Burnley 1 Pompey 1

Jamie Ashdown cannot keep out Chris Eagles' leveller for Burnley
Jamie Ashdown cannot keep out Chris Eagles' leveller for Burnley
Samantha Quayle. Picture: Jordan Hampton

Flying start for Pompey with Cardiff swept aside

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David Nugent wasn’t celebrating. Come the final whistle, neither were the Burnley fans.

There was no haring towards the away following, kissing the badge and triumphantly beating the chest from the Pompey striker.

Instead, Nugent opted for a respectful trot back to the centre circle following his 57th-minute opener.

It could yet be his final goal in a four-year Blues career, a suitable swansong to score at the club he spent last season on loan with.

The chances are it will be, with Nugent’s contract nearing the end and still no replacement penned.

Steve Cotterill certainly thinks Nugent is on his way in a few weeks time – he conceded as much in the post-match press conference.

With just two matches of the season remaining, yesterday’s spectacular strike could well be the last time the former England international hits the back of the net in a Pompey shirt.

Not that he was milking the occasion, quite the opposite. Best not upset those who cheered you on 12 months ago.

And Nugent certainly wasn’t wearing a smile when he spurned an 85th-minute one-on-one against the towering Brian Jensen.

Minutes later, the Blues striker made way for Nadir Ciftci, admittedly to a little applause from the Burnley faithful.

Still, goal number 13 of the campaign for the former Preston man was certainly unlucky for the Clarets.

It went towards securing a 1-1 draw which has given Burnley’s play-off hopes a massive body blow.

In the corresponding fixture last year, Pompey marked entering administration with a 2-1 Premier League victory against the men from Turf Moor.

This time around they inflicted a result which could yet end Burnley’s aspirations of a swift return to the top flight.

And whether Nugent liked it or not, it was his input which was at the heart of it.

Of course, he could have plunged the knife in a little firmer had he netted that late, late opportunity.

As it was, Eddie Howe’s men are two points off that fourth play-off spot with just two matches now remaining.

As for Pompey, it was another impressively resilient display, continuing where they left off against Preston at the weekend.

Supposedly nothing is left for Cotterill’s men to play for in these final few weeks of a draining campaign.

Not that you could tell, with his side once again fighting hard to claim a creditable and thoroughly-deserved point

Cotterill’s diminishing selection options shrank even further in the build-up to the Burnley trip.

The Blues boss was forced to replace Dave Kitson from the side who drew at home to Swansea at the weekend.

The rib injury the striker sustained in that first half kept him out, presenting Kanu with a rare start.

Kitson joined the suspended Ricardo Rocha and calf injury victim Liam Lawrence on the sidelines as the season draws to a close.

That was one of two changes to the team, with David Cotterill back and returning to the side, having been ineligible to play against his parent club Swansea.

The Welshman came in for Carl Dickinson as the loanee from Stoke dropped back to the bench.

Ciftci also returned from an ankle problem to take his place among the substitutes, although the five-man loan rule saw Ibrahima Sonko left out.

Burnley had their first glimpse of goal on 15 minutes when Chris Eagles swung in a cross from the right which Jay Rodriguez powerfully headed over.

Moments later, Chris Iwelumo chested the ball into the path of Eagles, who struck a spectacular volley from 30 yards which drifted narrowly wide of its target.

Burnley continued to threaten and when Michael Duff’s long pass picked out Wade Elliott on 20 minutes, the winger sent a header straight at Jamie Ashdown when he should have done better.

Ashdown had to come to the visitors’ rescue on the half-hour mark when Rodriguez burst through the middle unchallenged and struck a powerful effort.

Ashdown did superbly to push it out and then managed to block Danny Fox’s follow-up effort with his legs to preserve his goal.

Pompey had their best opportunity of the game so far when David Cotterill crossed from the right and Nugent sent in a header straight at keeper Jensen.

It was to be the visitors who took the lead through a stunning strike from Nugent on 57 minutes.

Kanu cut across the edge of the area before rolling the ball into the path of his team-mate, and Nugent crashed a first-time effort into the top corner of the net. It was a stunning strike from the former Preston forward, who opted not to celebrate against the club he represented only last year.

Burnley were desperate to level matters and, within minutes of Nugent’s goal, Ashdown had produced two timely stops.

First, he came off his line to get the slightest touch to deflect Elliott’s shot.

Then, moments later, he stood firm to parry Iwelumo’s thumping header.

But on 74 minutes, Burnley levelled when Tyrone Mears galloped down the right and cut the ball back for Eagles to steer a left-foot shot into the far corner.

There was still time for late drama when Nugent was sent scuttling through, only to be denied by the on-rushing Jensen.

Burnley, themselves, surged forward with five minutes of time added on.

But Cotterill’s men held on to claim a deserved point – and inflict a blow on the hosts’ play-off hopes.