Rotherham United were on the wrong end of a five-goal thriller on Tuesday as Portsmouth ran out as winners at Fratton Park.
Freddie Ladapo did restore parity on two separate occasions after strikes from Ronan Curtis and John Marquis had hauled the hosts in front, but the Millers’ resolve was finally broken as Ben Close fired in the decisive goal midway through the second half.
It wasn’t the start that the Millers had hoped for as they found themselves a goal down with less than a minute on the clock. The home side broke forward immediately from kick-off and Ryan Williams was able to find Curtis who curled a finish into the top corner of the net from 20 yards.
Portsmouth continued to look a threat in the opening exchanges and they almost created another scoring opportunity on eight minutes as Brandon Haunstrup clipped a ball over the top to Close, but Daniel Iversen raced off his line to gather at the second attempt.
Three minutes later and it was Rotherham who set their sights on finding the net, but Kyle Vassell’s low drive was smartly kept out by Craig MacGillivray in the hosts’ goal. That didn’t matter though as with a quarter of an hour played, Ladapo pounced to poke home an equaliser after Kyle Vassell's initial free-kick was spilled by the ‘keeper.
Both teams then jostled for possession as they searched for a foothold in the contest, but it was the Millers who crafted the next chance. Carlton Morris burst down the right flank before sending a dangerous cross towards the head of Trevor Clarke at the far post, only for the Irishman to direct his effort just over the bar.
With 27 minutes played Ladapo broke into the area to get a shot away from an acute angle, but he was unable to double his tally as MacGillivray thwarted him with a sprawling stop. Despite the Millers looking the more likely of the two teams to go in front, Portsmouth regained their lead courtesy of Marquis who planted a finish beyond Iversen from inside the six-yard box just eight minutes before half-time.
Following the restart, Ellis Harrison didn’t take long to divert the ball over the line as he attacked an aerial ball for Pompey, but the officials adjudged him to have fouled Iversen in the process and Kenny Jackett’s men could have no complaints with the decision.
Up the other end just after the hour mark, the referee was called into action again and he awarded the Millers a penalty as Ollie Hawkins brought down a white shirt inside the area. Ladapo was the man to step up and take the spot kick, and he confidently dispatched it to double his and Rotherham’s tally for the evening.
However, the topsy-turvy nature of the game continued, and Portsmouth were back in front after 67 minutes courtesy of Close. The midfielder arrowed a volley past the despairing reach of Iversen and into the bottom corner after he anticipated a loose ball inside the final third before making the sweetest of connections with his strike.
Jamie Lindsay and Matt Crooks were introduced for the final stages as Rotherham chased what would’ve been a third equaliser, but things were made more difficult when Billy Jones limped off with an injury. Having already made all of their permitted substitutions, the visitors had to finish the night with 10 men and Portsmouth hung on to secure victory.
Portsmouth: MacGillivray, Walkes, Brown ©, Burgess, Williams (Harness 78’), Hawkins, Marquis, Curtis, Harrison, Close, Haunstrup.
Unused Substitutes: Bass, Downing, Pitman, Bolton, Cannon, Evans.
Rotherham United: Iversen; Olosunde (Ogbene 45’), Ihiekwe ©, Robertson, Jones; Morris, Barlaser (Lindsay 74’), Wiles, Clarke; Vassell (Crooks 74’); Ladapo.
Unused Substitutes: Price, Thompson, Hastie, Smith.
Attendance: 16,355 (204 Millers).