Pompey 1 Accrington Stanley 1
Pompey’s regular season ended with a rather drab draw with a dogged Accrington side. Despite the five changes Kenny made to the starting line-up Pompey lacked energy throughout and the dropped points meant that Pompey dropped to fourth and face Sunderland in the play-off semi-finals.
In recent weeks there had been talk about avoiding Charlton and finishing third to face Doncaster over two legs. But Charlton are the form side going into the season’s finale and with their 4-0 win over Rochdale their goal difference was improved to such an extent that they edged past Pompey into third place. Sunderland meanwhile conceded a late winner to Southend and finish with four winless games.
There is little doubt that the EFL Trophy run by both Pompey and the Black Cats has sapped the energy from both sides and a betting man would fancy Charlton to grab the final promotion spot.
The five changes Jackett made were at right back where Anton Walkes came in for Nathan Thompson and the entire front four with Gareth Evans, Bryn Morris, Viv Solomon-Otabor and Oli Hawkins coming in.
Morris operating in the number ten slot looked lost and seemed to want to play his box to box style more suited to a 4-4-2 formation. He was withdrawn at half time and replaced by Ronan Curtis who went wide right and Evans returned to his favoured position only himself to be replaced by Brett Pitman. Kenny changed everything he could but there was no spark.
The visitors took the lead straight from the second half kick off with Craig MacGillivray left helpless by McConville’s strike. The equalised came when Ben Close exchanged passes with Hawkins and burst into the area before beating the keeper at the near post. Close later crashed a shot against the angle of post and crossbar.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): MacGillivray; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Brown; Naylor, Close; Evans (c) (Pitman 74), Morris (Curtis 46), Solomon-Otabor; Hawkins (Bogle 60)
Goals: Close 59
Subs not used: Bass, Thompson, Haunstrup, Vaughan
Referee: Scott Duncan
Attendance: 18,439 (241 away fans)
The Blues boss told the official site: “We’ve lacked energy at times in recent weeks and it was an emotional night on Tuesday, so we needed to freshen things up. Jamal looked very fatigued and he’s a big player for us, so this little break will do him good ahead of next weekend.
“The play-offs are a big opportunity for us and I’m looking forward to it. It’s a cup competition now and different from the league format. We have to make sure we keep clean sheets because we haven’t had enough of them at home all season, which is up to the back four and keeper to organise. The lines have blurred a bit in recent weeks and we’ve become too open at the back, without delivering through our front players.”
“There were a couple of big chances in the first half, with headers from McConville and Burgess. But we picked up a head of steam after the break and Ben’s effort against the crossbar was excellent, while a couple other balls didn’t quite fall for Brett. Ronan put in some great deliveries and it was a lively performance from Solomon-Otabor on the left, so there were a lot of positives.
“We couldn’t quite get the flow that we wanted throughout the game, but it’s 88 points for the season and we can’t really complain about that. It’s a very high standard and now we have to focus on the play-offs, which are always unpredictable games.”
Final day titbits
The last day of Leagues One and Two saw a few highlights (and lowlights).
Sol Campbell’s Macclesfield Town saved themselves meaning Notts County the world oldest professional club fell out of the league after 131 years. They were one of the twelve original members back in 1888. Matt Taylor came on as a sub in the Swindon win over County played his final league game.
MK Dons grabbed the final automatic promotion spot with Mansfield Town, Forest Green Rovers, Tranmere Rovers and Newport County contesting the play-offs.
In League One Luton Town are the Champions after beating Oxford 3-1. Barnsley slipped up though at Bristol Rovers down to ten men at the end of the first half they conceded the winner deep into injury time. Plymouth Argyle, Walsall and Scunthorpe United joined Bradford City in League Two.
Doncaster Rovers beat Coventry City 2-0 with a goal in each half.
The play-off dates and times are –
Sunderland v Pompey Saturday 11 May – kick off 19:30
Pompey v Sunderland 16 May – kick off 19:45
Both games will be shown live on Sky Sports.
What a let down
This has been a season Pompey fans should be proud of with the EFL Trophy win at Wembley in front of a record crowd as the highlight.
But in the last week, two fans, in particular, have let the club down. Firstly, a flare was thrown into a Sunderland family section and then on Tuesday Posh striker Ivan Toney was subjected to online racial abuse. Both matters are in the hands of the police and hopefully, the perpetrators will receive justice.
Vital Pompey revival
All Vital Pompey members will have received an email in the week asking them to give the forum support and try to resurrect the great family that it once was.
Since then several old names have reappeared which is great to see but in fairness, the move seems to be towards social media when it comes to chatting about the club – most of which tbh is garbage!
One long time member Cornypomp has promised to dig out some old stuff from his steam driven laptop for us all to share. I, in turn, will reproduce some of that here in Chimes.
And finally… postie
Pacific FC striker Marcus Haber tried valiantly to beat the post in the Canadian Premier League this week, but the post stood firm, denying him the chance to put his team in front (they lost 2-1).