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Cherries: Groves's men fight back at Fratton Park
Cherries fought back to grab a share of the spoils against a spirited Portsmouth outfit this afternoon.
Michael Appleton’s side had been dramatically thrown together late on Thursday after the crisis-hit club had finally been granted permission to sign players.
But despite their off-field woes, the hosts turned in a gritty display to lead at half-time thanks to Izale McLeod’s 19th-minute opener.
Paul Groves’s men, though, improved after the break at Fratton Park and Saints loanee Lee Barnard, himself only signed yesterday, headed home Simon Francis’s cross 12 minutes from time to secure a hard-earned point.
Groves made four changes from the side that crashed out of the League Cup at Oxford United in midweek, with new signing Tommy Elphick making his debut in place of Stephane Zubar.
Eunan O’Kane, fresh from international duty with the Republic of Ireland, came in for Lewis Grabban, while Shaun MacDonald replaced Harry Arter in the Cherries engine room.
Loan striker Barnard, meanwhile, also made his Cherries bow with Matt Tubbs making way.
Pompey’s entire starting 11 were making their club debuts.
Despite being under pressure during the opening exchanges, a quick break from Cherries allowed Marc Pugh to thread a neat through ball into the path of Wes Thomas, but the striker’s right-foot effort came back off the post.
The hosts, though, took a deserved lead thanks to a shocking piece of goalkeeping from Shwan Jalal .
McLeod drifted cut inside from the left, barely inside the final third, and fired a speculative shot from all of 30 yards which Jalal looked to have covered.
The former Peterborough man, though, allowed the ball to slip between his legs and into the back of the net.
Thomas’s header from Pugh’s cross flew narrowly wide as Cherries sought an immediate way back into the game, before referee Anthony Taylor waved away Luke Rodgers’s appeals for a penalty after a challenge from Elphick.
Jalal dusted himself down to claw away Jon Harley’s swerving effort from distance after 31 minutes, while Mikkel Andersen in the Pompey goal was equal to Charlie Daniels’s strike from inside the box five minutes before the break.
MacDonald blasted over from the edge of the box moments later after Mustapha Dumbuya had cleared Miles Addison’s initial effort off the line, but that was as good as it got from Cherries during a poor first half.
For the casual observer, it would have been difficult to tell which team was boasting an entire pre-season of preparation and which had been thrown together on Thursday, such was the lack of cohesion and energy from Groves’s men.
Pompey started the second half as they had the first half – well on top of proceedings.
Rodgers fired a pin-point ball over the top four minutes after the restart, which was beautifully brought down by McLeod, but Jalal raced off his line to smother the former MK Dons man.
Barnard’s volley on the turn after 56 minutes failed to trouble Andersen, but Cherries were managing to retain possession far better than their first-half showing.
Grabban replaced MacDonald just after the hour mark and was handed a gilt-edged chance to level the scores almost immediately, but the former Rotherham man blasted over from close range after Andersen had parried Thomas’s effort into his path.
Rodgers spared Addison’s blushes on 67 minutes when he shot wide of the target having been allowed in behind thanks to a mix-up between the Cherries captain and Joe Partington , before Andersen expertly tipped over Grabban’s snapshot moments later.
Cherries were really starting to get on top as Pompey tired late on and the introductions of Arter and Tubbs seemed to breathe new life into Groves’s side.
And their efforts were rewarded on 78 minutes when Francis’s cross was nodded home by Barnard from inside the six-yard box to make it 1-1.
O’Kane’s rasping drive 10 minutes from time flashed wide of Andersen’s goal, while Pompey sub Ashley Harris watched his late effort come back off the post as Cherries were granted a huge let-off.
Pompey: Andersen, Dumbuya, Long, Connolly, Harley, Compton (Harris, 82), Howard, Williamson (Clifford, 62), Djalili (Webster, 89), Rodgers, McLeod.
Unused subs: Eastwood.
Cherries: Jalal, Francis, Addison, Elphick, Daniels, O’Kane, MacDonald (Grabban, 63), Partington (Arter, 74), Pugh, Barnard, Thomas (Tubbs, 74).
Unused subs: Collins, Cook, Zubar, Wakefield.
Referee: Anthony Taylor (Cheshire).