Pompey Hold Cherries In Thrilling Draw

Last updated : 24 July 2016 By Jim Bonner

Pompey stepped up their pre-season preparation up a gear as they held Premier League Bournemouth to an entertaining 3-3 draw in Alan McLoughlin's benefit match at Fratton Park.

Both teams showcased what they could do as Portsmouth played some enterprising football against the Cherries. Carl Baker and Gary Roberts were instrumental in Pompey's fluency going forward and the two combined to give the hosts the lead as Baker produced a sublime through-ball to Roberts who shook off a defender and struck the ball past Adam Federici.

The visitors equalised with a good goal of their own as neat passing move down the right led to Lewis Cook squaring the ball to Lewis Grabban who tapped the ball past Alex Bass. The critics would have pointed the finger at Christian Burgess for that goal as he was beaten too easily by Cook.

Pompey immediately responded as a hopeful long shot by Enda Stevens took a deflection and Michael Smith was sharp enough to beat the Bournemouth keeper to the ball to give his side the lead again as the first half provided more chances for both sides to score.

The second half was no different as Josh King had an early goal ruled out for offside but they did equalise when £15 million signing Jordan Ibe cut inside and slotted past substitute keeper Chris Konopka who probably should have done better instead of getting beaten at his near post.

It seemed like the Cherries would win the game after Paul Cook made various substitutions to dilute his side and without Michael Doyle to protect the back four, Eddie Howe's side carved out more opportunities and scored a third goal when Dan Gosling was left completely unmarked in the centre of the box to tap in Rhoys Wiggins's cross.

Pompey got a deserved share of the spoils thanks to a late goal from Adam May (and not Ben Tollitt as originally announced) although the ball took a couple of deflections en route to goal.

Overall, it was a very encouraging performance from Pompey in a game that likely won't be beaten for entertainment value during the actual season as no League Two team will come to Fratton Park and play the expansive football that Bournemouth did.

Breaking opponents down at home was a major struggle last season but Roberts already looks sharper than he did last year and Carl Baker looks a class above. If those two players can stay fit then one of Pompey's main problems in being stifled at home will have been solved.

However, the goalkeeping problem is yet to be resolved. Bass isn't ready and Konopka doesn't look up to it based on yesterday's performance. Ex-Doncaster keeper Thorsten Struckmann is the latest to be linked after he was released by Rovers so it wouldn't be surprising to see him sign soon.

On a final note, whilst Pompey's attacking play was excellent, some of their defending was not. The back four still lacks a leader and it's unlikely that someone in the Paul Robinson/Arjan De Zeeuw mould will be signed before the season starts. That simply means that Pompey cannot afford to lose Doyle for any length of time this season if clean sheets are to be kept.

Two friendlies remain before Carlisle come to Pompey on August 6th. Trips to Bognor and Bristol should see more adjustments to the squad before the real work begins.