DAN BRETT: Presumed win at Stanley fails to materialise
Sunday, 11th Aug 2013 10:13 by Dan Brett
As Sky Sports cameras packed up and prepared to roll out of the Store First Stadium, Pompey would have been looking at yesterday's 2-2 draw as two points lost.
A brace from David Connolly helped put the Blues back in the driving seat after Peter Murphy's opener.
However the 1,001 travelling fans had to settle for a point, after a controversial second goal from Murphy gave James Beattie's men a share of the spoils.
Phil Smith was handed his league debut, while Danny East and Romain Padovani made up the changes from the opening day defeat to Oxford United.
East, filling in for Dan Butler at left-back, showed his versatility during the opening exchanges - cool and calm play from the ex-Hull defender.
And Padovani, who replaced the suspended Johnny Ertl, looked to add to his Pompey CV, having shown glimpses of ability throughout pre-season.
Just thirty-two seconds into the match, the hosts had their first chance - a header from striker Marcus Carver at the near post could have, and should have, put his side into an early lead.
However, both Carver and ex-Blues striker Danny Webber found themselves stifled during the opening exchanges - fine work by defensive duo Sonny Bradley and Joe Devera.
No such issues for Guy Whittingham's men, though, who could have scored five goals in the first half - Patrick Agyemang missing two chances - adding to Stanley 'keeper Ian Dunbavin's excellent afternoon.
Andy Barcham, who scored two goals during pre-season, also showed his credentials on the wing and could have helped himself to a 40-yard run-and-finish, much like his strikes at West Leigh Park and the Goldsands Stadium.
Half time: Accrington Stanley 0-0 Pompey.
No changes for either side at the interval, however no doubt plenty of stern words from both camps as both sides took to the field.
And it was the Blues who started brighter, Simon Ferry linking well with Barcham to provide a positive outlet, but unable to produce the telling touch in the opening minutes.
However, another frustrating afternoon for Jed Wallace, who seemed to get more and more agitated as the match grew on; although the youngster did go close with a couple of set-piece efforts.
However, the opening goal fell to the hosts, after Pompey failed to close down Murphy on the 25-yard mark, firing Stanley into the lead.
Smith, failed to make a competitive performance last season, was caught off his line for the goal - left red-faced by the midfielder - and could do nothing but palm the ball into the roof of the net.
A bitter pill to swallow for Pompey, who had looked assured and effective in possession throughout the opening hour of he match.
Far cry from the Oxford defeat, though, as the visitors showed their endeavour to get back into the match, with Padovani and Ferry continuing to pull the orchestrate the play.
Connolly got Pompey back on level terms after good work by the midfield quartet, slotting home in front of his own supporters; sparking wild celebrations from the fans, and equally, Alan McLoughlin.
And then it was to be two for the Blues, as Tom Aldred fouled Agyemang in the box, with Connolly on hand to put his side, deservedly, in the ascendency.
Looking good value for the win, the visitors continued to pile on the pressure, with Padovani strolling across the pitch, making the game look effortless in his cultured style.
But a lapse of concentration gifted Stanley their equaliser; Bradley was unable to beat Aldred to a deep, floated ball, headed back across Smith's goalmouth, allowing Murphy to head in his second of the afternoon at the back post.
Barcham continued to threaten as the game wore down, and could have scored a dramatic winner late on, denied only by the far post after a fizzing shot from twenty yards.
And even the late introduction of Ryan Bird, brought on for the talismanic Agyemang, couldn't provide Pompey with the winning touch, as both sides shared the honours.
Plenty of positives for Whittingham, with an improved defensive display and more potency in the final third and another fine display for my Pompey man of the match, Andy Barcham.
Not a good afternoon for Jed Wallace, who seems to be playing a deeper role in midfield; however, plenty more games this season for the youngster to add to his stock.
Full time: Accrington Stanley 2-2 Pompey.
Ratings: Smith 6, Moutaouakil 6, Devera 7, Bradley 8, East 6, Wallace 5, Ferry 6, Padovani 8, Barcham 9, Agyemang 7, Connolly 8
Dan Brett is the Pompey Live co-commentator, touch-line reporter and a freelance print journalist
Photo: Action Images
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