Pompey claim draw at Grecians

Andy Barcham in action against Exeter today Picture: Joe Pepler
Andy Barcham in action against Exeter today Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey had to settle for a point on the opening day of the new League Two season, after they were held to a 1-1 draw by Exeter at St James Park today.

Tom Nicholls’ 26th-minute effort gave the home side the advantage in a mixed opening half for Andy Awford’s side.

But Pompey responded brilliantly in the second period to equalise through Jed Wallace’s fine strike from the edge of the area - before being left frustrated as their second-half endeavours failed to produce a much-deserved winner.

In what proved to be a mostly forgettable first half, Pompey initially looked the most threatening in front of goal, with Wallace firing against the side netting from an acute angle and then shooting narrowly over from the edge of the box.

Grecians left-wing-back Craig Woodman replied with a shot from distance but, as the Blues looked to stamp their authority on the game, defender Nicky Shorey ventured forward - only to see his effort with the outside of his left foot narrowly miss keeper Christy Pym’s left-hand post.

As Pompey looked comfortable, though, the home side opened the scoring on 26 minutes when Nicholls was given time in a crowded box to drill an effort past Paul Jones and into the bottom corner.

The home side were lifted by the goal, and although Ryan Taylor and Craig Westcarr threatened on 39 minutes, it was Exeter who finished the stronger as Jimmy Keohane turned Jack Whatmough in the penalty area and stung the hands of Jones on the stroke of half-time.

Pompey’s response in the second half lifted the 1,548 travelling away supporters as Adam Webster headed over the lively Wallace’s inch-perfect cross, before Westcarr won the ball off Matt Oakley to force Pym into a save to his left.

Ten minutes after the interval, Wallace also forced the home keeper into a save after he shot from long-range, following Whatmough’s strong run out of defence.

The Pompey fans sensed an equaliser was coming - reinforced by Barcham being denied by Pym after he burst through - and it duly arrived on 73 minutes when Wallace cut in from the right and fired left-footed through a host of bodies and into Pym’s bottom right-hand corner.

The Blues tried desperately to build on their leveller, with Whatmough and substitute Nigel Atangana among those trying their luck in front of goal.

Some late pressure resulted in a host of corners in front of the now vocal Blues support, and Pompey thought their sterling second-half efforts were to be rewarded at the depth, only for Wallace to fire agonisingly over from the edge of the box.

There was relief all round at the final whistle among the home fans, but Pompey will feel aggrieved their second-half display didn’t result in an opening day win.

See today’s Sports Mail for full report and pictures