POMPEY HAVE U’S TO THANK
PORTSMOUTH preserved their eight-match unbeaten run and, according to Oxford boss Michael Appleton, they have his strikers to thank.
Liam Sercombe put Oxford ahead in the first half but they failed to capitalise on that and Adam McGurk punished them with a stunning leveller.
Portsmouth played out the closing stages with ten men, after skipper Michael Doyle had been sent off for a second bookable offence, but they held on to secure a point.
“We should have put the game to bed and out of sight by halftime,” sighed Appleton.
“We had three or four glorious opportunities and paid the price in the second half.
“Credit their goalkeeper Paul Jones, who made a string of fine saves, but we should have won it.
“The biggest disappointment was that Pompey only had two shots in the game – and the second was an absolute stunner from McGurk, which cost us the game.”
But Appleton, who had a spell as Portsmouth manager three years ago, feels that Oxford are on the right track after the opening six weeks.
“We are happy where we are,” he added. “Only one defeat in 15 games now at the end of last season and the beginning of this, so I’m quite pleased with the way things are going.”
As the first half progressed, Oxford’s pressure paid off. Pompey failed to clear a 33rdminute corner conceded by Christian Burgess from Danny Hylton’s shot and the influential Sercombe rifled Oxford in front.
Oxford ought to have doubled their lead before half-time but goalkeeper Jones, a replacement for the injured Brian Murphy, made a string of fine saves to keep the visitors at bay.
Portsmouth lost teenage striker Conor Chaplin with a shin injury and sent on the leggy Adam Barton, who sparked some life into the visitors’ midfield, but sloppy passing continued to let them down.
However, McGurk struck a super 35-yarder which swerved and flew past the helpless Sam Slocombe to rescue a point for the visitors.
The goal earned a point for Pompey, who played the last 15 minutes a man short after Doyle had seen red for a second yellow card for a clumsy challenge on Sercombe.
Manager Paul Cook wasn’t over-impressed with his side’s inconsistent showing in front of a sun kissed 9,000-plus crowd, but felt they deserved a point at the Kassam Stadium.
He said: “There were times when we were really poor.We lost our way and were lucky to still be in it at half-time.
“We were giving away possession cheaply and weren’t dominating the ball.
“All our problems were coming from our own individual errors. We didn’t have enough attempts on goal and couldn’t get going.
“But once we got that equalising goal we looked a different side. In the end, I’m pleased with the point, which we didn’t look like getting at one stage.”
SEEING RED: Portsmouth captain Michael Doyle is sent off by referee Iain Williamson STAR MAN LIAM SERCO