Portsmouth 2-1 Rochdale: Cowley's 100% record intact after Rochdale win
(Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)

Portsmouth made it three wins from three under new boss Danny Cowley after victory over struggling Rochdale.

Ryan Williams and Ronan Curtis got the goals in the first half as Pompey ran out 2-1 winners at Fratton Park. Jake Beesley halved the deficit in stoppage time for Dale, but it was nothing more than a consolation.

Victory for Cowley’s men keeps them in the play-off places on a day where all of the top six who played in League One won.

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Portsmouth welcomed Curtis back into the starting line-up after returning from international duty, whilst Rochdale also made one change with Kwadwo Baah coming in for the injured Stephen Humphrys.

And it took Cowley’s men barely five minutes to go in front. Pompey won the ball high up the pitch and Marcus Harness found space on the right before steering the ball across the face of goal where Williams was on hand to tap in.

Portsmouth then should have doubled their lead inside 19 minutes when they won the ball in midfield and Curtis released Michael Jacobs through on goal, but one on one with Gavin Bazunu he fired just wide.

Pompey cruising

However, they did go 2-0 up eight minutes before half time. Jacobs played the ball forward to Curtis in space, who drove at Paul McShane before picking out the bottom corner with a fine low strike from the edge of the area.

It should have been more for the hosts, who dominated the first half. Harness latched onto a neat flick from Curtis to go through into the Rochdale penalty area, but lost his footing when it counted before the winger opted to pass instead of shoot in a promising position, but Bazunu was out well to gather before Curtis could get something on it.

At the other end, Dale had their first real effort on goal just before the break when Baah was allowed to cut inside from the left but his deflected effort went just wide from 18 yards out.

And they perhaps should have halved the deficit going into half-time. A long kick from Bazunu played in Beesley who found himself through on goal, but Craig MacGillivray was out well to block at the feet of the striker.

The second half produced little in terms of goalmouth action in the early stages, with Rochdale doing well to clear Harness’ low cross with Sean Raggett waiting to turn the ball in.

Rochdale captain Eoghan O’Connell then did well to turn another Harness ball in away with Curtis and Harvey White waiting in the middle, before Callum Johnson fired over the bar from the resulting corner.

With time running out, the visitors had half a chance to get back into the game as Jimmy Keohane whipped in a dangerous ball from the right but it went just over Haydon Roberts at the far post.

Dale strike late

And in stoppage time Rochdale halved the deficit when Alex Newby found a yard of space on the right and he fired the ball across goal to Beesley who reacted firs to turn the ball in.

It was an unnecessarily tense finale for Portsmouth, who had remained comfortable throughout, but they had done enough in the first half to earn all three points on the south coast and keep Cowley’s 100% record as Pompey manager.