Carlisle 4 Pompey 2

122823_CARLISLE_PFC_25/8/12''Ashley Harris scores Portsmouth first goal of the match. ''Npower League 1, match Carlisle United V Portsmouth FC at Carlisle. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (122823-715)
122823_CARLISLE_PFC_25/8/12''Ashley Harris scores Portsmouth first goal of the match. ''Npower League 1, match Carlisle United V Portsmouth FC at Carlisle. ''Picture: Allan Hutchings (122823-715)
Samantha Quayle. Picture: Jordan Hampton

Flying start for Pompey with Cardiff swept aside

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How apt that one of the longest away journeys in English football should serve as the rudest of League One wake-up calls for Pompey.

Michael Appleton’s men were 350 miles from home on Saturday when they learned that the third tier of the English football is a different world.

Brunton Park was the venue for a little bit of an education for Appy’s hastily-assembled new faces.

And it brought a big reality check for those with grand ambitions for their side over the next nine months.

This was summer Cumbria style, with the rain teeming down across the wide open spaces of Carlisle’s home as the tackles flew in.

Pompey simply didn’t deal with it.

Despite the ongoing circus around the club, the first shoots of a new season have given some encouraging signs of on-pitch potential.

It’s evident that, at this stage, potential is all it is.

The Blues had shown promising footballing habits in their two league games before this.

But they were all-too-easily swallowed up by a side smarting from a three-goal home defeat in midweek.

The ominous signs were there when Carlisle boss Greg Abbott decided to conduct his pre-match on the pitch before kick-off – a shrewd piece of motivation.

That fired up his side’s fans and players and saw them set about 
Pompey with a limited but tigerish approach.

It was all too much for men who have showed culture so far, but found themselves stifled and outfought by hungrier opposition.

The old adage that you have to win the right to play football had never rung so true.

‘That’s what it’s going to be this season – and they have got to get used to it,’ was Appleton’s typically blunt response to what he witnessed.

Welcome to League One.

The Pompey boss’s residency in his technical area told you all you needed to know about his feelings.

Arms tightly wrapped across his chest and motionless, he slowly seethed until a single index finger tapped his head.

Intelligence was lacking, along with the tempo.

The drama of four goals in the game’s finale failed to paper over the cracks of Pompey’s deficiencies.

The game’s first two critical finishes arrived with Carlisle players sticking away free headers with orange shirts closer to a PO than CA postcode.

These weren’t lapses from naive youngsters either, but ‘people who should have known better’ as the manager put it.

Carlisle’s menacing new loanee Jake Jervis profited from the freedom of the penalty area to loop home the first after 13 minutes from Danny Cadamarteri’s cross.

Danny Livesey benefited from the second three minutes after the restart as Izale McLeod was caught napping and allowed the Carlisle to man apply the finish.

That prompted a joyous celebration that Prince Harry would have approved of, and suggested the Carlisle captain doesn’t receive such gifts too often.

In between those killer blows a story unfolded of stuttering football from a more talented side who were coming up short against limited but truthful endeavour.

Not that there weren’t chances for Pompey to find parity.

McLeod is expected to bring a cutting edge over the coming campaign.

Unfortunately he left it elsewhere on Saturday.

An air shot seven minutes before the break when freed by Luke Rodgers, who had earlier fired a left-footer wide from eight yards, summed up an afternoon that will be quickly forgotten for the summer arrival from Barnet.

It was a similar tale 45 seconds after Carlisle’s second when McLeod was clean through on goal, but lost out in his duel with home keeper Adam Collin.

At least the final third of the game saw Pompey find an element of the fluency that had been lacking.

The passes which had been going behind team-mates or were being sprayed into touch found feet instead, and Carlisle were pinned back.

But the nerve which would have been frail after losing 3-0 to Tranmere on Tuesday had grown strong, and the chances that could have tested it were passed up by McLeod and Howard.

Jordan Obita raised hopes with a piece of quality that would have closed the book on the goal of the season competition three games into the league campaign.

His deliciously-hit 30 yard half-volley cannoned back off the crossbar, however, while Collin was still thinking about whether to have the cheek to dive for the ball.

Kevin Long’s dismissal for a second yellow with six minutes looked to have sealed the points for Carlisle.

But the introduction of the teenage catalysts Conor Clifford and Ashley Harris briefly raised faint hopes of a comeback and gave us an interesting side-plot over the final few minutes.

Appleton has described Harris as his ‘game changer’. The bundle of energy from Purbrook had a right go at being just that.

He will quite rightly savour his first senior Pompey goal, a brilliantly taken near-post header from Liam Walker’s corner.

The Blues couldn’t grab the lion’s share of the three goals which were to follow in an amazing period of stoppage time, however.

Clifford got one of them either side of efforts from James Berrett and Paddy Madden, but the impossible never really looked probable.

So the wake-up call has now arrived for those optimists with royal blue in their blood.

The hope is there aren’t many more nightmares around the corner as the focus, as ever, turns to events off the pitch in the coming days.

The familiar noises of new interest resurfaced on Saturday, but its Balram Chainrai’s Portpin and the Pompey Supporters’ Trust who have their bids on administrator Trevor Birch’s table at present.

The hopes and fears which reside in their relative offers are now well known, as are the feelings of the majority of the Fratton faithful on them.

Which way Birch will now turn we wait to see – but the word is there isn’t much longer to go until that decision becomes clear.

We live for the day we can simply concern ourselves with the football club putting right a bad performance like this.

The suspicion is we’ll be waiting a while yet.