Before the match, everyone I spoke to from either camp seemed to be expecting a thumping great bit home win irrespective of anything. I think some of the home support just wanted to run Pompey noses in it just to remind them of the switch in playing supremacy that's come our way in recent months - not that they need reminding given the League One table! For my part, I've been saying all week in work, and via Twitter that it was going to be a far more cagey affair with little in it, and so it proved with a largely forgetable first half, with the Cherries playing towards the North Stand in the opening 45 minutes.
Even though the Cherries dominated possession for long periods, the home side seemed tentative in wanting to press forward too much. As the Cherries searched for a way forward, Pompey players thwarted any chance of that happening more often than not. As a result the Cherries seemed content to go sideways and backwards, leaving Portsmouth to chase shadows as the Cherries kept possession for long periods.
Chances were few and far between. Those that fell to the Cherries were not at all well taken, but the best fell to Grabban whose header his the cross bar. For Portsmouth, Jalal was forced in to a making a single finger tip save to push the ball around the post for a corner. Whether the chance was on target to start with is not known given my East Stand vantage point.
It was no surprise that the half finished 0-0.
The second period started in a similar vein as the first had finished - the Cherries content to keep possession to find a chink in the Portsmouth rear guard, while Portsmouth had rare forrays forward which lacked too much bite, when they did manage to get a rare shot away, it was easily dealt with or off target. When it was on target, Jalal has to be alert to the danger, which required one effort to be brilliantly tipped over the cross bar.
As the half progressed it seemed clear that Cherries patience was going to be rewarded at some point, it seemed only a matter of time before breaking their stubborn resistance. The only question was when and by how many!?
The break through came (finally) in the 63rd minute when Jalal bowled the ball out to Ritchie who in turn made use of Francis, then McQuoid, whose centre found Grabban whose low shot found the back of the net much to the delight of the home faithful. Moments later Pugh went wide of the target as the Cherries went forward in search of more goals.
The all important second goal came in the 77th minute with Brett Pitman played a lovely reverse pass in to the path of Marc Pugh who neatly slotted home to double the advantage to break Pompey spirits as their heads visibly dropped.
A third goal could, and should, have come in the final few moments when substitute Matt Tubbs appeared to be 1-on-1 with Eastwood in the Pompey goal. Sadly the keeper got the better of Tubbs, making a save with his feet.
Overall, it was the right result against a spirited Portsmouth side, who lacked organisation and consistency - which is no surprise given their current circumstances.
Cherries Player Summaries
Jalal - Performed superbly well given that he was hardly called upon, made some fantastic saves.
Francis - Was caught out of position a couple of times, but overall had a great game
Cook - Had a fantastic game given the unwanted distraction over the past couple of weeks. The stick from the Pompey fans was not deserved.
Seabourne - Had a great match in the centre of defence with Cook.
Ritchie - Had a superb home debut at left back. Didn't look out of place in that position, doubled up well with Pugh down that left flank. You can see why Di Canio was so upset to see him go!
McQuoid - Full of running from start to finish. Great footwork at times to wrong foot Pompey.
Arter - Just ran and ran without getting booked!
O'Kane - The more I see of O'Kane, the more I like.
Pugh - Some of his trickery was too much for Pompey at times, so when combined with Ritchie's trickery - almost unplayable!
Pitman - Not sure about Pitman at times. Is he back to full fitness yet after his switch from Bristol City? At times *seems* lazy, then produced a piece of magic, like the pass to Pugh, which says otherwise!
Grabban - Full of running, rewarded with a fine goal to break the deadlock.
Tubbs - Had the perfect opportunity to score, but wasn't to be.
Hughes - Why booed by Pompey? Didn't do much wrong while on the pitch.
MacDonald - Fantastic to see the Ginger Zidane back on the pitch again, played some lovely passes.
AFCB: Jalal, Francis, Cook, Seabourne, Ritchie, McQuoid, Arter, O'Kane, Pugh, Pitman, Grabban
Subs: Allsopp, Partington, Fogden, Fletcher, Tubbs (on for Grabban, 82 mins), Hughes (for Arter, 83 mins), MacDonald (for Pitman, 90 mins)
Andy Burton, Portsmouth