Crawley 0 Pompey 0

Matt Tubbs is denied by Crawley keeper Freddie Woodman. Picture: Joe Pepler
Matt Tubbs is denied by Crawley keeper Freddie Woodman. Picture: Joe Pepler
Kenny Jackett. Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey boss can request transfers – but not getting them might be better solution

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Michael Doyle warned there were going to be games like this.

An evening of complete footballing dominance by Pompey at the Broadfield Stadium, yet the goal refused to arrive.

Paul Cook’s men huffed and puffed throughout, they attacked Crawley at will over the 90-minute duration with boundless enthusiasm and generous patience.

Yet the hosts kept them at bay to ensure last night would remain goalless.

Disappointment then for the Blues and their 1,706 travelling support to bring to an end three successive victories in all competitions since the season’s start.

And the first throes of frustration as sides seek to blunt the effectiveness of a team which clearly will be promotion challengers during the campaign.

Crawley barely showed an intent to win it, indeed their home supporters applauded them off at the break following a first-half in which they rarely threatened.

In fairness, they defended superbly, also demonstrating a guts and determination which will serve them proud under Mark Yates.

That effort and energy ensured Pompey’s goal-scoring opportunities were kept to a minimum.

For all their possession of the ball, not nearly enough chances were created to win it.

So a draw it was then and a first occurence of two points dropped, regardless of having arrived on their travels.

At the final whistle how the home faithful cheered, while the frustration was eminent on the faces of the Pompey players.

Not quite the victory Cook’s men felt they could have secured, not to take too much away from Yates’ men.

Earlier in the day Doyle had warned of teams shutting up shop in response to the impressive early Pompey form this season.

And he was absolutely spot on.

For a third successive league game, Cook named the same match-day 18 as he attempted to secure a positive result at the Broadfield Stadium.

With victories in the previous two League Two outings, the Blues boss saw no reason to alter his in-form starting XI.

In addition, the seven-man bench was unchanged, despite the return to fitness of Adam Barton and James Dunne in recent weeks.

Ben Close was another missing out, regardless of his eye-catching performance against Derby in the Capital One Cup and last week having been awarded a fresh deal.

So it was as you were for Pompey, as the favoured 4-2-3-1 system which had produced a 100-per-cent win ratio in all competitions continued.

As for Crawley, they named former Blues player Sonny Bradley at left-back – and as their skipper.

Having kicked off, it was Pompey who created the first attacking moment within the opening two minutes.

Ben Davies dispossessed Gwion Edwards and combined with Gareth Evans down the right before delivering a low cross towards the far post which Joe McNerney forced out for a corner.

On five minutes, Doyle produced the visitors’ first shot with a fierce left-foot drive from 35-yards which flew comfortably over the bar and smacked against the stand roof behind the goal.

Matt Tubbs then had a glorious opportunity to net when Nigel Atangana slipped through a sublime through ball on nine minutes.

Yet having taken a touch, the striker’s shot was dealt with by the on-rushing Freddie Woodman, who produced a block before pouncing on the loose ball.

At the other end, in the 24th minute Luke Rooney sent in a free-kick from the right which Edwards met with a header which flew well over.

Pompey’s response was Doyle feeding Kyle Bennett down the left channel and the winger twisted and turned his way into the penalty area before driving a right-foot shot inches over the bar.

On 32 minutes, patient build-up from the Blues saw Roberts deliver a pass to Davies and once again the right-back produced a dangerous low cross which was scrambled behind for a corner.

A brilliant pass from his own half from Christian Burgess then released Tubbs down the right-hand side of the penalty area but McNerney came across superbly with a block before he could shoot.

Pompey attacked the end housing their fans in the second half and within minutes Roberts had fired in a testing cross which was well gathered by Woodman as Tubbs flew in.

Cook made his first substitution on 52 minutes when Davies was replaced by Adam McGurk, with Evans dropping to right-back.

The visitors continued to dominate possession and were in firm control, yet that vital breakthrough was eluding them as Crawley sat deeper and deeper.

On 59 minutes, Edwards cut in from the left and drove a shot into the side netting, prompting some home fans to rise to their feet and cheer in the mistaken belief it had entered the net.

Crawley’s Lee Barnard, who has suffered regular attention from the Pompey fans due to his Southampton past, was substituted on 64 minutes, with Matt Harrold coming on.

Still the Blues poured forward and McGurk, who was looking lively, produced a left-foot snap shot which the keeper failed to hold and was scrambled clear.

Tubbs did get the ball into the net on 68 minutes yet the linesman’s flag had long been raised for offside and the finish didn’t count.

With the match still deadlocked, Cook used his final two substitutions on 81 minutes, with Jayden Stockley and Conor Chaplin for Tubbs and Bennett.

But the decisive goal just would not arrive for determined Pompey and it ended goalless at Crawley.