Fleetwood Town's run in this season's Emirates FA Cup came to an end after a 2-1 home defeat to Portsmouth on Saturday evening.
Fleetwood - despite having chances of their own - were on the wrong end of two set-pieces from the visitors in the second half, with James Bolton and John Marquis scoring the goals for Pompey.
Town did get a goal back in added on time through Conor McAleny, with the substitute hitting his shot from range, whilst getting a slight deflection on the way through to goal.
The game began with both sides going for it in the middle of the park, but it was the visitors who threatened first.
Portsmouth broke on the counter attack and when Marcus Harness whipped in a cross, he found Marquis, but the former Doncaster forward headed the ball just wide of the goal post.
After a long ball over the top from Kenny Jackett’s side, Harness reacted to Harry Souttar’s clearance first, with Andy Cannon picking up the loose ball and firing over the bar.
Just after the twenty minute mark, there was a big shout for a penalty for the hosts! The ball appeared to strike the arm of a Portsmouth defender, but the referee in the middle Mr. Edwards waved away the claims.
Immediately after, it could have been a penalty to the visitors. Marquis turned to the referee after Souttar brought down the forward, but the man in the middle judged a foul on the Australian defender first.
Before the half-hour mark, Wes Burns did well to break away from his man before floating a ball into the box, but it failed to find a fellow teammate in the process.
The Cod Army nearly took the lead after Ched Evans and Paddy Madden combined, before the Irishman‘s strike was saved well by Alex Bass in the Pompey goal.
This opened the game up, and Portsmouth had another chance to open the scoring. Harness did well to control the ball before striking at goal, which was brilliantly diverted wide by a block from Lewie Coyle.
Five minutes before half-time, it was Fleetwood who felt they should have taken the lead. From a Paul Coutts corner, it was Souttar who managed to make contact with his head, with his effort just sailing over the bar.
At the start of the second half, Madden had a chance to put the hosts into the ascendancy but he couldn’t direct his first time shot on target, seeing it sail over the Percy Ronson Stand – which held over 300 Portsmouth fans.
Minutes later, after Portsmouth failed to deal with the attacking threat, Danny Andrew’s curling shot looked destined for goal, but it was blocked out for a corner.
As play was under way in the second half, Portsmouth piled on the pressure after the hour mark, as tiredness started to show from Joey Barton’s side.
The former FA Cup winners caused chaos in the Town back line after Harness’ cross found Cannon inside the penalty area, but the midfielder’s effort went wayward.
Shortly after, the visitors took the lead from a corner. The ball was swung in from the right and it was somehow bundled over the line by Bolton to give the away side the lead at Highbury.
Despite going a goal down, the response from Fleetwood was immediate. Josh Morris found himself in space from 25-yards out, but his effort was comfortable for Bass.
Town pushed for that equaliser but it was Jackett’s side who doubled their lead. Another corner was swung in from the opposite corner spot this time with Marquis ready to pounce after confusion in the six-yard box.
As the game neared an end, Town continued to try and break down the visitors. Burns kept plugging away and found space to shoot from distance, but his strike went over the bar.
With three minutes of added on time shown on the officials board, McAleny – who was a second half substitute - got the Cod Army back into the game with a fruitful strike from the edge of the box. Was there time for another Fleetwood attack?
The ball was played forward by Barton’s side deep into added on time, but Portsmouth held firm at the back to put their name in the hat for Monday’s Fourth Round draw.
Fleetwood are back in cup action on Tuesday evening when they welcome Accrington Stanley to Highbury Stadium in the Leasing.com Trophy – which will be the club’s fourth home match in nine days.
Town XI: Cairns (GK), Coyle, Andrew, Eastham (McAleny 83’), Souttar, Burns, Dempsey, Evans, Morris, Coutts (C) (Sowerby 72’), Madden (Saunders 80’).
Subs not used: Gilks (GK), Biggins, Hill, Garner.
Portsmouth XI: Bass (GK), Walkes, Naylor (C), Burgess, Marquis, Curtis, Bolton, Cannon, Harness, Raggett, Seddon (Close 80’).
Subs not used: MacGillivary (GK), Downing, Pitman, Hawkins, Harrison, Evans.
Attendance: 2,145 (525)