BEAST STARS FOR STAGS
Mansfield keeper Brian Jensen holds off an impressive Pompey
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.”
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