Pompey draw blank with Boro

Pompey's John Akinde battles with Stevenage's Mark Roberts   Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey's John Akinde battles with Stevenage's Mark Roberts Picture: Joe Pepler
Carl Baker. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Pompey played out a goalless draw in a lacklustre match against Stevenage.

The sunshine came out at Fratton Park but there was little in terms of goalmouth action in the penultimate home game this season.

Another clean sheet made it 423 minutes since the Blues last conceded at Fratton - and extended an undefeated home run stretching more than two months.

Nonetheless, they struggled to test Boro keeper Steve Arnold, while Simon Eastwood was similarly quiet.

There was late drama when Anthony Grant tangled with, firstly Johnny Ertl, and then Yassin Moutaouakil, sparking a set-to among the majority of the players on the pitch.

In stoppage-time, Boro substitute Marcus Haber sent a header against the crossbar as the game drew to its conclusion.

It’s now two defeats in the past 12 matches for Guy Whittingham’s men, but the draw does little to aid hopes of finishing outside the relegation zone before the 10-point deduction.

Whittingham made three changes to the side which defeated Tranmere last week, the absence of Patrick Agyemang against his parent club enforced.

Sam Sodje and Jack Maloney dropped to the bench, allowing John Akinde, Ricardo Rocha and Liam Walker into the starting line-up.

There was also a place among the substitutes for the first time for Academy midfielder Nick Awford.

When the match got under way, Pompey missed a great opportunity to break the deadlock after 10 minutes following excellent work down the right.

Jed Wallace pulled a cross back from the right touchline which was dummied by David Connolly, yet Walker could only prod his shot wide of the target.

It was not inspiring stuff from either side but in the 25th minute a fierce 25-yard Wallace free-kick was caught well by Steve Arnold in the visitors’ goal.

Moments later at the other end, Dani Lopez broke into the penalty area and fired in a right-foot shot but it was straight at Simon Eastwood.

In first-half stoppage-time, mis-communication between Arnold and his defenders saw the keeper collide with two of them while attempting to clear the ball. Connolly responded by half-volleying a shot goalwards, but there was enough cover to head it clear for Boro.

The game continued to be devoid of chances during the second half, with Pompey too often making the wrong decision in highly-promising situations.

Much to the frustrations of the home fans, it appeared to be a team malaise rather than any particular individual for Whittingham’s side.

In the 63rd minute a wicked cross from the right whipped in by Wallace somehow eluded Connolly at the near post with nobody getting a touch to a certain goal.

Pompey made a double substitution in the 65th minute, with Jack Maloney and Ashley Harris replacing Walker and Akinde.

Filipe Morais then missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock in the 74th minute, woefully glancing wide Luke Freeman’s delivery from the right from close range.

There was a set-to in the 78th minute when Ertl reacted angrily to a Grant challenge and then Moutaouakil tangled with the Boro midfielder.

It appeared Moutaouakil had led with his head, sparking chaos among the players, but the full-back and Grant earned only bookings.

It spiced up the game, with substitute Webster firing in a header which was dealt with by the keeper and, minutes later, he sent a snap-shot over the bar.

Yet, after four minutes of time added on, during which time Haber hit the bar for the visitors, it finished a goalless draw.

League One

POMPEY 0

STEVENAGE 0

Att: 12,036 (531 away fans)

Pompey: Eastwood, Moutaouakil (Webster 79), Gyepes, Rocha, Cooper, Wallace, Racon, Ertl, Walker (Maloney 65), Akinde (Harris 65), Connolly. Smith, Sodje, Butler, Awford.

Stevenage: Arnold, Gray, Roberts, Ngala, Grant (Mahon 81), Dunne, Morais (Comminges 85), Ehmer, Akins, Freeman, Lopez (Haber). Subs: Day, Hills, Smith, Deacon.

Referee: Christopher Sarginson (Staffs).