Robinson Rescues Pompey

By Jim Bonner
Last updated : 12 October 2014

Pompey's poor run of form continued as they could only manage a 1-1 draw against a patched up Mansfield side.

The first half was absolutely dreadful. Andy Awford's men looked devoid of any ideas and gifted the visitors a few chances which they really should have made more of. Rakish Bingham, in particular, looked a threat and had Mansfield had anyone capable of sticking the ball in the net, they would have scored before the break.

Pompey's performance during that half could be summed up when a miscommunication in midfield saw Michael Drennan and Jed Wallace go for the same ball and then ended up calamitously taking each other out.

That was the most entertaining part of the match in the first half although Matt Rhead endeared himself to the Fratton crowd with a late challenge on Johnny Ertl which sent the Pompey skipper crashing into the advertising barriers. The way his head bounced off the hoarding was sickening but thankfully he was OK. The challenge fully justified a yellow card for Rhead who was abused for the rest of the game.

Following the dross in the first half, the second began even worse for Pompey and they found themselves a goal downalmost immediately after the restart.

Simon Heslop was left unmarked on the edge of the box to strike the ball into the bottom corner of the net. Unfortunately there was no response from either the players or the manager as Mansfield had two good opportunities on the break to effectively end the match but thankfully Paul Jones was there to keep Pompey in it with a couple of good saves.

Awford had to do something and having witnessed the utter dross his team were producing for over an hour he brought on Nigel Atangana and Patrick Agyemang for the ineffective Drennan and sluggish Ertl.

That change instantly paid off as the lively Atangana cut the ball back for Paul Robinson in the centre of the box who managed to send the ball past Sacha Studer for the equaliser.

From then on it was Pompey doing all the pressing but only half-chances were created with Bingham having the best chance after the equaliser only for his tame shot to be saved by Jones.

There was to be no late winner for Portsmouth despite dominating possession late in the match and so the team had to settle for yet another disappointing draw which means Andy Awford's team have only won one game in their last eight although on the flipside, are unbeaten in five League games also.

Hopefully this rsult will see the end of the wing back system which really hasn't been paying dividends for a while. If a wing back system is going to be played then the wing backs have to be used effectively but this wasn't the case yesterday with Shorey wasteful and Wynter not looking up to the standard you would expect from a Premier League loanee.

As mentioned by various players and even Awford himself, it takes Pompey to go a goal down to start playing and that really shouldn't be the case, especially at home. A more attacking mentality has to be installed at Fratton Park where teams should fear coming down here rather than relish it.

The first step of that would be to deal with the blatant gamesmanship tha opposition teams employ when they play at Fratton Park. Newport, Wycombe and Mansfield have all been guilty of it and yet they've all taken results from our so-called "fortress" when they shouldn't have.

It simply marks the importance of starting on the front foot and putting teams under pressure from the start. After all, if Pompey score the first goal then the opposition wouldn't resort to the cheap time wasting tactics which do the job in frustrating the players and the crowd. It's something we have to live with being in League Two.

On a differnt note, it's laughable that some so-called "fans" are calling for Andy Awford's head already. Pompey may not be in a great run of form but are still only two points short of the play-offs and only eight from the top with 36 games still to play.

So long as Pompey are within touching distance of the top seven come January when the transfer window reopens then there is no reason why Awford can't go and make one or two signings which would make a huge difference to the squad. A goal poacher wouldn't go amiss with the current crop of forwards struggling to find the net.

However, there are a few tricky fixtures coming up with a trip to high-flying Bury up next. If Pompey end this month looking over their shoulders rather than up the table then perhaps Awford's job won't be so safe. After all, his record this season is only marginally better than Guy Whittingham's and that wasn't enough to save him when the goinggot tough.

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 7 - A few smart saves to keep Pompey in it.

Alex Wynter: 5 - Doesn't look up to it.

Paul Robinson: 7 - Scored the crucial goal.

Johnny Ertl: 5 - Struggled with Mansfield's physicality.

Joe Devera: 6 - Did a solid job.

Nicky Shorey: 6 - Played his part in equaliser but otherwise wasteful.

James Dunne: 7 - Got around the pitch well and got his foot in.

Danny Hollands: 6 - Needs to be played further forward.

Jed Wallace: 6 - Expected to do too much going forward.

Ryan Taylor: 5 - Made too many wrong decisions.

Michael Drennan: 4 - Awful by his own admission.

Substitutes

Michael Poke

Dan Butler

Nigel Atangana (Ertl 68): 7 - Changed the game and has to start the next match.

Ricky Holmes

Miles Storey (Taylor 85): N/A - Needs more time.

Craig Westcarr

Patrick Agyemang (Drennan 68): 6 - Linked up well with others.

Ricky Holmes

Portsmouth Match Reports

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