Late brace ends

Middleton Guardian - - LEISURE -

SKY BET LEAGUE ONE ROCHDALE ....................... 1 PORTSMOUTH ................. 3

LEAGUE One lead­ers Portsmouth proved to hot to han­dle for Rochdale on Satur­day in an en­ter­tain­ing con­test at the Crown Oil Arena.

Dale held their own for the first 70 min­utes of the match, though Pom­pey’s pe­ri­ods of pres­sure car­ried more threat than the home side’s. And two goals in a ten-minute spell late on se­cured the points for Kenny Jack­ett’s team.

Hill made three changes to the line-up beaten 4-1 at Sun­der­land the pre­vi­ous week­end. Jim McNulty re­placed Har­ri­son McGa­hey at the heart of the de­fence while David Perkins came in for Matty Gil­lam and up front there was a first start of the sea­son for Jor­dan Williams, who came in for Calvin An­drew.

Wil­bra­ham has had his de­trac­tors among the Dale sup­port in the open­ing weeks of the sea­son, but his top-class strike to open the scor­ing on four min­utes will have gone a long way to cur­ry­ing favour with the ma­jor­ity. The ex­pe­ri­enced striker al­lowed a Cal­lum Camps pass to run across his body be­fore launch­ing a dip­ping 25-yard vol­ley over Craig MacGil­livray and un­der the Pom­pey goal­keeper’s cross­bar.

In an en­ter­tain­ing open­ing half, Portsmouth full­back Nathan Thomp­son hit a sting­ing ef­fort from the edge of the area which smashed against Josh Lil­lis’ cross­bar while at the other end Ol­lie Rath­bone tried to bet­ter Wil­bra­ham’s strike with a 30-yard ef­fort from a cen­tral po­si­tion which had MacGil­livray backped­dling and re­lieved to see the ball end up wide of the post.

MacGil­livray got his body be­hind a Camps free-kick to pre­vent Dale dou­bling their lead mid- way through the first half but when Portsmouth pressed for­ward in the next at­tack they lev­elled mat­ters. Though his name was not on the score­sheet, the goal was all about that man Brett Pit­man, so of­ten a tor­ment to Dale in the past. He gath­ered the ball with his back to goal on the left side of the penalty area and clev­erly turned and fed it into the space be­tween Josh Lil­lis and his back­line, Ja­mal Lowe rac­ing in to put the fin­ish­ing touch to Pit­man’s su­perb work.

Lowe al­most had a sec­ond on the half hour mark when Portsmouth broke for­ward at pace, the striker pok­ing the ball wide of Lil­lis only to see Joe Raf­ferty in the right place to clear his at­tempt off the line.

And in a strong fin­ish to the first half from the vis­i­tors, Ro­nan Cur­tis was de­nied by a fine re­flex save by Lil­lis when he slid in to meet Lowe’s de­liv­ery from the right.

Andy Cannn, on at the end of the first half for the in­jured Sam Hart, cre­ated an open­ing with Rath­bone at the start of the sec­ond half. The duo ad­vanced down the left into the area where Can­non’s shot was a tight an­gle was par­ried by MacGil­livray, Rath­bone slic­ing the re­bound wide.

The duo later tested MacGil­livray again from a tight an­gle on the left, this time Can­non’s short free kick blasted at goal by Rath­bone and beaten away by the Pom­pey stop­per.

Portsmouth edged ahead in the 70th minute, the goal, pre­dictably, com­ing from Pit­man.

Ryan De­laney had done a good job track­ing his move­ment dur­ing the first 25 min­utes of the half but was bam­boo­zled by the front­man’s feint to the back post then run to the near to meet Lee Brown’s de­liv­ery with an ex­pertly flicked fin­ish into the cor­ner of Lil­lis’ net.

And ten min­utes later it was game over for Dale. The home side were una- ble to clear Cur­tis’ cor­ner af­ter Matt Clarke had beaten Wil­bra­ham in the air at the back post, and when the ball re­turned to the Pom­pey de­fender he skipped past Wil­bra­ham and smashed an un­stop­pable drive into the top cor­ner of Lil­lis’ net.

Sean Hans­ford

Aaron Wil­bra­ham opened the scor­ing in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion

Sean Hans­ford

Dale boss Keith Hill and as­sis­tant Chris Beech

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