An Opportunity Missed

Last updated : 08 March 2015 By Jim Bonner

Pompey were frustrated by Accrington Stanley at the Crown Ground yesterday after the hosts were reduced to ten men in the second half.

The first half was an entertaining affair with Accrington taking the lead thanks to a free kick from Josh Windass after James Dunne had brought down Kal Naismith.

It didn't take long for Pompey to equalise as goalkeeper Scott Davies flapped at Dan Butler's cross which left Ryan Taylor to head the ball home.

Stanley were then guilty of two major misses as Andy Procter fired wide from close range and Windass couldn't convert Piero Mingoia's cross from the centre of the box.

The woodwork would deny Pompey a goal with Butler's free kick smashing the crossbar as the half finished all square.

Pompey's big chance to win the match came when Anthony Barry was give a straight red card for a challenge on Danny Hollands. On second viewing, there was no intent to harm Hollands and the challenge looked worse than it was and perhaps can consider himself a little unlucky to have been dismissed.

However, Andy Awford's men struggled to break down the ten men of Stanley with only a couple of real chances coming their way. The closest they came to a winner was at the death when Wallace struck the crossbar with a strike from distance, but the final whistle blew after that and it was only a point for Pompey.

A disappointing result, you would have to say given the quality of the opposition and the fact they were down to ten men for most of the second half. Many who went suggest that Awford refused to "go for it" when Pompey had a numerical advantage and he still harbours fears of losing even though his team are virtually safe from relegation.

Having said that, he did make three attacking changes but Wes Fogden, Andy Barcham and Craig Westcarr couldn't turn the match in Pompey's favour. Having said that, the first two only had twenty minutes to make an impact on the game and the latter just eleven minutes plus stoppage time.

There have been many criticisms levelled at Awford this season but one of the most common ones seems to be that he doesn't change things quickly enough and he isn't a reactive manager.

An experienced manager would likely have looked at the game when Accrington went a man down and given it ten minutes. If nothing had changed he would have brought on the extra firepower and probably changed the formation to a more positive one to pin Stanley in their own half.

Of course, there was always the danger that Pompey could get suckerpunched on the break but that's a risk Awford should have taken. The difference between drawing and losing would have been minimal in the context of Portsmouth's season as one point does little for the club's prospects at this stage of the campaign.

The result itself ends any lingering hopes of sneaking into the play-offs as Pompey are now in 14th place in League Two and ten points off the top seven with only eleven games to go.

The season is now going to meander into a boring conclusion and ultimately end in disappointment. The only thing Awford has to play for now is his future, as a poor end to the season may just make the board believe that they need someone more qualified to take this club forward next season when there are no excuses for not winning promotion.