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Mansfield Town 2 Portsmouth 2

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Saturday August 24, 2013 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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League Two Fixture

Mansfield 2 Pompey 2

PUBLISHED 16:55 24th August 2013

by Neil Weld at One Call Stadium

Barcham and Connolly goals not quite enough for victory

Pompey drew 2-2 for a second away match in succession at Mansfield, but they might have been celebrating a victory.

The Blues fought back following Ben Hutchinson’s impressive opener, with goals from Andy Barcham and David Connolly turning the game on its head.

But Lindon Meikle came off the bench and capitalised on some hesitant defending to rescue a draw for the Stags.

Guy Whittingham made one change from the side that beat Morecambe seven days earlier.

Bondz N’Gala replaced Yassin Moutaouakil to make his first league start for Pompey, with Joe Devera moving to right-back.

It was the visitors who were first to threaten and Jed Wallace saw his ambitious 30-yard volley deflected behind after just two minutes.

Patrick Agyemang then sent a dangerous ball into the box, only for it to land just behind the onrushing Connolly.

Calvin Andrew was the first Mansfield player to try his luck and was not too far away with an effort from the edge of the area that was deflected narrowly wide.

At the other end, Connolly was again left frustrated as Wallace’s chipped pass drifted inches over the top of his head.

But the Blues then received a let-off when James Jennings was put off by Devera and could only hit a tame shot straight at Phil Smith.

Both sides looked capable of opening the scoring and it took a good block from Ritchie Sutton to deny Connolly following neat work by Wallace on 24 minutes.

Connolly went close again seconds later, cutting inside from the left and smashing a shot against the outside of the post.

But it was the hosts who broke the deadlock on 33 minutes, courtesy of a stunning strike from Hutchinson.

There did not appear much on when the ball flew towards the midfielder, but he launched a superb 30-yard volley over the head of Smith and into the net

Pompey were level thanks to a well-worked goal of their own six minutes later, however.

Wallace played a neat one-two with Agyemang down the right before pulling the ball back for BARCHAM to lash into the roof of the net.

And Barcham then played a pivotal role as the Blues took the lead a few moments later.

The winger surged half the length of the pitch and skipped a challenge before bursting into the box. His shot was saved by Alan Marriott, but the ball fell kindly for CONNOLLY to drive home.

Half Time: Mansfield 1 Pompey 2

Pompey had a decent opportunity to extend their advantage early in the second, but Connolly fired a free-kick high over the bar after Barcham had been felled on the edge of the box.

Former Havant & Waterlooville striker Ollie Palmer was then given a chance to impress, replacing Sam Clucas in the Stags attack on 53 minutes.

It was Jamie McGuire who had an opportunity to level soon after, though, but he could only drive straight at Smith.

The hosts thought they should have won a penalty on 60 minutes when Andrew went down under pressure from Marcos Painter, but referee Stephen Martin was not interested.

Pompey, meanwhile, were striving to make sure of victory and Connolly saw his shot blocked after a quick turn in the box.

Whittingham made a change on 67 minutes, with Johnny Ertl – available again after a three-match ban – replacing Romain Padovani in midfield.

But Mansfield took advantage of some uncertain defending to draw level moments later.

Smith tried to claim a cross, but was unable to hold on after running into N’Gala, allowing Stags substitute Meikle to steer home the loose ball.

It might have got worse for the Blues just second later, but Palmer volleyed wide from an acute angle.

Painter limped off injured and was replaced by Moutaouakil on 75 minutes, while Ryan Bird came on for Agyemang in the closing stages.

But Pompey were unable to find a late winner and had to contend with leaving the One Call Stadium with a point.

Mansfield (3-5-2): Marriott; Sutton, Dempster (c), Riley; Beevers (Meikle 67), Hutchinson, Clements, McGuire, Jennings; Andrew (Rhead 64), Clucas (Palmer 53)Goals: Hutchinson 33, Meikle 71Subs not used: Mitchell, Tafazolli, Murray, Stevenson

Pompey (4-4-2): Smith; Devera, N’Gala, Bradley, Painter (Moutaouakil 75); Wallace, Padovani (Ertl 67), Ferry, Barcham; Agyemang (Bird 81), Connolly (c)Goals: Barcham 39, Connolly 43 Subs not used: Sullivan, Butler, East, Holmes

Referee: Stephen Martin

Attendance: 4,577 (1,005 Pompey fans)

Mansfield 2 Pompey 2

By PompeyJake (from Vital Pompey)

Very very similar to Accrington.

They scored first against the run of play with a great strike. Potentially Smith could have done better but I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. It was a great hit!

We quickly cameback through the quite superb Barcham (what a player he could be for us this season) and Connolly. Our football was crisp and mostly on the floor. Our passing was fluid and finishing clinical.

Half-Time: Mansfield 1 Pompey 2

We reach half-time and everyone’s happy. Then something amazing happened. A completely different team came out for the second-half.

Within five mins, I knew a point would be a good result. We were hoofing the ball at every opportunity and losing it instantly. We had one decent shot on goal in the second half if I remember rightly. We’d lost our fluidity, our confidence and our ability to pass. I’m trying to work out if its a lack of fitness or confidence because it was so strange to watch!

One thing I was particularly concerned about was the fact it was clearly not working in the second-half and Guy Whittingham did nothing to change it, something that has been evident in recent matches.

It seems we’ve become a first-half team. For me, historically, we’ve always played our better stuff in the second-half. If we can match the second-half with the quality of the first, we should have no problems finishing in a decent position this season.

Full-Time: Mansfield 2 Pompey 2





Mansfield 2 Pompey 2

With his hands on his hips, Andy Barcham cut a disconsolate figure on the Field Mill pitch.

Nobody had contributed more in Pompey’s fight for victory under such heavy aerial bombardment from the direct hosts.

Yet when the curtain was brought down by referee Stephen Martin, the Blues were left with a solitary point and more defensive concerns.

Situated just outside the centre circle upon the final whistle, Barcham was bound to the spot – those feet which had dazzled and been so fleet finally brought to a halt.

The flying winger had never stopped driving forward against Mansfield.

He was Pompey’s dominant attacking figure and the scourge of a lumbering back three for the second successive match.

A maiden Blues goal and excellent assist will testify emphatically his input into Saturday’s proceedings.

Except there was much, much more to his performance than such statistics, no matter how pleasing they may be.

At times, Barcham is simply unplayable with the ball at his feet.

Mansfield was one of those occasions, as was Morecambe.

In fact, as have most of his performances during an outstanding Honeymoon period since moving to Fratton Park.

The 26-year-old has truly hit the ground running and emerged as the early frontrunner in terms of Guy Whittingham’s most outstanding recruit of the summer.

There he was, though, at Mansfield, deeply frustrated at Pompey’s failure to have captured all three points rather than leave content with a 2-2 draw.

After applauding more than 1,000 away fans with his team-mates, Barcham found solace in Patrick Agyemang – the pair last off the playing surface.

Agyemang was the sympathetic listening ear, while the winger was all shaking of head and frenetic gesticulation, the epitome of annoyance.

Whatever he said down there, he elected to keep his emotions in check when conducting the post-match interviews, restrained and affable yet unwilling to start pointing fingers at playing colleagues.

Not that those present at Field Mill needed enlightening upon the reason why Pompey failed to win, nor those who caught the television replays of the second goal for the hosts.

As Phil Smith later uttered via his personal Twitter account: ‘Terrible from me today sorry’.

Brutal honesty and hard to disagree with.

The fateful moment came in the 72nd minute when Ollie Palmer somehow hooked back a ball back from the byline which seemed destined to be heading out of play for a goal-kick.

As Smith backpeddled to claim, there appeared little danger – certainly there were few Stags players in his vicinity.

Yet the keeper managed to collide with both Joe Devera and Bondz N’Gala stationed at the far post, the ball squirming from his grasp as he did so.

Matt Rhead drove in a shot and Lindon Meikle nudged it home through the bodies on the line to register the equaliser.

Meikle had been on the pitch just five minutes, having replaced the injured Lee Beevers in an enforced substitution.

Nonetheless his contribution proved to be a crucial one.

Poor defending has blighted the Blues’ early season fixtures and after keeping a clean sheet in the home victory over Morecambe last weekend it reared its head once more.

Still, Whittingham had opted to make one change to the back line which remained unbreached the previous match, a tactical decision rather than one based on form.

Wary of the Stags’ physical presence and direct style of play, he dropped Yassin Moutaouakil and brought in N’Gala to strengthen his side both defensively and aerially.

That saw Devera move across to right-back with N’Gala partnering Sonny Bradley in the centre and Marcos Painter remaining at left-back.

Meanwhile, Romain Padovani kept his central midfield place despite Johnny Ertl’s return following a three-match suspension.

Not that Pompey’s revamped defence could do anything about Ben Hutchinson’s magnificent 33rd-minute opener.

The striker controlled Padovani’s prodded clearance on his chest before unleashing a tremendous right-foot volley from 25 yards which screamed past Smith in goal.

It was a strike of stunning quality from the former Celtic team-mate of Simon Ferry, who has yet to fulfil a potential which saw him once net for Middlesbrough in the Premier League.

Certainly it was out of context from Mansfield’s game plan – an approach centred on hitting the channels long and high, particularly down the left, to test the Pompey defence.

In the 39th minute, however, Barcham levelled in a well-worked move.

Agyemang fed Jed Wallace down the right and the youngster pulled the ball back for the Blues’ man-of-the-moment to crash it into the roof of the net.

Then just five minutes later the visitors found themselves in the lead, Barcham the creator.

The ex-Gillingham player embarked on a run from the halfway line, leaving several Stags players in his slipstream before drilling in a left-foot shot.

Keeper Alan Marriott saved low down but the ever-alert David Connolly was following up to steer his own left-foot shot into the net to make it four goals this season.

No League Two player has scored more than the 36-year-old so far this term.

And he once again wore the captain’s armband with regular incumbent Ertl on the bench.

The second-half was largely a non-event, with Pompey struggling to carve out sufficient goalscoring opportunities while having to combat the direct nature of the Stags’ play.

Not that Smith’s goal was particularly threatened and, despite lacking another goal to potentially finish matters, Whittingham’s side were comfortable with their lead.

That was until the 72nd minute when Smith made his awful error and the hosts suddenly found themselves back on level terms. Minutes later there was a concern for Pompey when Painter hobbled off with an injury, prompting another defensive reshuffle.

But it remained 2-2, making it three league games unbeaten since that opening-day loss to Oxford.

It could so easily have been three wins, with the Blues having let leads slip at Accrington and now Mansfield on their travels.

Once more the defence is being glared at – not just by Pompey supporters but also the ever-inspirational Barcham.



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