The crucial cost of late Pompey misery

Morecambe keeper Barry Roche celebrates his goal against Pompey on Tuesday night Picture: Joe Pepler

Morecambe keeper Barry Roche celebrates his goal against Pompey on Tuesday night Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin. Picture: Joe Pepler

Catlin: Pompey right to stay patient in player hunt

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Imagine a scenario where Pompey are today perched confidently in League Two’s third spot.

What’s more, they lie five points adrift of second-placed Plymouth, yet promisingly possess two matches in hand.

The Pompey players look dejected after Barry Roche's equaliser for Morecambe Picture: Joe Pepler

The Pompey players look dejected after Barry Roche's equaliser for Morecambe Picture: Joe Pepler

Certainly a flight of fantasy, yet such fiction would have been fact had it not been for injury-time goals.

That is the price Paul Cook’s side have paid, having so far this season been cruelly robbed of a total of six points at the death.

The mid-week trip to Morecambe may have provided a first in Pompey’s 96-year Football League history, courtesy of keeper Barry Roche’s goal.

However, it also represented the third time this campaign the Blues have conceded an equaliser in four or more minutes of time added on.

And those lost points would have been enough to have positioned Cook’s side in the automatic promotion places with 19 fixtures remaining.

Instead, they find themselves six points short of Oxford United, who are in third, having played the same number of games.

And despite the large amount of fixtures still remaining, the Fratton faithful are well aware victories are required in the majority of those 19 matches to escape League Two.

Realistically, the alternative would be the play-offs. Unsurprisingly, some have already booked their London hotels for Monday, May 30.

The first setting for Pompey heartbreak under Cook occurred in October, when Stevenage visited Fratton Park.

The hosts were on target for a 1-0 triumph over Teddy Sheringham’s side following substitute Conor Chaplin’s 77th-minute strike.

That result would have taken the Blues back to the top of the table, above Plymouth Argyle.

Then, in the fifth minute of injury-time, Charlie Lee’s throw-in from the right was met with a Brett Williams header which looped agonisingly over Aaron McCarey.

A month later and it was Brunton Park which provided the backdrop to more Pompey pain.

Having fallen behind to Carlisle skipper Danny Grainger’s first-half penalty, Cook’s men stormed back following the interval.

Caolan Lavery and a first goal for fellow loanee Marc McNulty had put the hosts on track for a 2-1 triumph over Keith Curle’s team.

However, with the clock showing four minutes and 41 seconds into time added on, Grainger intervened spectacularly.

The left-back conjured up a ferocious right-foot shot from 25 yards which gave keeper Brian Murphy no chance in a gut-wrenching finale for those 953 away supporters.

To make matters worse, the result forced the Blues down a place to fourth in the table.

Roll on to Tuesday night, when Gareth Evans appeared to have secured the victory to take Cook’s men into fourth spot – four points before Oxford.

Yet four minutes into time added on, Shaun Miller delivered a left-wing corner headed home by Roche.

The Globe Arena erupted – while Pompey counted the cost of more late heartbreak.

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