POMPEY 0 NORTHAMPTON 0: Blues fail to grab golden chance of second straight win
By Site reporter
Sunday 29 Dec 2013 17:53:00
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Four points from two Christmas games sounds like a positive return for a team who hadn't won since early November. Yet this 0-0 draw with bottom side Northampton felt like a step back after Boxing Day's two steps forward with the 1-0 win over Dagenham and Redbridge.

 

Pompey carved out most of the chances and, if anyone deserved to win, the hosts did. But their failure to find a single goal against very limited visitors breeds concern for the second half of the season: if Pompey are to get up to the sort of league position most think they should be capable of achieving, where will the goals come from?

Confidence is another concern. A succession of poor performances have put the fans on edge and left the players fragile when things don't go quite right. If only a second successive win - however scrappy - had followed on the heels of the Dagenham victory. That would have done much for confidence, and perhaps bred a little momentum.

But it was not to be and a testing 2013 at Fratton Park ended with the home fans making a speedy exit from Fratton frustrated at what they had seen, and what they had not seen.

Johnny Ertl returned to the starting XI in place of hamstring injury victim Simon Ferry.

Pompey began reasonably brightly and were unlucky not to take the lead 10 minutes into the match, when Patrick Agyemang touched a pass to Jed Wallace and his chip from the angle of the box beat the keeper and came back off the bar.

Romain Padovani - the goal hero on Boxing Day - volleyed wide from just outside the area after Ricky Holmes' cut-back - and things were looking hopeful for the Blues. But the hope was to turn to frustration.

For Northampton, Gary Deegan’s long throw-in bounced over keeper Trevor Carson and hit the crossbar before going out.

Pompey continued to have the better of things but looked short of invention in the final third. The closest they came to a first-half opener was a shot on the turn by Sonny Bradley after a corner fell to him, but it hit a team-mate and spun out for a goal-kick.

The second half carried on where the first had left off and chances were at a premium.

Lee Collins set up Cobblers sub David Moyo with a flick-on but Carson saved.

Thery Racon had a couple of attempts at goal blocked before they could trouble the keeper while Matty Harriott’s long-range shot was the closest the visitors came to going ahead.

Bradley and Joe Devera took it in turns to meet Holmes corners - Bradley's header was well-saved as it headed for the top corner but Devera's half-volley was horribly high over the bar.

Ryan Bird replaced Agyemang but the change did little to liven up Pompey. The Fratton end were calling for 4-4-2 and Connolly and eventually got their wish with seven minutes left, but it wasn't long enough for the player-coach to get his teeth into things.

Injured Danny East hobbled off for treatment and was replaced by Bondz N’Gala, who might have won it from a corner had he made better connection with a header.

Late on Pompey had a let-off when Bradley's sliding tackle to stop a Northampton forward in his tracks looked like a professional foul only yards outside the box, but the referee waved play on to the dismay of the visitors.

It was a forgettable affair and there were boos ringing around the ground as the crowd quickly made for the exits.

So it's on to Roots Hall on New Year's Day with hopes that Richie Barker can find some answers and get Pompey moving, at last, in the right direction.

Pompey: Carson; East (N’Gala 79), Devera, Bradley, Painter; Ertl (Connolly 83); Wallace, Padovani, Racon, Holmes; Agyemang (Bird 75). Subs not used: Sullivan, Whatmough, Maloney, Harris.

Referee: Gavin Ward

Attendance: 15,426 (728 away fans)

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