Smith rescues point for Pompey

Michael Smith celebrates scoring his equaliser against Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler

Michael Smith celebrates scoring his equaliser against Cheltenham Picture: Joe Pepler

Alex Bass is currently the only keeper on Pompey's books. Picture: Joe Pepler

Cook’s familiar summer talent search

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Michael Smith climbed off the bench to rescue Pompey a late point as they battled to a 1-1 draw at Cheltenham Town today.

Daniel O’Shaughnessy’s second-half strike looked to have earned the Robins all three points from an entertaining contest at Whaddon Road, with Paul Cook’s side lamenting a number of missed chances.

But the visitors claimed a share of the spoils - the minimum they deserved - when substitute Smith scrambled home eight minutes from time after home stopper Russell Griffiths spilled Carl Baker’s low cross.

The result saw the promotion-chasing Blues fall one place, to fifth in the League Two table.

In a lively start to proceedings, two Robins players were cautioned in quick succession with skipper Aaron Downes following Harry Pell into the book.

The home side also saw appeals for a penalty - when Danny Wright fell under the attention of Blues captain Michael Doyle - waved away by referee John Brooks.

Pompey had the better of the chances in the first half with the lively Baker testing Griffiths from the edge of the box, before Danny Rose did similar.

Wright then teed up Pell for the hosts but his effort deflected behind for a corner.

The best chance of the half arrived right at the end of it, though, when Gareth Evans’ inviting cross was by Baker’s diving header - only for Griffiths to save well at point-blank range.

The first-half lacked clear-cut chances but there were three for the Blues at the start of the second period as Gary Roberts was played in one on one by Baker - only to telegraph his left-footed shot - with Griffiths reading his intentions.

Conor Chaplin was then picked out at the far post by Evans - but Griffiths again got down well to keep out his goal-bound header.

Bennett then came the closest yet for Cook’s side as he worked some space on the edge of the area before sending a low shot crashing against the post and away to safety.

The Robins then had their best chance of the game when Pell’s header fell invitingly for Wright to volley at goal from close range - a skill he failed to execute, sending his effort over the crossbar.

But moments later it failed to matter as the Robins made the all-important breakthrough.

Burgess saw yellow for a rash tackle on Dan Holman and from the resulting free-kick Daniel Rowe’s delivery fell in the area to O’Shuahgnessy whose shot beat the dive of David Forde - despite the Blues keeper getting a hand on it.

And no sooner had the hosts taken the lead, they threatened a second, which Rob Dickie really should have provided - inexplicably firing wide from close range.

And the Robins were made to pay with eight minutes left to play when substitute Smith levelled the scores after Baker’s cross was spilled by Griffiths at his near post.

The goal was Smith’s first in League Two this season.

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