Pompey 2 Doncaster Rovers 2
Certainly was a strange afternoon at Fratton Park yesterday as the game started with the home team frustrating their fans and ended with those fans standing to roar their side home to a point against all odds.
Pompey with Stephen Henderson and Anton Walkes making their debuts which both will remember started poorly and found themselves a goal down in four minutes when James Coppinger now thirty-seven was allowed to squeeze a shot under the keeper.
It too Pompey sometime to wake from their slumbers and when they did it was Matty Kennedy that led the charge making constant runs down the left and hot a number of telling crosses aimed at Oli Hawkins head. The equaliser though came from a Gareth Evans corner as Matt Clarke and Walkes challenged for the ball and in the scramble the Spurs loanee notched a debut goal.
As the half wore on Pompey should have taken the lead and Lawlor made on superb save keeping out a Clarke header from a Dion Donohue corner. On the stroke of half time Donohue was booked for a late lunge and in the ensuing melee both Christian Burgess and John Marquis were shown yellow cards.
The second period saw Pompey on top and keeper Lawlor again working hard to keep Doncaster level but after Brett Pitman had replaced Hawkins they lost concentration. A Coppinger corner was headed home by an unmarked Marquis to score against his former club something he has a habit of doing.
Jackett made two more changes replacing Kennedy who had faded with Kal Naismith and Evans with Jamal Lowe. This meant he had used all three substitutes something he had said in the week he did not like to do.
The second leveller came again from a corner when Pitman bundled home Donohue`s cross.
It was then that the drama really started when Hendo scuffed a goal kick and went down writhing in agony hammering his fists into the Fratton turf. After lengthy treatment he limped off and Naismith had to don the green jersey. That raised Rovers who sensed a chance to grab a winner but the Pompey crowd often referred to as the 12th man came to the rescue. They would not let their team lose and while Jose Mourinho was waxing lyrically about the Fratton faithful, 200 miles south they were making his point for him.
They stood to a man and raised the roof and their players responded but with still four minutes of injury time remaining Burgess got a second yellow card and Pompey were down to nine. The booking for handball was undeserved as he had received a shove from the Rovers player and he rose for the ball.
The atmosphere was ratcheted up another notch by the crowd and Pompey threw their bodies at everything. Naismith too proved his worth by making one good stop with his feet before the final whistle blew to a huge roar. Several men in blue sunk to their knees exhausted by their efforts in those final moments.
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Henderson; Walkes, Burgess, Clarke, Donohue; Thompson, Close; Evans (c) (Lowe 72), Ronan, Kennedy (Naismith 72); Hawkins (Pitman 59)
Goals: Walkes 19, Pitman 81
Sent off: Burgess (two yellow cards)
Subs not used: McGee, Deslandes, Widdrington, Chaplin
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 17,364 (366 away fans)
Pompey are really having a terrible season injury wise with Henderson being the second loanee carried off on their loan debut (with Tareiq Holmes-Dennis) and other being ruled out for the season – Danny Rose, Damien McCrory, Jack Whatmough, Stuart O`Keefe.
Kenny Jackett told the official site “Taking into account what happened from 85 minutes onwards, we`re very happy with the point. The injury to the goalkeeper and then the sending off – which I think surprised everyone in the ground – made it tough.
“But the commitment the players showed after that was fantastic and I`m proud of them for that. They battled away to earn us a draw.
“We had a lot of control and did better between the boxes than we have done for a while, but the goals against have again disappointed me. It doesn`t take teams very much to score against us and that`s nine games now without a clean sheet, so we have to sort that out. Christian lost his man and allowed Marquis to score at a time when we were on top, so it deflated us.
“But we dug out a point thanks to a quality delivery from Donohue and there are fine margins at the moment between where we are and the top six sides.
“We`re obviously happy with the outcome because of the way it all ended, but it was a winnable game for us.”
On the Henderson injury Jackett said: “Something has obviously popped, but we`ll just have to wait and see, and hope that it`s not too bad. It wasn`t good for him on his debut, although we`ve got Luke McGee and Alex Bass, so we`re not short in that area. We do need his experience, though, because we have a young side and that was the reason we brought him in.”
On Kal in goal Kenny said: “You work on different scenarios and a big part of it is who wants to take the responsibility. He made one save and also had a couple of clearances, but we defended heroically at the end to keep the ball away.”
Next Saturday sees Pompey make the trip to Milton Keynes to take on the Dons at the MK Stadium.
It is only their second trip to the land of the stone cows the first being in 2012 when Izale McLeod and Gabor Gyepes score in a 2-2 draw. All the members of the Pompey team have long since but Wes Thomas linked during the window did start.
The attendance that day was 10,409 but expect a lot more next week with Pompey likely to sell approaching 6,000 tickets.
And finally… do-d’oh
The star of this week’s And finally… is Brazilian Bravo Dodo – seen here with a chance to level the game for Giresunspor against Turkish giants Fenerbahçe in the cup from the penalty spot. He doesn’t half make a right old mess of it.
Thanks as always to the FSF for this piece of fun.