NOW IT’S TIME TO PLAY UP POMPEY
ANDY AWFORD is urging his Portsmouth side to use a deserved point against Cheltenham as a springboard for the busy festive period.
Portsmouth ended their away day misery with this point, but they had to hit back from a goal down to halt a losing streak of five matches on the road in all competitions.
And after Nigel Atangana fired a leveller boss Awford felt they could easily have been celebrating a victory come the final whistle.
“I’m pleased with the performance, which was excellent,” Awford said.
“We came with a game-plan and the players carried it out.
“We wanted to keep it tight and grow into the game as it went on and I thought we were unfortunate to go in behind at half-time because it’s the only shot on target I can remember them having.
“We upped the quality in the second half and created more chances. The lads dug in and showed plenty of character.
“We probably deserved to win the game on the basis of our possession and chances created.
“I have to say that our supporters were absolutely magnificent – yet again – and we’re all in this together.
“We’ve now got something to build on going into a busy period.”
Omari Sterling-James put Cheltenham ahead in the 42nd minute with his first Football League goal, two days after signing a oneyear extension to his contract, powering into the box and beating Paul Jones with a leftfooted strike.
Robins boss Paul Buckle praised the 21year-old former Redditch United player, despite seeing him miss a good chance to make it 2-0 seconds before Atangana levelled for Pompey.
“We scored a brilliant, well worked goal and I brought Omari in to play shorter off Terry Gornell and it worked well because they didn’t trouble us much in the first half,” Buckle said.
“Omari looked a constant threat, but we knew they’d come out strongly in the second half.
“They had experience on the bench and they really came at us, throwing a lot into the box, which was a huge test for us.
“We did well, but for one moment we lost our shape and they scored with a shot that looped up off Lee Vaughan’s foot, hit the bar and went in.”
Danny Hollands hit a scissor-kick from Lee Holmes’ cross into the side netting for Portsmouth after ten minutes before they headed in at the break a goal down.
The visitors made a strong start to the second period, but Sterling-James should have scored a second in the 55th minute.
He raced through on goal after an error from Joe Devera, but Jones saved well and Pompey levelled almost immediately.
Jack Whatmough supplied Atangana and his powerful drive crashed in off the crossbar via a deflection.
Paul Robinson shot wide from a good position with a minute left and Trevor Carson saved from Holmes as Portsmouth pushed for a winner.
STAR MAN JACK
outh Portsm AT YOUR SERVICE: Portsmouth’s Nigel Atangana points to the sky after equalising