Pompey Stagger To Draw At Mansfield

Last updated : 25 August 2013 By Jim Bonner

Pompey failed to hold onto a lead for the second away game in a row in a frustrating game at Field Mill.

It had looked promising from the start as the visitors played the better football but couldn't make their pressure or numerous corner kicks count. Mansfield's sole tactic was to hoof the ball upfield and it eventually started to work as Pompey's defence struggled to contain the physical presence of Mansfield's front line.

The hosts really should have taken the lead when James Jennings was found inside the six yard box but he could only scuff his shot straight at Phil Smith.

The warning signs were there and the Stags did take the lead soon after courtesy of a goal similar to the first at Accrington a fortnight ago. Joe Devera could have headed a long ball straight back to Smith but decided to head it straight back into danger and nobody closed down Ben Hutchinson who unleashed a 30-yard-screamer over Smith and into the top corner of the net.

That sparked Pompey into action and it wasn't long before the equaliser came. Some good build up play led to Jed Wallace squaring the ball for Andy Barcham who rifled the ball into the roof of the net.

Whittingham's men were now in control with the Mansfield defence really struggling to contain Barcham. The winger surged up the pitch and dodged a couple of challenges before firing the ball at keeper Alan Marriott. He could only parry the ball into the path of David Connolly who poached a second goal for Pompey.

Portsmouth continued to threaten after the break as Connolly's free kick sailed high over the bar to chants of "Quashie!" and "Scummer!" but the Irishman had another good chance soon after as he turned in the box and struck the ball over.

Mansfield switched their formation from 3-5-2 to match Pompey's 4-4-2 and it worked, although some comedy defending gifted them the equaliser.

Smith and Bondz N'Gala collided as a long ball sailed into the box and that allowed Lindon Meikle to strike in the equaliser. The hosts went on to take control of the match with Ollie Palmer volleying narrowly wide and John Dempster sending a free header over the bar from six yards.

Smith's apparent time wasting late on was an insight into Pompey's mentality as they held on for a draw in the end and that was certainly a fair result on balance of play.

When analysing this performance it is understandable to see why Guy decided to play N'Gala alongside Sonny Bradley in the centre to deal with Mansfield's "direct" style of play. But that meant Devera had to play at right back and he looked uncomfortable there, making errors which eventually led to the home team's opener.

It seems like Whittingham doesn't know how to react when the opposition changes. On the opening day Oxford took control when Dave Kitson was moved into midfield to cut off Pompey's creativity and this week there was no tactical response to when Mansfield matched Pompey's 4-4-2 formation and dominated the rest of the game.

Johnny Ertl was introduced late in the game but that didn't change proceedings as Mansfield continued to pump long balls into the box from every angle.

And if resorting to lumping long balls to Ryan Bird is Pompey's only alternative way of attacking when Patrick Agyemang is tired then we're going to struggle late on in any game where we don't hold a comfortable lead.

There also seems to be a problem with Pompey's mentality judging from the first two away games. When we've got the lead the team start to retreat and allow the opposition to have more of the ball. I believe that attack is the best form of defence with this team and any side with serious promotion credentials would be looking to finish the other team off rather than hold onto what they have.

Still, on the positive side a point away to a side that rarely tastes defeat at home is not a terrible result despite having lost the lead. If the match had carried on for much longer there was a feeling that Mansfield would have snatched a winner as the Blues never looked like scoring once the equaliser went in.

On a side note, it made me laugh before the game when both sets of fans started singing the songs of their rivals. Perhaps the irony is lost on some Pompey fans given that Chesterfield are the next team to visit Fratton Park and that will be a true test of the quality and mentality of this Portsmouth team.

Pompey Player Ratings

Phil Smith: 5 - Calamitous error for the second goal.

Joe Devera: 5 - Looked uncomfortable at right back.

Sonny Bradley: 7 - Continues to impress.

Bondz N'Gala: 5 - Takes his share of the blame for second goal.

Marcos Painter: 6 - Solid showing.

Jed Wallace: 5 - Frustrating performance.

Simon Ferry: 5 - Struggled with the physical side of the game.

Romain Padovani: 6 - Blew hot and cold.

Andy Barcham: 8 - Outstanding first half but subdued in the second.

Patrick Agyemang: 6 - Worked hard but Mansfield defence dealt with him.

David Connolly: 7 - Clever as always and deserved better service.


John Sullivan

Yassin Moutaouakil (Painter 75): N/A - On due to injury to Marcos.

Dan Butler

Danny East

Johnny Ertl (Padovani 67): 5 - Never really settled.

Ricky Holmes

Ryan Bird (Agyemang 81): N/A - Had no effect.