Welcome To League Two, Pompey

Last updated : 03 August 2013 By Jim Bonner

If any Portsmouth fan thought that League Two was going to be easy then today's result would have delivered a serious reality check after a 4-1 defeat to Oxford United.

The match started well enough. Pompey did all of the pressing with Jed Wallace shooting over the bar and Patrick Agyemang heading a corner over the bar but there was little to suggest that Oxford would pose any problems early on bar a volley from Andrew Whing that Alfie Potter almost got his head to at the far post.

Pompey deservedly took the lead when Johnny Ertl broke down a rare Oxford attack and gave the ball to Andy Barcham who did well to produce a wonderful cross for Agyemang to head the ball in after 25 minutes.

The Blues continued to play well up until the half hour but some slack defending let Oxford back in. Potter skinned Dan Butler and squared the ball for Dean Smalley who took a touch before firing past John Sullivan for the equaliser.

More bad defending on the other flank saw the Us take the lead. Yassin Moutaouakil was robbed of the ball by Sean Rigg and he cut it back for Potter who smashed the ball in from outside the box.

It was disappointing to go in at half-time behind but there would be no real response from Pompey as Oxford showed their hosts how to defend properly.

The task became even more difficult when Ertl was shown a straight red card by referee Gavin Ward for an apparent elbow. Some Pompey fans who claim to have seen the incident clearly believe the punishment was harsh but in truth Pompey never looked like getting back into the game with eleven men anyway.

But with their numerical advantage, Chris Wilder's men took full advantage of the extra space they had and scored again when Sullivan was disappointingly beaten at his near post by Potter after he ran unchallenged at the Pompey goal.

The fourth came when Potter's cross wasn't dealt with by Joe Devera and the ball fell to Smalley who stroked the ball home for his second of the match.

Oxford could have had more as they continued to create chances on the break and they hit the post. Pompey's best chance of the half came when Wallace's corner led to a goalmouth scramble but nothing came of it on a thoroughly disappointing day at Fratton Park.

The reason why it was so disappointing is probably because there were such high expectations going into this game and the atmosphere in the ground was brilliant before kick off and well into the first half. Everyone had been looking forward to this game so much that the performance and the result was a total anti-climax that will have dampened enthusiasm for the next game and maybe even the entire season.

But we shouldn't be getting too dramatic. After all, it's going to take time for this team to gel, especially at the back where the disorganisation, lack of communication and lack of leadership was painfully clear to see.

This is just the first of 46 games in a long season and to give Oxford credit they looked like a decent team. One positive from our point of view was that Dave Kitson didn't score.

And there is the positive that Pompey actually played well for 30 minutes by creating plenty of chances and not letting Oxford have a sniff at our goal. It's just a shame that it all went horribly wrong once the equaliser went in.

So, there is no need to be questioning Guy Whittingham's management skills or being such a drama queen that you'll claim you won't go to another game all season. We just have to dust ourselves down and get ready for the relegation six-pointer at Accrington next week.

Pompey Player Ratings

John Sullivan: 5 - Shouldn't have been beaten at his near post for the third but was left horribly exposed by his defence at times.

Yassin Moutaouakil: 4 - All at sea.

Sonny Bradley: 4 - Lacked any kind of organisation.

Joe Devera: 4 - Debut was full of errors.

Dan Butler: 4 - Given the runaround.

Jed Wallace: 6 - Worked hard as always.

Johnny Ertl: 5 - May have been unfortunate to have been sent off...

Simon Ferry: 6 - Full of energy.

Andy Barcham: 5 - One excellent cross but he was soon snuffed out by the Oxford defence.

Patrick Agyemang: 6 - Scored but not as influential as he could be.

David Connolly: 5 - Not really in the game.


Phil Smith

Danny East

Bondz N'Gala

Ricky Holmes (Butler 62): 5 - Never got a hold in the game.

Romain Padovani (Wallace 69): 5 - Didn't see much of the ball.

Tom Craddock (Agyemang 69): 5 - Missed a sitter late on.

Ryan Bird