Ian Foster: It’s a shame Pompey fans missed out

Ian Foster. Picture: Joe Pepler
Ian Foster. Picture: Joe Pepler
Pompey fans enjoyed a 2-1 win on their last visit to the Memorial Stadium. Picture: Joe Pepler

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Ian Foster is adamant Fratton Park’s lowest post-war crowd were rewarded by witnessing an entertaining encounter.

An attendance of 1,355 was last night present for the Blues’ Checkatrade Trophy clash with Reading under-23s.

In the process, it beat the 2,318 recorded against Bristol City in the Anglo-Italian Cup in August 1993.

In terms of match action, Pompey had to recover from falling two goals behind to Martin Kuhl’s visitors, Curtis Main the hero after striking twice in six minutes.

That 2-2 draw meant a penalty shootout was enforced, with the Royals running out 4-3 winners, despite Liam O’Brien saving three times.

Pompey remain in contention to qualify from Southern Group A with one match remaining – next month’s visit of Bristol Rovers.

And Paul Cook’s first-team coach believes last night had proven an excellent match to watch, regardless of circumstances.

Foster said: ‘It almost felt like it is before the game when the players have their warm-up.

‘There’s an empty stadium with a few thousand in already and you get that atmosphere when the lads come out – but it just wasn’t there last night.

‘In fairness, the fans got behind us in the second half and made a lot of noise, which was great.

‘What can you do, it’s the situation. The fans don’t have a great feel for the Checkatrade Trophy as a competition and that’s not just in Portsmouth, that’s throughout the country.

‘It’s a shame because a lot of people missed out on a very good game.

‘You don’t want to have a crowd of 1,355 in your record books for a first-team game, but the people who turned up did smashing for the players.

‘It was a smashing game, I really enjoyed it. High tempo, loads of chances, really good play from both teams, both teams trying to play in the right manner – it was an exciting game of football.

‘I didn’t think we ever felt we should have been 2-0 down and showed great character to get back into the game.

‘With 30 minutes to go we were in the ascendancy and I genuinely thought there was only one team in it.’

On a sour note for Pompey, Adam Buxton injured his right ankle in the 44th minute and had to be replaced by Gareth Evans.

It was an aggravation of the problem which sidelined the right-back earlier in the season.

Now the Blues’ medical staff will assess the full extent of the complaint.

Foster added: ‘We are all gutted for Adam because he has worked really, really hard on his fitness, working above and beyond.

‘It was one of those tackles, he has rolled the same ankle, it’s unfortunate, he’s a brave kid, a good lad and will get his head down and do more work.

‘We will see how it settles down in the next 24 hours.’