Tranmere Hit By Stunning Comeback

Last updated : 24 February 2015 By Jim Bonner

Pompey fans witnessed another dramatic match in the space of three days as Andy Awford's men came back from two goals down to win the game with less than 15 minutes left on the clock at Fratton Park.

It was a ridiculous end to what was a drab match that Portsmouth looked destined to lose despite a fairly bright start. Marc Laird had to clear Ryan Taylor's header off the line in the first minute whilst Josh Passley and Jed Wallace were finding plenty of joy down the right hand side.

But Pompey were hit by a suckerpunch when they were caught on the counter and Jennison Byrie-Williams fired the ball across Paul Jones to give Tranmere the lead.

Rovers then stifled the game with goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams resorting to some timewasting to frustrate the home crowd. Those frustrations turned to outright anger directed at referee Iain Williamson who penalised Pompey players for seemingly fair challenges, one of which was James Dunne who received a yellow card and will now be banned for the next two matches.

The second half began with an own goal of farcical proportions. Danny Holmes' cross should have been dealt with by Joe Devera on the line but some intervention from Kayode Odejayi saw the Pompey defender's clearance ricochet off the back of Jones and into the net.

Some Pompey fans were extremely angry with the referee who thought Odejayi had handled the ball. Looking at it in real time, I thought it was a handball but it'll be good to see a replay to clear the controversy, even if it is a moot point now.

It seemed like that goal would be a massive talking point at the end of the game as Pompey struggled to break down a typically organised Micky Adams side.

A couple of chances came as Wallace found Matt Tubbs but his shot was saved, whilst Dunne's strike was pushed away for a corner which Danny Hollands headed over.

With Andy Barcham already brought on for Devera, Andy Awford threw caution to the wind and brought on Craig Westcarr for Josh Passley. That move paid off almost immediately as the substitute headed in Tubbs' cross to pull a goal back on 76 minutes.

With time running out and a draw not being much good at this stage of the season, Awford opted to play Conor Chaplin as a fourth striker on the pitch and take Hollands off.

Pompey could sense that Tranmere were backing off and inviting pressure onto them and so continued to surge forward in search of an equaliser. It came when the Rovers defence couldn't deal with Dan Butler's ball into the box and Taylor was there to fire the ball home for the equaliser.

And just three minutes later the remarkable turnaround was complete. Butler crossed another delightful ball into the box and it found the head of every Pompey fan's favourite ginger who scored his second goal of the game to send Fratton Park absolutely mental!

Then came the prospect of defending a lead with four strikers on the pitch for the last five minutes and stoppage time. The task wasn't made easier by some soft free kicks being awarded by the referee but thankfully Pompey managed to see out the six minutes added time to complete a famous comeback and earn another three points in what has been an excellent month for Andy Awford.

Nobody could have seen that coming and there's no point in trying to analyse that performance. Pompey weren't all that bad at the back bar a couple of costly lapses in concentration but Jack Whatmough certainly stood out.

Going forward seemed to be a problem as Pompey lacked the fluency and ruthlessness of Saturday's showing and Tranmere seemed to have the attackers sussed out with their players doubling up on the more dangerous players in blue shirts, at least until Awford changed things and turned it around.

And he deserves a lot of credit for that. His reputation continues to rise after being extremely close to losing his job and the "feel good factor" is well and truly back at Portsmouth after three dramatic games. Pompey fans are now able to love football again and that's what it should really be about.

Tonight's incredible comeback result has seen Pompey climb to 13th in League Two and top of the form table having taken fourteen points from the last eighteen available. They are now nine points off the play-offs.

Maybe, just maybe...

Pompey Player Ratings

Paul Jones: 6 - Own goal not really his fault.

Josh Passley: 7 - Made some excellent runs forward. Hopefully his loan can be extended.

Jack Whatmough: 7 - Did well in his battle against Odejayi.

Paul Robinson: 7 - Some timely challenges.

Joe Devera: 4 - Had a bit of a mare.

Dan Butler: 7 - Has at least one assist to his name and has certainly improved from earlier in the season.

James Dunne: 6 - Wasn't allowed to boss the midfield like he did on Saturday.

Danny Hollands: 6 - A mixed evening.

Jed Wallace: 6 - Was snuffed out early on.

Matt Tubbs: 6 - Squandered a great chance but workrate was good.

Ryan Taylor: 8 - Had done little up until his brace, but nobody will care after tonight!


Michael Poke

Ben Chorley

Johnny Ertl

Nigel Atangana

Andy Barcham (Devera 56): 6 - Didn't really get forward given that he played at right back for a while.

Craig Westcarr (Passley 72): 7 - His goal was the catalyst.

Conor Chaplin (Hollands 79): N/A - Would be good to see him when there's less pressure on him and the team.