BEAST STARS FOR STAGS

Mans­field keeper Brian Jensen holds off an im­pres­sive Pom­pey

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Ge­orge Thorpe

PAUL COOK has pleaded for pa­tience from the Portsmouth sup­port­ers af­ter their League Two ti­tlechas­ing side was held to a goal­less draw at home to Mans­field Town. The hosts were by far the bet­ter of the two teams who started the day in sec­ond and fourth place in the divi­sion re­spec­tively, but the cut­ting edge Pom­pey needed for three points eluded them while Stags keeper Brian Jensen im­pressed.

That makes it four home games in a row where Pom­pey have failed to bag a win and also the fourth time th­ese sides have met at Frat­ton Park, with all of th­ese games end­ing in draws.

Cook re­mained up­beat af­ter­wards and be­lieves the wins will start chalk­ing up again soon.

He said: “It is frus­trat­ing for our home fans, but I thought the shape and struc­ture we had was ex­cel­lent and all that we lacked was pen­e­tra­tion.

“How­ever, if you try to solve it at one end, then you lead to de­struc­tion at the other end and we lim­ited Mans­field, who are a good side.

“Want­ing to win the game can­not lead to us los­ing it and the young lads in the team have to re­mem­ber that.

“We would have liked to have

won more at home, but we have to keep go­ing and re­mem­ber we have a good club and just have to be pa­tient.”

Pom­pey started the game stronger and looked ev­ery inch a side bat­tling for top spot in the divi­sion with Kyle Ben­nett go­ing close in the third minute of the con­test.

Kal Nai­smith had a cou­ple of early chances for the hosts, who were en­joy­ing fan­tas­tic link-up play be­tween Michael Doyle in the mid­field and Ben Davies and Enda Stevens on the wings.

Davies in par­tic­u­lar was be­ing given tons of space on the right and in the 17th minute, sup­plied Ro­muald Boco a pass which the Benin in­ter­na­tional sliced over.

Mans­field were strug­gling in all de­part­ments, but most crim­i­nal was ball re­ten­tion as their passes kept get­ting picked off by the sea of home play­ers sta­tioned in the mid­dle of the park.

It was poor tac­tics from vis­i­tors as they kept run­ning into brick walls as Pom­pey closed in around them.

The Stags fi­nally had a shot on goal in the 50th minute of the match as Adam Chap­man slammed an ef­fort from 25 yards out but it went miles over the top. Once they got back into full flow, Pom­pey were test­ing the Stags defence out again and Davies nearly put them ahead with a scream­ingly good curl­ing shot, which Jensen had to push away. The right back, by far Pom­pey’s best player on the day, also had the crowd gasp­ing as he sent a free kick from 25 yards wide.

With nine min­utes re­main­ing, the hosts thought they had fi­nally bro­ken the dead­lock, but some­how a de­fender de­flected Conor Chap­lin’s shot in the six yard box wide.

Af­ter the game, Stags boss Adam Mur­ray said he was de­lighted with a point to fin­ish off a long week.

“When you look at the week we have had, it has been tough,” he said.

“We had to travel down to Yeovil on Tues­day night and then to get back home and then come to a place like this and come up against an out­stand­ing team and an out­stand­ing man­ager is hard.

“But I thought at times we dom­i­nated the first half and over­all a point each was a fair re­sult.

“We have not got the big­gest squad and we are down to 18 play­ers at the mo­ment and trav­el­ling does take it out of you, but the play­ers we do have are good and we were in­tel­li­gent in our shape and how we played.

“Hav­ing Brian Jensen in goal as well is bril­liant and credit has to go to the back four as they made sure he only had one or two saves to make.

“I think at the mo­ment we are over­achiev­ing and we were one of the favourites for rel­e­ga­tion, but the 14 play­ers we brought in over the sum­mer have gelled re­ally well and we will only get stronger.”

PIC­TURES: TGSPHOTO

QUICK OFF THE MARK: Portsmouth de­fender Adam Web­ster beats Mans­field’s Matt Green to the ball

AC­RO­BATIC: Portsmouth’s Caolan Lav­ery at­tempts an over­head kick and team-mate Chris­tian Burgess holds off Craig West­carr, right STAR MAN BEN DAVIES Portsmouth

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