Match Analysis: Portsmouth 2 Doncaster Rovers 2 - A point will do after bizarre encounter at Fratton Park

Doncaster's John Marquis (l) celebrates his goal with Andy Boyle
Doncaster's John Marquis (l) celebrates his goal with Andy Boyle

Is a 2-2 draw at Portsmouth a good result even when you have led twice and finished the game playing against nine men?

In this eventful and rather bizarre instance, it certainly is.

Rovers raced out of the blocks, piled on the pressure and took a fourth minute lead when evergreen James Coppinger showed great tenacity to continue his run into the box and drill through the legs of Pompey keeper Stephen Henderson.

The pressure continued with Portsmouth struggling to handle a high press or track the brilliant Coppinger who found so much space between the lines.

An offside flag denied them a superb second when Coppinger clipped a ball over the top and John Marquis produced a cunning header to flick the ball past Henderson.

And then, 15 minutes in, it all went off a cliff.

Portsmouth awoke and dominated the rest of the first half with Rovers suddenly seeing hardly any of the ball, certainly in opposition territory.

The hosts equalised on 19 minutes when Anton Walkes turned in from close range.

Rovers held on for the remainder of the half and the second period was much more even, though they did struggle for clear cut opportunities.

That was until Portsmouth left the door open for Marquis who charged into acres of space from a corner and stooped to head in his second goal in as many games.

Doncaster's James Coppinger battles with Portsmouth's Gareth Evans

Doncaster's James Coppinger battles with Portsmouth's Gareth Evans

Portsmouth again pushed and levelled again when Rovers left their door open with substitute Brett Pitman bundling in from close range.

From there, the game was anyone’s and it looked to be going in Rovers’ favour when keeper Henderson was forced off with injury after Portsmouth had used up all their substitutions. Winger Kai Naismith went in goal.

And then Christian Burgess was sent off for a second bookable offence, leaving Pompey with nine men for the entireity of seven added minutes.

Rovers tested the stand in keeper once with a poor effort from Ben Whiteman which Naismith batted away with his legs. More composure and they could have taken advantage.

A point was what they deserved and a point was what they got.


To say Alex Kiwomya’s first taste of action with Rovers was long-awaited is something of an understatement.

And in his 30 minute debut he gave a hint of what he can bring to the side.

His pace literally frightened the Portsmouth back line, whether he was running with the ball or simply charging something down.

Pompey’s defenders suddenly became jittery and it helped Rovers re-establish a foothold in the game.

That raw pace and unpredictability can be a real asset for Rovers, whether used off the bench or from the start.

Add to Kiwomya’s introduction a first appearance of the season for the composed Luke McCullough and there was optimism to take away from Fratton Park.


Alongside Kiwomya’s first appearance was that of both Andy Boyle and Tom Anderson, with Ferguson feeling he had little choice but to throw the newcomers in at the deep end as a first time centre half pairing.

The Rovers boss was concerned Craig Alcock, while performing well deputising in the heart of defence, would have been targeted by Portsmouth up against the considerable height of striker Oliver Hawkins.

Against Hawkins, the new boys coped well in open play and helped to ensure that while Portsmouth showed the better attacking prowess, they struggled to truly threaten Ian Lawlor for long periods.

Anderson and Boyle can take some share of the responsibility for Portsmouth goals with both ending up on the wrong side of the two scorers but all in all, they made promising introductions.

One way to go over the next few weeks maybe as a back three with McCullough, which is how Ferguson opted to play following the introduction of the Northern Ireland international.

McCullough brought the ball out from the back superbly on several occasions, carrying it deep into Portsmouth territory.

This could add a further new dimension to Rovers’ play.


When, oh when, will it end?

Walkes and Pitman’s goals both came from set pieces, and specifically in phases after the initial delivery of the ball.

If it sounds familiar it is because this frailty has blighted Rovers since the turn of the year and played a major role in them failing to win so far in 2018.

The first goal saw Walkes beat Boyle to a header from a corner and then lose the new loan signing to turn in after the ball was sent back towards him with Rovers failing to track at least two other Portsmouth defenders.

And the second was calamitous, first with poor closing down of the cross, a missed header, static goalkeeping and Anderson getting on the wrong side of Pitman, who only had to run into the ball to score.

Rovers are dropping points left, right and centre because of their inadequacies at set pieces.

They need to wake up.