Chaplin Rescues Pompey

Conor Chaplin's late screamer prevented Pompey from falling to defeat to Barnet in a truly dire game of football at The Hive yesterday.

For 88 minutes, Pompey fans were forced to sit through an abysmal display from Paul Cook's men reminiscent of last season's woeful performance on the same ground.

Thankfully, "El Salvador" Chaplin produced a late moment of quality by taking the ball past a Bees player before rifling the ball into the top corner of the net past a helpless Josh Vickers.

Seven minutes earlier, referee Mark Brown had awarded the hosts one of many soft free kicks in their favour during the match and Mauro Vilhete curled it into the net with David Forde rooted to his line like a statue.

The much-maligned Pompey keeper had made a smart stop to deny Curtis Nelson in the first half but he must shoulder the blame for conceding such a soft goal, even if he saw the ball late.

The match itself isn't worth the effort of typing too many words to describe it. There was one good move from the visitors in the first half which led to Eoin Doyle's wayward header from a Gary Roberts cross but in truth, this was one of Pompey's worst performances of the season from an attacking perspective.

Whilst the defence did well to shackle John Akinde and co. they constantly hoofed the ball aimlessly back to a Barnet player and when the midfield did grasp possession, they weren't able to muster an attack and were often harried into making a mistake. That simply isn't good enough for the supposed calibre of attacking player in the Portsmouth squad.

Even the usually dependant duo of Michael Doyle and Amine Linganzi found themselves wanting as they struggled to take the game to a Barnet team who dictated play and closed down the Pompey players at every opportunity.

Cook claimed afterwards that a draw was a fair result but many would disagree with him. Chaplin's late stunner bailed him out of what would have been just criticism had his team been deservedly beaten on the day.

The first half was an eyesore and whilst he changed things up after the break, it would have taken a keen eye to spot what kind of formation Pompey were playing and the clueless players didn't seem to know themselves by the way they were playing. They were two minutes away from being booed off with the usual social media meltdown to follow.

This piece may seem like it's getting too negative, so to put a positive slant on things, a draw away to a team pushing for the play-offs in a match where Pompey looked like getting nothing cannot be sniffed at.

Next Saturday's crunch game with Carlisle will also be a completely different type of game as the Cumbrians like to play football and their team isn't littered with towering, physical players. Therefore, it would be stupid to make a prediction on next Saturday's result using yesterday's performance as basis.

Looking ahead to that match, Carlisle's win yesterday means they are now six points ahead of Pompey having played an extra game. It looks like only a win will do at Brunton Park next weekend but a defeat will almost certainly end any challenge for automatic promotion. 

Let's just hope that game is at least a more entertaining affair than the dross on display yesterday.

Pompey Player Ratings

David Forde: 4 - Should have at least attempted to save Vilhete's free kick.

Gareth Evans: 6 - No frills performance.

Christian Burgess: 7 - Shackled Akinde but resorted to too many aimless long balls.

Matt Clarke: 7 - Ditto Burgess.

Enda Stevens: 7 - Did a good job defensively.

Michael Doyle: 5 - Outbattled for much of the match and maybe needs a break.

Amine Linganzi: 6 - A mixed afternoon.

Jamal Lowe: 4 - Wasn't in the game.

Gary Roberts: 5 - One decent cross in an otherwise quiet performance.

Kyle Bennett: 4 - Simply didn't deliver.

Eoin Doyle: 5 - Ran a lot but was starved of service.


Liam O'Brien

Tom Davies

Danny Rose (Lowe 46): 5 - Changed nothing.

Carl Baker (Roberts 80): N/A - No time to make an impact.

Kal Naismith

Conor Chaplin (Bennett 46): 8 - Lively and a superb strike to snatch an unlikely point.

Noel Hunt