Shrewsbury Town were unable to make their numerical advantage count as play-off chasing Portsmouth claim all three points.
John Marquis went from hero to zero in the second half. The ex-Doncaster striker doubled Pompey’s advantage in the 36th minute, but was later sent off for a full-blooded challenge on Harry Chapman. Marcus Harness gave the dominate visitors a 25th minute lead, as Shrewsbury were powerless to resist.
Town were much brighter in the second half and reduced the arrears just after the break. Nathaniel Ogbeta took the bull by the horns to give his side a fighting chance of rescuing a point. And despite Marquis’ straight red with 23 minutes remaining, Shrewsbury were unable to locate the equaliser.
The home side made two changes from the side that beat Burton 2-1 in midweek. Ryan Sears was drafted in for the injured Josh Daniels, and Dan Udoh came in for Harry Chapman. Youngster Tom Bloxham was called up to the bench.
Shrewsbury made a bright start to proceedings. Sean Goss’ free-kick was aimed at ex-Portsmouth striker Curtis Main but he couldn’t make the required connection at the back post. Then, neat build-up play between Josh Vela and Curtis Main saw Dan Udoh receive possession on the edge of the box. The Nigerian turned sharply, but his final effort was straight at former Shrewsbury keeper Craig MacGillivray.
Despite a promising 10 minutes, the rest of the half belonged to Portsmouth. Ben Close’s dinking cross was met by Ryan Williams and he flashed a header narrowly wide of the target. Ro Shaun-Williams made a crucial intervention to deny his namesake following a dangerous Lee Brown cross. Last ditch defending was the order of the day once more, after a Michael Jacobs corner was guided on by Tom Naylor. John Marquis was looking to pounce but Town managed to scramble clear.
Moments later, Portsmouth made their dominance count with the opening goal. Callum Johnson and Ryan Williams linked up superbly with Marcus Harness eventually being teed up. The forward whipped an unstoppable effort beyond the stranded Harry Burgoyne and into the far-left hand corner.
Danny Cowley’s side were rampant and should have made it 2-0. Town failed to deal with Lee Brown’s delivery and the ball fell fortuitously to Ryan Williams from close range. A crucial Harry Burgoyne stop denied the former Rotherham man. Shrewsbury were struggling to mount any kind of attacking offense, and were punished once more nine minutes prior to the break. A cross to the back post was guided across the danger area by Lee Brown and John Marquis had the simplest of tasks to turn home.
Shrewsbury sparked into life in the second period and reduced the deficit thanks to magnificent play from Nathanael Ogbeta. The youngster picked up the baton just inside the Pompey area and drove forward unopposed. He reached the edge of the area before unleashing a low drive which evaded the outstretched fingertips of Craig MacGillivray.
Just as Town had hauled themselves back into the contest, they were almost the architects of their own downfall. Ethan Ebanks-Landell gifted possession to an opponent and Marquis was soon in control. David Davis bailed his teammate out with a tremendous challenge inside the box.
Blackburn loanee Harry Chapman was sent on at the break to add creativity – his cross found Curtis Main in a central position, but his hooked shot was comfortably gathered by MacGillivray. In the 67th minute, Town were one man better off than their opposition. John Marquis lunged at Harry Chapman on the halfway mark, and his tackle was deemed to be a red card offence.
Shrewsbury were given a new lease of life. A melee of bodies in the box tried to deal with Chapman’s free-kick – the ball found Dave Edwards, but the veteran couldn’t work MacGillivray. Town continued to take the game to Portsmouth. This time Shaun Whalley won the ball high up the pitch and found David Davis; however, the midfielder could only blaze over.
Rekeil Pyke was thrown on to try and conjure an equaliser. Harry Chapman’s cross found the striker, but his header looped over the crossbar. Seven minutes were added on to the 90, but Portsmouth used the dark arts to run down the clock by requiring the use of the physio at every opportunity.
Shrewsbury go to Northampton on Good Friday, whilst Portsmouth welcome Rochdale.
Team Line Ups
1. Burgoyne, 12. Sears (45), 29. Pennington (82), 5. Williams, 24. Ebanks-Landell, 14. Ogbeta, 10. Vela, 28. Davis, 6. Goss (69), 20. Main, 23. Udoh (69)
Subs: 4. Edwards (69), 7. Whalley (69), 9. Pyke (82), 30. Caton, 32. Chapman (45), 39. Bloxham, 41. Bevan
Subs Not Used: 30. Caton, 39. Bloxham, 41. Bevan
1. MacGillivray, 2, Johnson, 6. Whatmough, 20. Raggett, 3. Brown, 4. Naylor, 8. Close (84), 19. Harness, 7. Williams (95), 9. Marquis, 24. Jacobs (75)
Subs: 13. Bolton, 14. Cannon (75), 15. Nicholaisen (95), 16. Byres, 21. Daniels (84), 22. Ward, 23. White
Subs Not Used: 13. Bolton, 16. Byres, 22. Ward, 23. White
Other League One Results
Oxford 2 – 1 Lincoln
AFC Wimbledon 1 – 0 Northampton
Blackpool 2 – 2 Plymouth
Bristol Rovers 0 – 1 Sunderland
Hull 1 – 1 Gillingham
MK Dons 1 – 0 Doncaster
Peterborough 7 – 0 Accrington
Wigan 0 – 0 Ipswich