass for him at the far post but he couldn't connect properly and placed the ball wide.
Thankfully those missed chances would not go punished and the game was made safe with virtually a carbon copy of the second goal with N'Gala heading home another Holmes corner.
If memory serves correctly, that is the first time that Pompey have scored twice directly from corners since Sol Campbell and Noe Pamarot scored in a 3-1 win at home to Sheffield United in the 06/07 season.
On another day, John Marquis would have had a hat-trick as he squandered another brilliant chance. Substitute Romain Padovani played him through on goal but he could not take the ball round Lillis for what would have been an easy goal.
If there were to be any complaints to come from this performance they would be that Pompey dropped their performance level late on and allowed Rochdale a few good opportunities to score.
Peter Vincenti had a free header but directed it straight at Carson, Cummins had a shot that hit the post and then in the dying seconds Vincenti was denied by a magnificent double save by Carson who clawed the ball off the line to preserve his clean sheet.
So, who saw that performance and result coming? It's funny what a little bit of effort can do, isn't it?
The midfield looked much better with Racon in the centre. He closed down the Rochdale players at every opportunity and won most of his challenges. It was great to see Agyemang back to his menacing self too, the Dale defenders didn't know how to handle him.
The defence should be praised too despite lapsing late on. Devera looked solid at right back and the centre backs won most of the balls in the air.
Critics will say that for a team that had won their last four games, Rochdale were poor and they would be telling the truth as the score could easily have been 5-0 or 6-0 by the end if Marquis had his shooting boots on.
But this was a huge win for Portsmouth and Guy Whittingham in particular. He had come in for a lot of criticism last week and yet there's hardly any praise for him this week despite getting his team selection spot on and motivating his players to respond to the dreadful performance at York.
It's now imperative that this result is built on with another result at Oxford on Tuesday and then at Plymouth on Saturday.
Pompey Player Ratings
Trevor Carson: 7 - Superb late saves to keep clean sheet.
Joe Devera: 6 - Solid return to the team.
Sonny Bradley: 6 - A return to form.
Bondz N'Gala: 9 - Excelled at both ends of the pitch.
Marcos Painter: 6 - Did his job well.
Jed Wallace: 8 - Scored one and might have made more.
Therry Racon: 7 - Tireless performance.
Johnny Ertl: 6 - Made to look better alongside Racon.
Ricky Holmes: 8 - Two decent corners and always looked a threat.
Patrick Agyemang: 7 - Involved in everything Pompey did well.
John Marquis: 6 - Worked hard but could have had a hat-trick.
Romain Padovani (Racon 69): 6 - Slotted in easily.
Andy Barcham (Agyemang 69): 6 - Threatened occasionally.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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