Pompey Open 2014 With Cruel Defeat

Last updated : 01 January 2014 By Jim Bonner

Portsmouth's luck from 2013 hasn't changed after a last-gasp winner saw them fall to defeat at Roots Hall when they deserved so much more.

Unlike previous defeats this season where Pompey have generally deserved every loss they've had, this game was very much a different story as Richie Barker's men dominated the first half and spurned two great chances to score in the secnd only to be undone by two freak goals.

Richie Barker again deployed his 4-2-3-1 formation with Jack Whatmough playing in defensive midfield and Ryan Bird playing on the right of midfield, but Ashley Harris returned to the team once Ricky Holmes was substituted early with a head injury.

Daniel Bentley in the Southend goal was being kept busy early on as he had to tip over Marcos Painter's free kick and get down quickly to his right to stop Holmes' shot from going in. Jed Wallace also stung his palms with a drive as the visitors piled on the pressure.

That pressure eventually paid off as Harris' corner was finished nicely by Sonny Bradley to give Pompey a deserved lead. Bradley may have had a second had he not blasted over a corner after Wallace had forced yet another save from Bentley.

There was also a strong penalty appeal turned down when it seemed like one of the Southend players had handled the ball in the box but the claim was turned down by referee David Phillips.

It wasn't until the last minute of the first half when the Shrimpers got their undeserved equaliser as Ryan Leonard's long range strike took a huge deflection before flying past a helpless Trevor Carson.

The second half saw Southend improve with the conditions in their favour and the high balls into the box were causing some problems for Pompey, even if Carson wasn't really tested by any troublesome shots.

The match had become a battle against the conditions as well as the opposition but Pompey did have their chances. Wallace fired over the bar when teed up by Therry Racon and substitute Patrick Agyemang did well to hold the ball in the box and lay it off for Joe Devera who blasted the ball over the crossbar.

Wallace cursed his luck as he produced a cracking effort on goal from long range only to be denied by the crossbar yet again. He must be wondering if he is cursed.

In fact, the whole team must be wondering if they are cursed as their performance deserved a draw at least but in the last minute of stoppage time Leonard's 25-yard drive flew into the far corner of the net to break Pompey hearts and win the game for Southend, whose fans probably couldn't believe their luck on the day.

It's such a tough defeat to take because the performance was a vast improvement over the dire draw with Northampton and none of the players can be faulted for their efforts today.

Even those who have come under constant criticism this season could leave the pitch with their heads held high. Bird put in a shift and won the corner that led to the goal, Harris didn't look out of place when he came on whilst Devera, despite his miss, probably played the best game of his Portsmouth career so far.

Whatmough also looked comfortable in midfield alongside Racon and the defence were generally much better than in previous away games. The only real criticism that could be aimed at the team as a whole is that it failed to take their chances and perhaps Barker needs to add a new striker to the squad this month.

But there was nothing that could have been done about the conceded goals. Both were strikes from distance that Carson could do nothing about as they both had an element of luck about them. If I were Ryan Leonard I'd be buying a lottery ticket tomorrow, that's for sure.

As for Pompey, there were plenty of positives to take from this game and hopefully that result won't get the players down too much. If they can reproduce that same kind of performance against Accrington Stanley on Saturday then it won't be long before their fortunes finally change for the better.

Pompey Player Ratings

Trevor Carson: 6 - Could have been more commanding but dealt with conditions well.

Joe Devera: 7 - Best performance for Pompey so far.

Bondz N'Gala: 6 - Solid enough.

Sonny Bradley: 8 - Rock at the back and scored a good goal. Shame it counted for nothing.

Marcos Painter: 7 - Looked impressive.

Therry Racon: 7 - Looks settled in an anchorman role.

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Slotted in excellently, especially in the first half.

Ryan Bird: 6 - Worked hard.

Jed Wallace: 7 - Denied multiple times by Bentley and then the crossbar. So unlucky.

Ricky Holmes: N/A - Threatening until he went off.

David Connolly: 5 - Not really involved.


John Sullivan

Nick Awford

Johnny Ertl

Jack Maloney

Ashley Harris (Holmes 20): 6 - Looked bright.

Romain Padovani (Harris 82): N/A - No impact.

Patrick Agyemang (Connolly 69): 6 - Caused a few problems.