Pompey 2 - Leeds United 2

Joel Ward celebrates scoring Pompey's first goal in the 2-2 with Leeds United at Fratton Park.
Joel Ward celebrates scoring Pompey's first goal in the 2-2 with Leeds United at Fratton Park.
Christian Burgess in action against Bury. Picture: Joe Pepler

No apologies for Pompey winning ugly

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So out of the darkness comes light. For so long the gloom had engulfed Fratton Park mercilessly, refusing to relinquish its permanent stranglehold.

Those dark clouds have certainly become regular fixtures in the Frogmore Road sky over the past few years.

Even in the past week the outlook has continued to look bleak.

There have been threats of demonstrations as the ever-put-upon natives have grown restless to the stage of breaking point.

Forget a warm welcome for low-profile joint-owners Balram Chainrai and Levi Kushnir on their Fratton return, the reception was going to be red hot.

As for the team, it continues to be short on players and even shorter on fresh recruits as the transfer window ticks down.

Why, on Saturday the ground was even plunged into deepening shadows when a power cut shut down the floodlights on three occasions.

How those visiting Leeds fans gloated when, in truth, it was an external problem and nothing to do with the club.

If only Pompey’s finances could be in the black on a regular basis.

Yet, amid all the depression, on Saturday hope was born.

In the grand scale of things, a point at home should carry very little significance, particularly for a side with a first XI as talented as the Blues.

Disappointingly, it also kept up a winless home run stretching back to October 30 when Nottingham Forest were the last to leave empty handed.

Surely little reason to be cheerful?

The truth is, Pompey fans will accept any crumb of comfort at present – whether it be the possible arrival of David Norris, the hand of friendship from David Lampitt or Joel Ward in talks over a new contract.

Of course, trumping it all would be Chainrai and Kushnir breaking their self-imposed vow of silence and answering the questions the fans want to ask.

Not that it will ever happen, you understand.

That is unless Sky Sports or Bloomberg come calling again.

Still, against Leeds, that optimism was provided in the form of a 2-2 draw.

A point, a veritable point, a first point of 2011 and a point which brings a shuddering stop to a run of three league defeats on the spin.

That’s four defeats if you include the FA Cup humbling at Brighton.

And all against an impressive Leeds side boasting the likes of talented duo Robert Snodgrass and Luciano Becchio.

What’s more, it’s a team which continues to maintain a promotion push.

Of course, Steve Cotterill’s men could have even been cradling all three points on Saturday night, while those fans that had packed the Milton end so impressively fled back up the M1.

Had it not been for the ever-familiar sight of some shoddy Pompey defending, that would definitely have been the case.

Twice the hosts took the lead and twice they surrendered it.

Still, let’s just be grateful for that prized point and suddenly there remains a shaft of light piercing the Fratton Park darkness.

Not that a draw with Leeds solves all the problems, far from it.

Cotterill needs more bodies, he needs to be allowed to keep his current squad together, he needs time to build and, yes, the owners need to speak.

For the time being, though, Leeds represents a step forwards, with an encouraging home performance thrown in for good measure.

And all in front of the biggest Fratton Park crowd of the season – 20,040.

That first half, in particular, was one of the best by a Cotterill side this season as they launched into Leeds’ jugular at breathtaking pace.

It was a breakneck tempo which produced one goal, saw the bar struck and threatened to add more goals in every sweet momentum in the direction of the visitors’ goal.

No wonder three-quarters of the ground wore dazzling smiles come the half-time whistle.

It was Ward who made the dominance pay with a 26th-minute opener of stunning quality.

The youngster, who failed to convince his manager at the start of the season, continues to blossom in the first-team environment.

And there was the campaign’s ray of light again on Saturday, retaining his unaccustomed midfield role to pop up with only his second Pompey career goal.

Liam Lawrence instigated it down the left, cutting in before prodding the ball into Ward’s direction just before tumbling in the box.

The 21-year-old stepped forward to unleash a first-time 20-yard drive which fizzed past Kasper Schmeichel and into the back of the net.

Earlier, Greg Halford had struck the bar following a Lawrence right-wing corner, while David Nugent had wasted two other great opportunities.

So Pompey headed in at the break a goal to the good – then came the inevitable Leeds fightback.

Within 70 seconds of the restart, Carl Dickinson failed to pick up Jonathan Howson’s run behind him as Snodgrass pinged in a free-kick to the far post.

The visitors’ captain squared for Becchio to steer the ball home from close range and make it all square.

On 61 minutes, Jamie Ashdown’s booming goal-kick was flicked on by Kanu and John Utaka wriggled in between Paul Connolly and Alex Bruce to net.

Barely three minutes later, though, Becchio’s throughball picked out substitute Davide Somma, who took one touch before sweeping the ball home in clinical fashion.

There was still time for the floodlights to twice go out, following on from a very brief absence in the first half.

On both occasions, referee Anthony Taylor was forced the stop the match – frustratingly the first time was when Utaka was clean through on the Leeds goal.

It added a touch of farce to the proceedings, although on this occasion it was nothing to do with the football club.

Coincidentally, when the clubs last met at Fratton Park back in November 2003, the match was also delayed by floodlight failure – on that occasion the hosts cantered to a 6-1 victory in the end.

A point it is, though, which is something to be cherished at this moment in time.

Finally something tangible and positive out of Pompey rather than just promises.

And for that we all should be beaming.