Pompey surrender maiden away win

Pompey concede the leveller to Mansfield. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey concede the leveller to Mansfield. Picture: Joe Pepler

Paul Cook is set to swap Pompey for Wigan Picture: Joe Pepler

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A defensive nightmare cost Pompey victory today as they drew 2-2 at Mansfield.

Sub Lindon Meikle’s goal meant Guy Whittingham’s side had to settle for a point at Field Mill.

Meikle fired home in the 72nd minute after keeper Phil Smith collided with his own defenders attempting to claim a cross – with no Mansfiled player in attendance.

That cancelled out first-half goals from Andy Barcham and David Connolly – with Barcham’s sizzling 60-yard run key to their second.

The Blues showed their attacking quality after Ben Hutchinson had smashed the Stags in front with a fine strike from 30 yards.

But Pompey will look at it as two points dropped when considering the manner in which Mansfield levelled.

Whittingham sprung a surprise when he made a single change from the side who beat Morecambe 3-0 last weekend.

But it wasn’t skipper Johnny Ertl, after a three-game ban, who came back in – but Bondz N’Gala, who made his league debut in place of Yassin Moutaouakil.

Pompey made a bright start with Jed Wallace firing wide early on and a surging run from Barcham winning a corner.

But the visitors were having their moments – with Calvin Andrew’s shot from 25 yards deflected over the top.

Pompey failed to make a succession of corners count inside the first 20 minutes with their delivery poor.

Phil Smith then had to be alert to deny James Jennings before Connolly fired off the post from a tight angle after 24 minutes.

But the visitors made the breakthrough 12 minutes before the break with a super strike from Hutchinson.

The striker smashed the ball home with a dipping, swerving effort from 30 yards which had Smith beaten.

Pompey superbly turned it around before the break, however, with Barcham key to both goals.

The electric winger was there to smash home the leveller after 39 minutes from Wallace’s perfect cutback.

And Barcham then surged from the half-way line before seeing a left-footed effort saved by Alan Marriott – but Connolly was there to tuck away the loose ball.

Smith had to be alert to make a great stop to maintain Pompey’s lead two minutes after the restart.

Andrew surged into the box but Smith saved well at his feet – with home fans vainly appealing for a penalty.

The Pompey keeper then did well again to keep out Jamie McGuire’s volley at the second attempt.

Mansfield were asking the questions now and there were more penalty appeals turned down as Marcos Painter and Andrew tussled in the box.

Connolly was still a threat, though, and fired over on the turn after taking Wallace’s cross.

Pompey’s lead evaporated in terrible style with 18 minutes left, though, as sub Meikle levelled.

Former Hawks striker Ollie Palmer did well to keep a high cross in play and looped it towards the Pompey goal.

There was no yellow shirt near to Smith, though, as he went up to collect the ball.

But two Pompey defenders impeded the keeper as he went to claim and he dropped the cross – allowing Meikle to fire home.

And that proved to be critical with the Blues forced on to the back foot for the remainder of the game.

The result leaves Pompey on five points and tucked in mid-table in League Two.

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