Pompey rise to first real test
So far this season it's pretty much gone Pompey's way, two good wins in the first two league matches, and a decent enough draw at Crawley who decided to play for a draw from the off.
Morecambe to their credit, decided to make a real go of it, and how close they came to taking all three points, three points that almost everyone thought would be Pompey's.
Maybe this was in the back of the boys in blue's minds as well, at they let Morecambe storm into a three goal lead within 38 minutes, the crowd were shell shocked to put it mildly, Pompey had looked so impressive so far this season, but we're getting their trousers pulled down by a quick breaking, efficient , Morecambe side.
Pompey sprang the first surprise by naming the same team for the fourth game straight, Ben Davies recovering from his hamstring tweak midweek.
Pompey as expected made all the early running, Roberts' cross just too high for Tubbs, in the first minute. Tellingly the ref gave his first warning for time wasting within 3 minutes, a tactic which would ultimately bite the shrimps on the arse in added on time.
Stevens broke into the box down the left and it was his attempt that gave us a corner, one which lead to a goal, at the wrong end. Tubbs had a header blocked from the dead ball, Burgess was crowded out and the ball was cleared as far as Barkhuizen, with Stevens and Burgess well out of position, he burst clear of Doyle who was left floundering, then he got a bit of a lucky break as Davies' attempted tackle fell back into his path, his finish though left Murphy no chance , inside 11 minutes and Pompey were down at home, certainly not in the script.
Pompey responded by again bombing forward, Atangana carrying the ball as often as he could and Bennett and Roberts looking to shoot at every opportunity.
Burgess gave away a free kick within shooting range, collecting a card for the challenge, the shot came in, Murphy parried and Morecambe had a corner.
Debit, who was having a fine game, crossed and Goodall went full length to nod home, only 25 minutes played and Pompey looked found out and flustered.
Surely Pompey would be stung into action now against the upstarts from the North- west? Well no, it was to get worse, again Pompey fired in a few shots, Roche in the shrimps goal was by no means having a quiet game, but Wildig almost made it three, his lovely chip had Murphy scrambling and it was the crossbar that saved the blues.
Davies the sent in another cross that Tubbs could not quiet get high enough for, his header glancing wide.
Devitt again was given too much space by Stevens who was really off the pace, his good cross was met by the outstretched boot of Fleming, the 60 or so Morecambe fans were in ecstasy.
Pompey were facing the first real test of character this season, they were getting a pasting at home and it was one they thoroughly deserved too, the lifeline came just before half time, Roberts was flattened and curled home the resulting free kick to at least give Pompey a foothold.
The second half was almost one way traffic, Pompey had obviously had a rocket from Cook in the interval, the possession stats were swaying heavily in Pompey's favour, Morecambe were happy to defend their two goal advantage as you would expect, each throw took a little longer, each goal kick was carefully placed.
Davies had a decent pop well blocked in the area and then Tubbs almost got in, Dugdale just denying him with a flying lunge.
Roberts was again the go-to man for Pompey, he popped up on the right, shimmied inside a curled in a lovely finish inside the post, Pompey were starting to believe again.
Stockley replaced Tubbs on 70 minutes, the latter had not scored but had certainly made space for others in the lone role upfront, constantly on the move dragging defenders around.
The Pompey response was made that bit harder shortly after Stockley's introduction, Enda Stevens getting a second yellow after an aerial clash with McGowan.
The card did little to disrupt Pompey however, the blue tide still flowed toward the Milton end, McGurk who was on for Evans missed a great chance to level, he met Roberts cross with his head but glanced wide when he really should of scored. Clarke was another close to the breakthrough, his downward header looking like bouncing in, but Roche did enough to palm over the top.
Stockley had an angled shot well saved, then Webster nodded over when well placed.
Time was running out, but Morecambes time wasting, more head injuries than an average A&E department sees in a week, saw 6 minutes added on, it was in the fifth of these minutes that saw the equaliser arrive, Webster sent in a beautiful cross from the right, Stockley met the ball with a Hironesque flying header and the unbeaten start was intact for another week at least.
This season will no doubt have comparisons to our last promotion push in 2003, if we are to be successful, this result reminded me of the away win at Crystal Palace, Pompey then recovering from a two nil deficit to win 3-2.