Pompey forced to settle for a point

David Connolly scored a brace in the 2-2 draw at Accrington Picture: Ste Jones
David Connolly scored a brace in the 2-2 draw at Accrington Picture: Ste Jones
Guy Whittingham celebrates his goal against Bristol Rovers during the 1992-93 season MAYOAK0002893915

Quarter of century on from one of the great Pompey sides

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Four second-half goals saw the spoils shared between Pompey and Accrington today.

Two goals apiece from David Connolly and Peter Murphy saw a 2-2 draw played out in a breathless clash at the Crown Ground.

Connolly’s double looked to have seen Guy Whittingham’s side come from behind to grab a win, after Murphy’s 35-yarder opened the scoring three minutes after the break.

But it was the midfielder who bundled the leveller home three minutes from time to frustrate a Blues side who carved out a host of chances.

There was a clear handball in the box from Rob Atkinson in the second half among the swathe of Pompey opportunities.

It took 32 seconds for the home side to carve out a clear chance when Marcus Carver headed Nicky Hunt’s cross wide when well placed.

Patrick Agyemang was seeing plenty of the ball early on, with his hold-up play impressing.

Connolly then volleyed Jed Wallace’s quick free-kick wide, before Kal Naismith shot over the top in the 16th minute.

Two minutes later, the buzzing Andy Barcham had a shot deflected for a corner which Sonny Bradley headed goalwards, before Michael Liddle cleared off the line.

Barcham’s determination should have seen Pompey in front in the 24th minute, when he chased a lost cause and squared, but Agyemang bundled the ball wide under pressure.

Danny East was having a solid game at left-back but went into the book two minutes later for clattering Hunt.

Peter Murphy then had a shot saved, before Bradley put another header wide from a corner.

Pompey had two great chances before the half was out to make the breakthrough.

First, Agyemang brilliantly took a high ball down, spun the Accy defence and fired at goal.

Keeper Dunbavin saved his first effort and then gathered with the loose ball tricking in.

Then the excellent Barcham ran half the length of the pitch and beat three men, before Dunbavin saved his left-footed drive.

Not taking one of the chances which had come their way came back to haunt Pompey three minutes after the restart when Accy made the breakthrough.

It was a beautifully-crafted finish from 35 yards, too, from Murphy after being teed up by Danny Webber.

But Phil Smith will perhaps have felt he could have got a stronger hand to the shot.

Pompey were wilting after going behind and Bradley then had to clear Michael Richardson’s shot off the line.

But the visitors were always creating chances, and they were rewarded with the leveller after 57 minutes.

Romain Padovani provided the pass for Agyemang, who held off the Stanley defence and freed Connolly, who made no mistake.

Padovani then so nearly found the back of the net from 35 yards with a peach of a strike which Dunbavin saved well.

Pompey were asking all the questions now and Stanley again had Dunbavin to thank for saving from Barcham.

Then a clear handball in the box from Richardson wasn’t given as the visitors continued to push.

Pompey’s pressure was finally rewarded with 11 minutes left – and it was that man Connolly who was key.

He advanced into the penalty area and was bundled over by Hunt, and the 36-year-old coolly stepped up to send Dunbavin the wrong way.

Yassin Moutaouakil then did an outstanding piece of defensive work to acrobatically clear off the line and maintain his side’s lead.

But that meant nothing when Murphy bundled a header home moments later from Tom Aldred’s header across goal.

There was still time for sub Ryan Bird to fire over when well placed.

That meant Pompey were left with to take a point from a game they would have felt they warranted a greater return from.