Could the bright new era we were promised be turning into more of a false dawn? After an improved showing brought a somewhat unfortunate defeat at Blackpool on Tuesday night Rovers travelled to the south coast hoping to get the result the midweek performance had perhaps merited. However, any hope of going one better was to be dealt a significant blow just three minutes in as Portsmouth keeper Stephen Henderson hoofed a ball downfield that missed everyone bar Luke Varney, who needed just one flick of the boot to knock the ball beyond Neil Sullivan and turn the clearance into a goal.
A disappointing start could have gotten even worse just two minutes later as Dave Kitson got the ball beyond Sullivan, but George Friend was back to clear the ball off the line. Portsmouth were continuing to creat and they threatened again as Erik Huseklepp beat the offside trap on the left and crossed for Kitson, but again Friend was on hand to avert the danger. Finally Rovers began to assert themselves and after spending some time in the Pompey half eventually drew level just before the half hour mark. John Oster rolled a left wing corner back to Simon Gillett on the edge of the area and he set himself before hitting a firm strike with his second touch through the area and into the net. The home side tried to hit back, but despite forcing a couple of corners couldn’t get in a telling effort and the half ended level.
As they had at kick-off Portsmouth would start the second half on the front foot and forced a corner early on from which the ball came out to Huseklepp and his cross picked out Riccardo Rocha who headed wide. Though Portsmouth were keeping the pressure on it was Rovers who threatened next as Kyle Bennett carried the ball forward before shooting wide. That would be just a brief respite as Pompey resumed the pressure as a cross from the left was headed over before Huseklepp fired in a low shot that Sullivan had to get down to his left to save.
Midway through the half the home side’s pressure finally told as they retook the lead; a deep cross from the left nodded back across goal where Rovers left David Norris to it as he headed the ball over Sullivan, for Kitson to make sure on the line. With fifteen minutes to play Portsmouth wrapped up the three points as Kitson released Norris in the left channel and his cut-back was turned home by Varney..
Portsmouth line-up (4-4-2): Stephen Henderson; Greg Halford, Ricardo Rocha, Jason Pearce,Tal Ben Haim; Liam Lawrence, David Norris, Hayden Mullins, Erik Huseklepp (Joel Ward); Dave Kitson (Marko Futacs), Luke Varney
subs not used: Jamie Ashdown, Aaron Mokoena, Nwanko Kanu
booked: Ricardo Rocha
Doncaster Rovers line-up (4-3-3): Neil Sullivan; Pascal Chimbonda, Sam Hird, George Friend, Herita Ilunga; Simon Gillett, Brian Stock, John Oster (Jon Parkin); Giles Barnes (Jamie Coppinger), Kyle Bennett (James Hayter), Billy Sharp
subs not used: Jonathan Maxted, Richard Naylor
booked: Billy Sharp, Kyle Bennett