The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By War­ren Lucy

THE dam­age was done in the first half as a dom­i­nant Portsmouth cast aside Craw­ley.

Cur­tis Main’s first-half dou­ble, ei­ther side of a Gary Roberts strike, earned the win for Pompey, who made it three con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries and charged into the play-off places.

Man­ager Paul Cook was keen to praise his team fol­low­ing the vic­tory.

“We were ex­cel­lent and that was just how our home games should work out,” he said. “We were ag­gres­sive in our play and were ter­rific, par­tic­u­larly in the first half.

“Our two full-backs were the best two play­ers on the pitch. You’d have never known Gareth Evans had never played right-back be­fore.

“The fans have suf­fered with us in the past. This was about the play­ers and the sup­port­ers. We knew Craw­ley would give us a game and we knew we’d have to stick to our be­liefs be­cause they play an ex­pan­sive game.”

Craw­ley striker James Collins scuffed wide early on, while at the other end, Michael Doyle sliced an ef­fort past the post.

But nine min­utes in the hosts took the lead through Main, who tucked home from close range af­ter Carl Baker’s low left-wing cross found the front­man.

It was 2-0 mo­ments later as Alex Davey was dis­pos­sessed just out­side his own box and Roberts crashed a curl­ing shot past Yusuf Mersin and into the top cor­ner. Main nearly dou­bled his tally but his glanc­ing header crept wide. He did get his sec­ond with the half draw­ing to a close, pounc­ing when Mersin spilled a de­flected strike from Mi­lan Lalkovic.

Af­ter the break, sub­sti­tute Bob­son Bawl­ing went close to re­duc­ing the deficit and then vis­it­ing skip­per Jimmy Smith forced David Forde into a smart stop.

Baker then saw a fear­some at­tempt fly over the up­right and then curled just wide soon af­ter.

Late on, home sub­sti­tute Kal Nai­smith’s shot was held by Mersin, and Tom Davies de­nied Craw­ley’s Ja­son Ban­ton from snatch­ing a late con­so­la­tion for the Reds.

And there was still time for Michael Smith to fire inches past the post, as Pompey eased to vic­tory.

Vis­it­ing man­ager Der­mot Drummy felt his side were blown away by their op­po­nents, but added poor play didn’t help their cause.

“We gave two sloppy goals away to put them in the driv­ing seat, and the third just be­fore half-time killed us off,” he said.

“In the first half they pressed us and we couldn’t deal with them. They are a good side but we need to stop the er­rors.

“Their move­ment and their sup­port was some­thing else.

“We were bet­ter in the sec­ond half with Josh Payne com­ing in and con­trol­ling things. But some play­ers didn’t want the ball at times and didn’t have the brav­ery to play.”

PIC­TURES: Adam Rivers/Pro Sports

MAIN EVENT: Cur­tis Main, right, en­joys his sec­ond goal

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