Pompey Complete Chairboys Comeback

Pompey completed an unbeaten November after coming back from two goals down to earn a creditable draw at Adams Park yesterday.

Despite only one change being made from the side that thrashed York last Tuesday with Adam McGurk replacing Gareth Evans, the performance for the vast majority of the first half was light years away from the 6-0 showing at Fratton Park five days ago.

In fairness Wycombe were hardly playing like Barcelona themselves as the match began in a scrappy fashion with Pompey solid enough at the back but incapable of creating any attacks due to sloppy passing and being second to most 50/50 balls.

The opening goal is something younger fans might be familiar with if they were being thrashed at FIFA and therefore simply mess about by bringing the goalkeeper thirty yards out of his area only to concede the stupidest of goals.

Who knows what Brian Murphy was thinking when he decided to needlessly come racing out of his goal to clear a ball when the situation was under control? His botched clearance met the feet of a Wycombe midfielder who gave the ball to Michael Harriman and he wasted no time in lobbing the ball into an empty net. It was truly another horrible howler to add to Murphy's list of blunders.

Things went from bad to worse minutes later when a pass down the right caught the Pompey defence flat-footed which allowed Harriman to swing in a cross that was turned in by Garry Thompson who got in ahead of Christian Burgess.

Given the pattern of play the travelling fans knew it was going to take something monumental to get a result due to how poor their team was playing and Murphy went some way to redeeming himself when he saved a shot from Sam Wood which he really should have scored.

Paul Cook's men did wake up minutes before the interval and began to test the Wycombe defence but the goal they scored was similar to the hosts' second as one pass down the right split their defence open which allowed Marc McNulty a run on their goal. He unselfishly squared the ball for Caolan Lavery to tap the ball in despite attention from a defender and that goal ended up being crucial in revitalising Pompey's hopes of a result.

The visitors came out a completely different team in the second half and set about putting Wycombe under pressure from the start as Ben Davies' free kick was saved by Matt Ingram with the loose ball finally being cleared.

Then, a rarity from Portsmouth as they scored directly from a corner! Adam Webster was left completely unmarked in the box to power in a header past Ingram despite his best attempts to keep the ball out.

Pompey really began to turn the screw as some last-ditch defending from the Chairboys saw efforts from McGurk, Evans and Davies cleared whilst Kyle Bennett forced a save from Ingram from distance.

There were also a couple of penalty shouts that may have been given on another day with Webster and Burgess manhandled in the area, but referee Mark Haywood waved those claims away to the fury of the fans in the stand behind him.

He did (correctly) award a free kick right on the edge of the area when more cries for a spot kick emanated from the away end following a challenge on Lavery but Ingram was again equal to Davies' free kick in what was the final meaningful attack of the match.

Pompey fans left Adams Park with a feeling of relief given that their side managed to dig themselves out of a hole but with perhaps a tinge of regret that the second half pressure didn't result in all three points instead of just the one.

However, that is the price to be paid for such a terrible start which the whole team has to be accountable for but again, Murphy was hugely at fault for the opening goal just like he was against Macclesfield and the sooner Paul Jones is fit, the better.

Webster aso had a fairly starnge game. At times he looked solid and composed and he also scored but at other times he seemed completely ragged and was guilty of some unnecessary sliding challenges. The midfield were also outbattled too often with Bennett especially lightweight. This may have been the perfect game for Nigel Atangana to be involved in so why does Danny Hollands continue to get the nod?

Still, on the bright side, this team refuses to know when it has been beaten and the partnership between Lavery and McNulty continues to develop. Hopefully that can continue into what looks like a pivotal December with trips to Northampton and Leyton Orient during that month.

Yesterday's result may have seen Pompey drop a place to 5th in League Two but they still remain only six points behind the leaders which is good enough for this stage of the season.

Pompey Player Ratings

Brian Murphy: 5 - Costly error but did make one crucial save later on.

Ben Davies: 7 - Continues to be a threat whether directly or indirectly.

Adam Webster: 7 - Looked shaky at times but scored the all-important second goal.

Christian Burgess: 6 - Not at his best.

Enda Stevens: 5 - Caught out on a few occasions.

Michael Doyle: 6 - Not his usual self at the start.

Danny Hollands: 5 - Outbattled for most of the game until taken off at the break.

Adam McGurk: 6 - Grew into the game.

Marc McNulty: 7 - Unselfish and worked hard.

Kyle Bennett: 5 - Too lightweight for a game of this type.

Caolan Lavery: 7 - Scoring gave him confidence for second half.


Alex Bass

Matt Clarke

Adam Barton (Hollands 46): 7 - Injected some much needed quality in the midfield.

Gareth Evans (McGurk 67): 6 - Got involved.

Ben Tollitt (Bennett 89): N/A - Not enough time to make an impact.

Jayden Stockley