Portsmouth 1 Doncaster Rovers 1: Mallik Wilks strike cancelled out in hard fought draw

Portsmouth v Doncaster Rovers
Portsmouth v Doncaster Rovers
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Doncaster Rovers battled out a hard fought draw with promotion rivals Portsmouth at Fratton Park,

In command courtesy of a first half strike from Mallik Wilks, Rovers were pushed back in the second half by a Portsmouth side that equalised through Omar Bogle.

Grant McCann made five changes to the side that started the FA Cup win over Oldham Athletic.

Aaron Lewis was handed his Rovers debut in place of Niall Mason, who has been suspended by the club.

Also coming in were Mallik Wilks, Matty Blair and Tyler Smith, for his first start.

After a scrappy start to the game, the hosts began to find some control with a strong press in midfield bringing them success but they struggled to craft clear cut opportunities.

Ben Close lashed a volley narrowly wide from the edge of the area while new signing Omar Bogle twice went close with headers, from which he should have done better.

Rovers were unsurprisingly pushing forward with pace and forced multiple errors from a nervy looking Portsmouth back line.

And the nerves were apparent as Rovers took the lead on the half hour.

A long ball forward from Tom Anderson was not dealt with by the Portsmouth defence, allowing Wilks to roll off the shoulder of his man, race clear and slot calmly beyond Craig MacGillivray.

Boosted by the goal, Rovers showed relentlessness to continue to push forward, forcing Portsmouth deeper and deeper.

Wilks sidefooted over the bar after one such attack where Rovers were presented with opportunities to repeatedly recycle the ball.

Portsmouth pushed as half time approached but Dion Donohue's strike from 20 yards was as close as they came to a leveller before the break.

Rovers really should have doubled their advantage less than a minute into the second half but John Marquis failed to connect with a tantalising ball around the Portsmouth back line from Danny Andrew.

And it was punished seven minutes later as Portsmouth equalised.

Paul Downing and Marko Marosi collided as they attempted to claim a cross, with the ball dropping to substitute James Vaughan whose shot was blocked, only to squirm through to Bogle who fired into the roof of the net.

McCann made a double switch with Alfie May replacing Tyler Smith while Ali Crawford came on for Ben Whiteman, who appeared to be injured.

Boosted by the equaliser, Portsmouth enjoyed their best period of the game and Jamal Lowe went close after turning both Tom Anderson and Danny Andrew.

Herbie Kane played a stunning through ball to Blair but a wonderful covering tackle from Nathan Thompson denied him an effort on goal.

Marquis went close with a fine curling effort which drew a superb low save from MacGillivray.

And at the other end Marosi had to be alert to race out and clear after Ronan Curtis raced clean through.

Marosi then produced a stunning one handed save to tip over from Ben Close who slammed a shot from the edge of the area.

Portsmouth looked the more dangerous in the dying minutes and it took another excellent block from Marosi to keep out Lowe.

But May almost struck at the other end, curling a first time effort which produced a fine save from MacGillivray to keep the scores level.

PORTSMOUTH: MacGillivray; Thompson, Whatmough (Burgess), Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Donohue (Vaughan 46); Lowe, Close, Curtis; Bogle (Evans 76). Subs: Bass, Hawkins, May, Isgrove.

ROVERS: Marosi; Lewis, Downing, Anderson, Andrew; Blair (Rowe 83), Whiteman (Crawford 61), Kane; Wilks, Marquis, Smith (May 61). Subs: Jones, Butler, Sadlier, Coppinger.

REFEREE: Alan Young (Cambridgeshire)

ATTENDANCE: 17,800 (480 away)