THERE were fireworks off the pitch at Fratton Park tonight but there were none on it for Southend United as the Shrimpers slumped to a miserable 4-1 defeat.

Blues boss Sol Campbell had been hoping for a memorable return to Portsmouth.

But the Hampshire side heaped more pain on the struggling Shrimpers.

After a quiet start to the game, Southend’s Isaac Hutchinson saw a low, left-footed shot from long range smothered by Portsmouth goalkeeper Alex Bass.

And, just moments later, Hutchinson fired wide of the left post after drifting into the left hand side of the penalty area before he turned provider in the 33rd minute.

The young midfielder teed up an unmarked Brandon Goodship in the right hand side of the box but the striker’s low shot was blocked by the legs of Bass.

Hutchinson was involved again when his low, long range effort was held by Bass before Simon Cox fizzed a well struck shot, from a similar distance, inches over the crossbar.

But, after surviving the scares, Portsmouth hit back with Ben Close seeing a 12 yard shot impressively saved by Blues goalkeeper Nathan Bishop low down to his right hand side.

However, Portsmouth were not to be denied for long and the hosts opened the scoring two minutes into first half stoppage time when Brandon Haunstrup’s inviting right wing cross picked out John Marquis who prodded the ball into the back of the net from close range.

Portsmouth remained on top after the break with Ellis Harrison somehow heading Ronan Curtis’ left wing cross over the cross bar from six yards.

But Harrison was not to be denied for long as the striker doubled Portsmouth’s lead in the 50th minute, firing home from six yards – seemingly from an offside position – via the underside of the crossbar.

Portsmouth soon came close to making it 3-0 when Tom Naylor sent a low 20 yard shot against the inside of the left post before Blues responded by making their first change of the night as Emile Acquah replaced Cox in attack.

Acquah was immediately involved as headed Hutchinson’s right wing corner wide of the left post before Blues got back into the game, in the 69th minute, with Goodship on target.

The striker received a square pass from Elvis Bwomono and unleashed a well struck 25 yard shot which Bass could only parry into the bottom right hand corner of the net.

Six minutes later, Blues boss Campbell made a second change with Rob Kiernan replacing Harry Lennon at the back.

But, with 80 minutes on the clock, the hosts restored their two goal cushion with Harrison on target from the penalty spot.

Referee Lee Swabey pointed to the spot after adjudging Kiernan to have brought down Sean Raggett and Harrison made no mistake from 12 yards.

Portsmouth extended their lead in the 84th minute with Marcus Harness netting with a deflected effort from the right hand side of the penalty area to complete another miserable evening for Blues who are already facing a huge fight to stay up.