Ten man Fleetwood Town lost their final match of 2018 at home to league leaders Portsmouth 5-2 on Saturday afternoon.
The Cod Army led at the break courtesy of goals from Paddy Madden and Ched Evans, after Ben Thompson had given the visitors the lead.
However after Dean Marney was shown a second yellow card early in the second period, Jamal Lowe (2), Brett Pitman and Anton Walkes sealed the points for the visitors with a three goal winning margin.
Madden and substitute James Wallace both hit the post with the score at 3-2, but it wasn’t to be for Fleetwood who now sit 11th in the Sky Bet League One table.
Joey Barton made two changes to the side which beat Doncaster Rovers on Boxing Day. Harrison Biggins and Wes Burns started, with Nathan Sheron and Jason Holt dropping to the bench.
Town started off the brighter side with a freekick in the second minute. Ross Wallace’s delivery met the head of Madden who flicked it towards Evans, but Pompey keeper Craig MacGillivray saved low down.
Portsmouth reacted well with a spell of possession, which led to a routine save for Alex Cairns who clutched Ben Close’s shot from outside the area in the sixth minute.
Pompey came knocking again, just a minute later, when Close struck the ball towards goal from close range but Cairns pulled off a great save to deny the midfielder, once again.
It was an eventful start to the game and Town had another chance after some great link up play between Evans, Madden, and Burns in the 17th minute, however it was cancelled out by a last-ditch tackle from Lee Brown.
The visitors got the first goal of the game, in the 26th minute, through a brilliant strike from Thompson that crashed into the net off the crossbar.
13 minutes later and the Cod Army got the equaliser they were looking for. A one-two meant that Lewie Coyle had enough space to deliver an enticing ball which was met, on the half volley, by Madden and struck sweetly into the back of the net. A great finish.
That puts the Irishman on nine goals during this season’s Sky Bet League One campaign.
Madden was in the thick of the action as he was booked for a foul shortly after but was then fouled inside the Portsmouth penalty area. Evans stepped up and sent MacGillvray the wrong way to make it 2-1. Like Madden, it was Evans’ 9th of the campaign.
It was Portsmouth with the last chance of the half, but Ross Wallace came to the rescue with a crucial goal-line clearance to deny an almost certain goal from Lowe.
The second half didn’t get off to the best of starts as Marney saw red, in the 51st minute, for a second bookable offence.
The visitors capitalised on Fleetwood’s ten men, as they were awarded a penalty five minutes after the red card. Pitman smashed it home to equalise – Ross Wallace the man who initially gave away the spot kick.
A minute later and Pompey were in front thanks to Walkes, with his curling effort flying into the top corner.
The hosts continued to fight and almost levelled the score, after 62 minutes, when Burns’ free-kick was parried into the path of substitute Wallace, who saw his shot blocked off the line and then Ashley Eastham’s volley was also blocked.
Barton’s side continued to push for an equaliser but there was no luck, as the woodwork came to Pompey’s rescue, twice, after attempts from Madden and J Wallace.
Portsmouth got their fourth of the game in the 81st minute, against the run of play, as Lowe slid one past Cairns from inside the area.
Lowe got his second of the game and Portsmouth’s fifth, three minutes after his first, thanks to a quick counter attack.
Fleetwood Town: Cairns; Coyle, Eastham, Morgan (C), R Wallace; Burns (Dempsey), Marney, Biggins (Bolger), Hunter (J Wallace); Madden, Evans. (4-4-2)
Subs not used: Jones (GK), Holt, McAleny, Sheron
Portsmouth: MacGillivray; Walkes, Clarke, Whatmough, Brown (Haunstrup); Thompson, Naylor; Curtis (Green), Close (Evans), Lowe; Pitman. (4-2-3-1)
Subs not used: Bass (GK), Burgess, Mason, Wheeler