Fratton Fail #4
The Blues took to the pitch yesterday afternoon in glorious sunshine, only to play a game worthy of a dull, grey day. Opponents Yeovil, strugglers at the bottom of England's Football League could really only have prayed for their result.
It's the 4th time this season that Pompey have fallen flat at home against, to be honest, very average opposition. Yeovil join Morecambe (3-3), Accrington (0-0) and Exeter (1-2)in taking unexpected points at Fratton this season, much to the dismay of the Fratton Faitful.
Pompey began the game in their usual fashion- quickly and on top. The key thing for us at the moment is getting an early goal, something that seems impossible for us to find.
The Glovers from the off had camp set up in front of goal, a plan we know will be that of the majority of League 2 teams this season. Much like Exeter in midweek, the back 4 was solid and thoroughly knew their job.
From the first whistle, Pompey had the huge share of the ball that has become custom to the side this campaign. The passing was fluent and succinct, with little sign of giving up possession. However the first real chance of the game came when teenage defender Matt Clarke was dispossessed midway in Pompey's half. Harry Hornick then raced towards goal, but Christian Burgess reacted quickly and slid to block Hornick's shot from bothering Aaron McCarey.
That's a situation that's come about more times than Pompey would like recently- notably Danny Hollands lost the ball in a similar area on Tuesday night, only to be punished emphatically by Exeter.
Just 3 minutes later, Yeovil really scared the Fratton Faithful. Old boy Ryan Bird rose highest from a corner, only to see his low header well-parried by loanee goalkeeper McCarey.
Pompey's reaction was fair, as they began to make ground as the half weared on. Yet it was only until Michael Doyle volleyed through a sea of players after a corner, about a yard over the bar that Pompey threatened to find the net.
The paramount issue from the Exeter game was that crossing needed to be worked on. Kyle Bennett seemed to have done that after whipping several balls that kept the Town defence on their toes, as both he, Gareth Evans and Gary Roberts kept the back four guessing by ever-rotating positions.
But as the whistle for Half Time came, neither side could be particularly happy with their attacking prowess, but satisfied with their defiance at the back.
HALF TIME: 0-0
Cook made a needed switch at the interval, bringing in big-man Jayden Stockley in replace of the quiet Evans as Pompey went to 4-4-2.
Not much came of the sub, until around an hour in when Pompey's possession of the ball finally looked to pay off when Ben Davies swung in a ball from the right, only for it to seemingly drop past Stockley and the gaping net.
As we hit the last 25 minutes, Pompey were up against 11 opposition players, camped in the last 2/3 of their half. The Blues retained their possession (71% in the match), but finding gaps in the tight and coordinated Yeovil defence seemed impossible.
Cook brought on Danny Hollands on 70 minutes as the home side looked for that penetrating final ball. It was all Pompey from then on in, but still no clear chances could be carved.
As all 17,309 supporters in the ground tried to inspire their team to the results they both desired, frustration began to creep into both the Fratton Faithful, and their team. This was only enhanced when Pompey had a flurry of three big shots blocked in a row, as the Glovers' defence desperately tried to find row Z.
Fratton did jump out of their seats when they thought skipper Michael Doyle had found a winner after he let fly from 35 yards, only to see Artur Krysiak put two strong hands behind the ball to give Pompey another corner.
Crosses kept flying in and it seemed like corner practice as we ticked over into injury time, late substitute Conor Chaplin doing his respective best to fire Pompey to three points. But it was one of those games- Pompey weren't going to find the net and 0-0 was the match's destiny.
FULL TIME: 0-0
Consequence of Pompey's draw, we drop to 4th, but remain just 3 points of new-leaders Plymouth, of whom Pompey have already beaten. After picking up their unexpected point, Yeovil remain one place outside the relegation zone at 3rd bottom, but will take hope in that their stuttering counterparts could easily be defeated at Fratton Park this season.
But as Burgess has been all season thus far, his performance was strong, safe and it kept goals out. I think both Burgess and his centre-back partner Matt Clarke have been largely overlooked and under-rated this season. They do their job well, remain calm on the ball and look like a defensive duo that have played together for years.
Burgess, you're Man of the Match. Shame you couldn't grab a goal.