Two goals from Brett Pitman helped Portsmouth edge out Blackpool 3-2 at Bloomfield Road this afternoon.
Despite The Seasiders fighting back on two occasions, Pitman was left unmarked to head in his second and ultimately win the three points for Kenny Jackett’s side.
Manager Gary Bowyer made three changes to the side that was knocked out of the FA Cup, with Curtis Tilt and Colin Daniel returning from suspension and injury, respectively. Viv Solomon-Otabor was the other player in the starting line-up.
After the reading of an epitaph and an impeccably observed silence while the Last Post was played, the game got underway with both sides looking to set a marker down early.
It took until the ninth minute for the first chance of the game to be registered and it was a great one for Viv Solomon-Otabor. The winger was left unmarked from a free-kick but he was unable to keep his shot down.
At the other end, Curtis Tilt was quick to read a Portsmouth counter attack and rushed out of position to charge down a strike from Jamal Lowe.
Solomon-Otabor continued to see plenty of the ball for Blackpool and watched his teasing cross just evade the supporting Danny Philliskirk.
A couple of inswinging corners tested the Blackpool defence, however The Seasiders dealt with the threats well.
A well-worked Blackpool attack resulted in Jay Spearing’s cut-back being cleared, while quick thinking from Portsmouth goalkeeper Luke McGee denied Nathan Delfouneso a clean run on goal prior to the interval.
Half-Time: Blackpool 0 Portsmouth 0
The visitors started the second-half immediately on the front foot and caused a bit of panic with a goalmouth scramble, though Blackpool threw themselves at shots to keep the ball out of the net.
Solomon-Otabor went close for The Seasiders when he cut infield and iunleashed a 20-yard drive, but his strike went just wide of the post.
It was Portsmouth who eventually broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute, as Brett Pitman reacted quickest to tuck in a rebound. Ryan Allsop had previously done well to deny Kyle Bennett.
Blackpool pushed to try and get back on level terms, though clear-cut opportunities were proving to be at a premium.
The visitors almost had a great opportunity to score a second when a defensive mistake was pounced upon, but Curtis Tilt made amends in a two-on-one situation.
Looking a threat from corners all afternoon, Portsmouth almost conjured a second goal when Christian Burgess met a teasing delivery. Luckily for The Seasiders, the defender’s header fell wide of the post.
Gary Bowyer opted to introduce new signing Dolly Menga for his debut in the 70th minute and the winger had an immediate impact. He received the ball from Nathan Delfouneso out wide and sent in a teasing delivery that was finished off by Solomon-Otabor.
Parity didn’t last long for Blackpool though, as Portsmouth were back in front six minutes later. Ryan Allsop pulled off another fine save to deny Brett Pitman, yet his clearance fell straight into the path of Ben Close, who made no mistake with the finish.
Blackpool weren’t to be outdone though and found themselves level again three minutes later when Oliver Hawkins headed a cross past his own goalkeeper.
The last 15 minutes of the game was fast becoming a real flurry of activity, and that continued in the 86th minute when Pitman was left unmarked to score his second and Portsmouth’s third with a header.
It proved to be the final bit of decisive action, as the visitors held on for all three points.
Full-Time: Blackpool 2 Portsmouth 3