Fleetwood 3-1 Portsmouth
Fleetwood Town completed a league double over Portsmouth and stretched their unbeaten run to five matches with victory at Highbury.
Jon Parkin rifled home to give the Cod Army the lead after 16 minutes before Antoni Sarcevic’s penalty sent them in two goals ahead at half-time.
Jamille Matt then pinched a third after the break, and despite Pompey pulling one back through substitute Jed Wallace’s stunning solo effort, Town held on to keep the pressure on the teams at the top of League Two.
Going into the match, manager Graham Alexander made one change to the side which drew 2-2 at Bury on Tuesday, with Stewart Murdoch replacing Alan Goodall in midfield.
And it was Town, looking to close the gap at the top of the table, who created all of the early chances as Sarcevic struck high and wide on the half volley from outside the box after four minutes.
Steven Schumacher then flicked wide Charlie Taylor’s cross into the box, with the ball falling behind him.
However, just as Richie Barker’s Pompey appeared to settle, the Cod Army broke the deadlock after 16 minutes.
Striker Jamille Matt looked to force Josh Morris’ flicked header across goal in at the near post, but after goalkeeper Trevor Carson initially cleared, Parkin arrived on the scene to rifle low into the net from six yards out.
It was the ideal start for Town, and it took a brave block from defender Nathan Pond at the other end to see out Pompey’s first moment of danger, when Michael Drennan looked to shoot from Ricky Holmes’ low cross.
Mark Roberts also had to dive in to stop Jake Jervis from finding an abandoned goal after a mix up between Pond and keeper Chris Maxwell.
Fleetwood continued to move forward after Portsmouth’s period of possession, and ten minutes after the opener, Morris was pushed over by Daniel Alfei in the box when Conor McLaughlin crossed.
Sarcevic stepped up to confidently place the resulting spot-kick into the top right corner, sending Carson the wrong way to double Town’s lead after 25 minutes.
Backed by a bell and loud support, Pompey tried to move forward and McLaughlin had to get in and block Jervis’ attempt from a dangerous position.
But Fleetwood held onto their two-goal lead going into half-time, and before Matt found Town’s third after the break, it was Taylor who nearly grabbed the next.
The full-back was sent clear through the middle by Parkin after playing a one-two with Parkin on the halfway line.
With time to shoot, Taylor’s effort towards the bottom-right corner was tipped away well by Carson, and Matt could not quite stretch to reach the rebound.
However, the Cod Army made it three on 56 minutes from Morris’ low corner on the right.
Pond was the first to attack the set-piece and Carson pulled off a reaction save to deny the unmarked defender’s touch from close range, although the rebound fell nicely to Matt who made no mistake from six yards.
It appeared to be game over, but Pompey substitute Jed Wallace went on mazy run and rifled into the top-right corner from outside the box, leaving Maxwell with no chance after the hour mark.
Drennan then cut onto his right foot but scuffed his strike straight into the ground before it rolled to Maxwell.
Barker’s side kept up the pressure on Town’s goal, and Maxwell was forced to tip over Joe Devera’s header from Holmes’ corner to the far post.
Jervis also had space to shoot in Fleetwood’s penalty area but never caught his strike cleanly from Alfei’s pullback on the right.
At the other end, Morris’ corner from right was lifted back across goal at far post before Pond hooked the ball narrowly wide of the right post on the turn in the box.
Maxwell also had one more save to make before the end as he tipped over’ Jervis long-range strike, but Fleetwood held on to pick up an important victory.
FLEETWOOD: Maxwell; McLaughlin, Pond, Roberts (c), Taylor; Murdoch; Schumacher (Goodall, 71), Sarcevic (Blair, 84), Morris; Parkin (Mandron, 80), Matt.
SUBS: Davies, Jordan, Goodall, Evans, Blair, Hughes, Mandron.
GOALS: Parkin, Sarcevic, Matt.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Roberts.
PORTSMOUTH: Carson; Alfei, Devera, N’Gala, Shorey (Agyemang, 64); Fogden (Wallace, 58), Diagouraga (c), Whatmough, Holmes; Jervis, Drennan (Taylor, 78).
SUBS: Smith, Bradley, Painter, Taylor, Agyemang, Racon, Wallace.