REPORT: Wanderers v Portsmouth

In-form Wanderers continued their top-six charge with another show of strength at a buoyant University of Bolton Stadium.

Another goal from the unstoppable Dion Charles – his sixth in 10 games – and second-half strikes from Kieran Lee and Eoin Toal swept the Whites to an eighth home win of the season and an eighth game in a row without defeat.

A quick win double over Portsmouth – rarely in doubt once Charles had claimed his 12th goal of the season a quarter of an hour in – kept Ian Evatt’s men fifth in the table, level on points with Derby ahead of next Saturday’s mouth-watering trip to Pride Park.

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And their impressive run either side of Christmas has also lifted Wanderers six points clear of Wycombe Wanderers in seventh spot as they stay right up with the pace in the play-off pack.   

Having knocked Pompey out of the Papa Johns Trophy in mid-week with a much-changed side, Wanderers reverted to the starting line-up that had drawn with league leaders Plymouth a week ago.

And they were quickly into their stride to take control early on.

Portsmouth had lost the service of loan keeper Josh Griffiths as they gave a league debut to Josh Oluwayemi.

He answered a couple of quick-fire questions as he kept out a couple of efforts from Conor Bradley.

But with 15 minutes gone, the former Tottenham youngster was picking the ball out of the net as Wanderers went 1-0 up.

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Oluwayemi saved an initial effort from Charles but the striker is in such form that when the ball was returned to him via Randell Williams, he needed just one touch to control and then hook a shot past the Pompey keeper to take his tally up to a dozen.

It was just the start Wanderers wanted, although Portsmouth – without a league win since October – had chances to equalise through defenders Sean Raggett and Michael Morrison, who both missed the target.

Those let-offs spurred Wanderers back into life as Evatt’s men went searching for a second goal in another dominant spell before half-time, with new signing Dan Nlundulu joining the effort as a replacement for injured mid-week match-winner Jon Dadi Bodvarsson.

And while Pompey got to the break still just about in the hunt, Wanderers pounced two minutes into the second half to double their lead.

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Dempsey deserved enormous credit for an excellent run down the right wing and when Oluwayemi then spilled his cross, Lee was in the perfect place to drill home the loose ball with a perfectly controlled finish.

Wanderers suddenly smelled blood and Charles went close to a third with a first-time volley from George Johnston’s cross which Oluwayemi kept out at the foot of a post as the rain began to hammer down.

Portsmouth needed the next goal if they were to cause the Whites any anxiety and from Denver Hume’s deep cross top scorer Colby Bishop warmed the hands of James Trafford, whose handling was again spot-on.

But Oluwayemi remained the busier of the keepers and he again had to be alert to keep out a near-post header from Nlundulu after the striker was picked out by the near-impeccable Lee.

Some of Wanderers’ play around the Portsmouth penalty area was of the highest order and when they did go 3-0 with 20 minutes to go it was with another excellent goal.

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The Whites strung together another batch of passes and when the Northern Irish duo of Bradley and Toal again linked up, Toal accepted a return pass from his countryman to coolly steer the ball home with the poise of a proven goalscorer.

Evatt made further changes from the bench to share out the workload with skipper Ricardo Almeida Santos able to get some more valuable minutes under his belt.

But one thing that doesn’t alter at the moment is Wanderers’ run of clean sheets with Trafford’s save from Bishop completing another shut-out for a seventh time in eight games as the Whites keep motoring on.

Wanderers: Trafford; Toal, Aimson, Johnston (Almeida Santos 83); Bradley, Morley, Dempsey (Sheehan 83), R Williams; Lee (MJ Williams 75); Bodvarsson (Nlundulu, 37), Charles (Kachunga 75). Substitutes: Sadlier, Beck.

Booked: None

Plymouth: Oluwayemi; Swanson, Morrison (Towler 67), Raggett, Ogilvie, Hume (Hackett 67); Tunnicliffe (Thompson 83), Morrell; Jacobs (Curtis 67), Bishop (Scarlett 83), Dale. Substitutes: Pigott, Steward.

Booked: Morrell

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

Attendance: 17,977 (975 Portsmouth)

Read Time: 4 mins