Pompey Frustrated By Robins. Again.

Last updated : 17 March 2015 By Jim Bonner

Pompey were left to rue the absence of Paul Robinson as two poorly conceded goals meant they could only manage a 2-2 draw with lowly Cheltenham at Fratton Park.

David Cornell, signed on loan from Swansea today, took his place on the bench as cover for the injured Michael Poke whilst Adam Webster replaced Robinson at the back.

Pompey started the game well with Ryan Taylor showing his new found confidence by turning a defender and firing wide of the post but the goal didn't take too long to come after that.

Some excellent work from Andy Barcham down the right saw him beat his man and provide a cross into the box for Matt Tubbs to tap the ball past Trevor Carson on the 17th minute.

However, a lack of concentration from the restart saw Cheltenham level with the most basic of goals as a long ball was won in the box by Shaun Harrad for an unmarked Eliot Richards to blast the ball into the corner.

And the match was turned completely on its head when another long ball sailed into the box as Paul Jones hesistated to claim it, leaving Will Packwood free to head the Robins into the lead.

Despite that setback, Pompey hadn't been playing too badly and saw plenty of the ball going forward without really testing the returning Carson.

It took a set-piece to level the score just before half-time as Taylor headed in Dan Butler's free kick at the far post.

The second half was a far less open affair with the best chance for the hosts coming right at the start when Carson produced a great reflex save to stop Tubbs' shot finding the top corner of the net.

There were other half-chances for Pompey but they struggled to break down a Cheltenham defence which got more stubborn as the match wore on. Awford did try to change things by bringing on Wes Fogden and Paul McCallum as his side switched to a 4-4-2 but to no avail.

Cheltenham were happy to play for a draw as their tedious time-wasting tactics proved late on and Pompey finished the match with ten men after Jack Whatmough went off with what looked like a nasty knee injury after a collission with Harrad as Awford had used all three substitutes.

Despite the five minutes of added time, there was no winner to be found and Pompey fans had to settle for a frustrating and disappointing result against a team which now find themselves 23rd in League Two.

It just goes to show how important Robinson is to this team. Had he been playing, it would have been likely that the defence would have kept their concentration after Pompey scored their first goal and he would have taken command when the long free kick came into the box regardless of what Jones had in mind.

Webster doesn't look like he can cut it at league level and the defence lacks leadership. Awford must make signing a commanding centre half his top priority in the summer as the back line is far too disorganised without a player in that mould who can also deal with long balls.

What's even more frustrating is that a win would have seen Pompey make even more ground up on the top seven and would now be only six points off the play-offs rather than eight.

It's not really good enough but failure to beat the second-worst team in the Football League at home is only one of many reasons why Portsmouth will be staying in League Two next season.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 5 - Indecisive and kicking was poor once again.

Andy Barcham: 7 - Got plenty of joy down the right. Shame he had to come off with injury at half-time.

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Impressive display but now looks like he'll be missing with injury for a while too.

Joe Devera: 5 - Sluggish showing.

Adam Webster: 5 - Struggled in the first half.

Dan Butler: 5 - Didn't go forward as often as he should have and passing was off.

James Dunne: 6 - Not quite as effective as usual.

Danny Hollands: 7 - Kept things ticking.

Jed Wallace: 6 - Not as influential as he can be.

Ryan Taylor: 7 - Was a handful for the Cheltenham defence but faded late on.

Matt Tubbs: 7 - Bagged a goal and general play was good.


David Cornell

Danny East (Barcham 46): 6 - Average.

Johnny Ertl

Nigel Atangana

Wes Fogden (Webster 68): N/A - Never made much difference.

Conor Chaplin

Paul McCallum (Dunne 86): N/A - Arrived too late to make an impact.