Fleetwood Town put in an improved performance on Tuesday night against Portsmouth, but fell to a narrow 2-1 defeat.
Goals either side of each half from Jamal Lowe and Oliver Hawkins gave Pompey a 2-0 lead, and despite Conor McAleny’s late stunner – Town suffered a eighth straight loss in all competitions.
Barry Nicholson made three changes to the team after Saturday’s game at Doncaster, with Nathan Pond, Joe Maguire and Harrison Biggins - making his football league debut - replacing Wes Burns, Kevin O’Connor and Touami Diagouraga.
Town started brightly to the game, enjoying large spells of possession with the Cod Army faithful in full voice.
The hosts went close when a short corner found Kyle Dempsey on the edge of the box, but he drilled his shot narrowly wide of Luke McGee’s post.
Fleetwood were knocking on the door again when Ashley Hunter whipped in a dangerous cross from the left, Ashley Eastham rose highest, but his header was straight at McGee.
Pompey’s first chance of the half came through Adam May when he turned on the edge and forced a good save from Alex Cairns down to his right.
But the visitors took the lead against the run of play after 24 minutes, when a blocked shot fell to Lowe and he fired past Cairns to give Pompey the advantage from inside the area.
The next and last chance of the first half went to Portsmouth when Matthew Kennedy whipped a free-kick over the Town wall but Cairns got down smartly to smother the shot.
Pompey went close to doubling their lead at the beginning of the second period when a corner prompted a goalmouth scramble before Town cleared the danger.
The Cod Army responded well and almost got back on level terms when Hunter’s strike went inches wide of the target with McGee beaten.
Oliver Hawkins went close for Portsmouth midway through the second period when his well-struck volley flew just over the Town crossbar.
Town then had a slice of luck when May’s 30-yard strike cannoned off the inside of the post - a let off and a slice of luck.
The visitors did however double their lead with 15 minutes left, when Lowe’s shot produced a fine save from Cairns, but Hawkins was there to turn in the rebound.
But Fleetwood pulled a goal back with nine minutes left when McAleny produced a moment of magic – working the ball out of his feet and curling a 25-yard shot into the top right corner.
Town fought hard to force an equaliser, but a stubborn Pompey defence prevailed, leaving Highbury with all three points.
Fleetwood: Cairns, Coyle (Burns 61’), Eastham, Pond ©, Dempsey, Grant, Bolger, Maguire, Madden, Hunter (Sowerby 82’), Biggins (McAleny 69’)
Subs not used: Neal (GK), Oliver, Jones, Schwabl,
Portsmouth: McGee, Walkes, Clarke ©, Burgess, Hawkins, Kennedy, Donohue, Lowe, Chaplin (Rowan 82'), May, Close
Subs not used: Bass (GK), Whatmough, Deslandes, Smith, Widdrington, Haunstrup.
Attendance: 2,561 (470 visitors)
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