Late brace ends
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.
Aaron Wilbraham opened the scoring in spectacular fashion
Dale boss Keith Hill and assistant Chris Beech