Ten Man Pompey Complete Incredible Comeback

Last updated : 23 August 2015 By Jim Bonner

Yesterday's match at Fratton Park will be one not to be forgotten as Pompey managed to come back from 3-0 down against Morecambe to earn a draw with a stoppage time goal despite having to play over twenty minutes with ten men.

Many Pompey fans would have thought this match would be a straightforward victory just like previous encounters with the Shrimps and that looked like it may happen as Paul Cook's men dominated possession and looked to test Barry Roche in the Morecambe goal.

Pompey should have scored after ten minutes as Matt Tubbs rose to head in a corner only to guide the ball well wide of the target. Christian Burgess could have scored with the following loose ball if he had been more alert but before we knew it Morecambe had broken down the other end of the pitch and Tom Barkhuizen evaded Ben Davies' challenge before firing the ball past Brian Murphy.

The home side attempted to get back into the game but their passing was sluggish and Morecambe were doing an excellent job of winning the ball back and looking to suckerpunch Pompey again as they poured forward.

And that body blow did come as the visitors won a corner and Adam Goodall was left unmarked to score a free header after just 25 minutes despite two Pompey players tracking him.

Morecambe could have extended their lead further as Aaron Wildig's attempted lob bounced off the crossbar and he then dragged a shot wide as Pompey's brittleness on the break was there for all to see.

Roche was tested with a couple of routine saves and then was booked for time wasting as the home supporters began to vent their frustration at Jim Bentley's tactics.

Those frustrations soon turned to shock as Morecambe bagged a third goal on the counter-attack as a Jamie Devitt cross to the far post was tapped in at close range by Andy Fleming to send the 69 travelling fans into dreamland.

The feeling around Fratton Park was a strange one as despite being three goals down after 38 minutes there was a sense that if Pompey could score then a comeback might be on. After all, this team had put three past Dagenham two weeks prior and those goals all came in the second half.

And in Gary Roberts Portsmouth possess a player who can make things happen. He was brought down outside the box late into the first half and punished Morecambe by curling in the resulting free kick (that Roche probably should have saved) to restore some hope to just under 16,000 home supporters.

The second half began as you would have expected with Pompey on the front foot and Morecambe happy to sit back and attempt to counter-attack but there weren't any shots on target early on with both Kyle Bennett and Nigel Atangana blazing efforts over the bar.

The deficit was reduced thanks to an excellent solo effort from Roberts who cut inside from the right and beat two defenders before lashing the ball into the far corner of the net to give Pompey fans real hope of a result with 25 minutes remaining.

That hope diminished when Enda Stevens was sent off for a second bookable offence. Paul Cook said it wasn't malicious but it looked like a foul worthy of a yellow card and so Pompey had to try and find another goal with ten men.

The Pompey manager's response was to substitute Davies for Adam Webster with Jayden Stockley already on earlier for the ineffective Tubbs as the hosts played a 3-5-1 formation for the rest of the game.

Pompey surged forward in search of an equaliser with Adam McGurk heading wide from Bennett's cross and the latter had the perfect opportunity to shoot when in the box soon after but decided to take an extra touch and get crowded out, much to the home fans' frustration.

It seemed like it wasn't going to be Pompey's day when Matt Clarke's header hit the crossbar and Webster and Stockley headed crosses over the bar. When a penalty claim for handball was waved away in stoppage time it looked like Morecambe would escape with three points.

However, Cook's ten men kept going and finally got their equaliser in the 95th minute when Webster's cross was met by the diving head of Stockley to salvage a draw for Pompey and complete a remarkable comeback, much to the delight of the delirious Fratton Park crowd.

Pompey fans and staff would have learned plenty about their team after that heart-pounding encounter and Cook himself admitted that the attitude of his players wasn't right in the first half and they didn't show Morecambe the respect they deserved and so duly got punished for it.

The defending from certain individuals was woeful in the first half, however. Davies was beaten too easily for the first and third goals, Atangana may have played well in midfield but didn't track his man properly for the second and third goals whilst as a unit they were far too naive and made it easy for Morecambe to counter-attack when they sensed the chance.

Having said that, the first Shrimps goal came from a woeful header from Tubbs who still doesn't look comfortable or effective in the 4-2-3-1 formation. The finishing still needs sharpening up from everyone in general given the amount of chances that were eventually created in the second half, but some of the approach play was poor with Gareth Evans and Bennett frustrating in their attempts to do anything productive.

Still, it's difficult to be too harsh on a team that managed to pull a result out of the bag when it looked extremely unlikely and it shows that this group of players has the character and the ability to produce fight backs in adversity which can only be a good thing even if many will say that yesterday's result is two points dropped on the face of it.

But it's important to remember that this current Portsmouth team is a work-in-progress and there will be tweaks to the current play style and maybe one or two extra players before the transfer window closes on September 2nd.

At least Pompey fans can say they had their money's worth yesterday!

Pompey Player Ratings

Brian Murphy: 5 - You wonder is a goalkeeper of greater stature would have saved the first goal but otherwise he was let down by his defence.

Ben Davies: 4 - At fault for two of the goals and you wonder if he may have been rushed back too quickly after his hamstring injury.

Christian Burgess: 5 - A couple of key interceptions but lacked any organisation.

Matt Clarke: 5 - Out of sorts and very nearly made a terrible individual error in the second half although won the ball back in the end.

Enda Stevens: 4 - Can't really complain about the sending off.

Michael Doyle: 7 - A key man in Pompey's pressing game in the second half.

Nigel Atangana: 6 - Saw the best and worst of him in each half.

Gareth Evans: 5 - Worked hard but had little up front.

Gary Roberts: 9 - Outstanding and galvanised the rest of the team with his two goals.

Kyle Bennett: 4 - Very frustrating.

Matt Tubbs: 5 - Needs more service but also needs to make more of the chances he gets.


Paul Jones

Brandan Haunstrup

Adam Webster (Davies 74): 7 - Excellent when he came on and got an assist for the equaliser.

Danny Hollands

Conor Chaplin

Adam McGurk (Evans 79): N/A - Added some attacking impetus late on but should have scored.

Jayden Stockley (Tubbs 70): 8 - Bagged the late goal and always looked dangerous.