Pompey frustrated by Fratton stalemate

Simon Eastwood denies Preston forward Chris Beardsley
Simon Eastwood denies Preston forward Chris Beardsley

Gaffer: Surreal experience but a deserved Pompey win

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Izale McLeod’s missed penalty against Preston cost Pompey the chance of finally ending their winless run.

The Blues haven’t won since defeating Shrewsbury 3-1 on October 20.

That statistic was stretched after a goalless draw with the Lilywhites at Fratton Park this afternoon.

Yet it could have been a very different tale after McLeod won a spot-kick in the 14th minute, following a nudge by Chris Robertson.

Pompey’s top goalscorer stepped up to take it himself but crashed his effort against the crossbar.

It was a fourth penalty miss of the season by the Blues – and a second from McLeod.

In an at times lively first half, Jake Jervis and Scott Allan saw efforts from distance well saved by Preston keeper Thorsten Stuckmann.

But after the break the hosts couldn’t carve out enough goal-scoring opportunities, although the visiting keeper magnificently saved from Allan.

In the end, Guy Whittingham’s men had to settle for a third successive draw in a week in which the confirmation of a 10-point deduction leaves them in a relegation battle.

Pompey wasted a glorious chance to take the lead after just two minutes during a rapid counter-attack.

It was three-on-one for the hosts when Scott Allan sped down the right.

The midfielder then squared the ball to Jake Jervis who then passed to Izale McLeod in an off-side position and the promise was gone.

Darel Russell had the hosts’ first shot of the game, although his fierce 12th-minute effort screwed wide from inside the box.

Yet in the 14th minute they won a penalty, when McLeod received a nudge from Robertson inside the box.

The Blues’ leading scorer stepped up to take it but smashed his shot against the crossbar, with the ball ricocheting some 20 yards.

At the other end, Simon Eastwood pulled off a smart low save to keep out Joel Byrom’s angled drive from inside the box.

Jervis was then an agonising yard short of winning a second penalty when Bailey Wright tripped him following a clever turn.

Wright was booked, while Jervis’ free-kick was hammered straight into the wall and came to nothing.

On 38 minutes, another counter-attack saw Jervis unleash a 25-yard effort which Stuckmann did well to push around the post.

As the half drew to a close, Stuckmann produced a another magnificent save from Allan – finger-tipping his powerful drive over the bar.

Eastwood then brilliantly conjured up a double point-blank stop to thwart Anthony Elding and then Chris Beardsley.

The game fell flat after the break, although in the 59th minute Eastwood forced Beardsley’s shot around the post.

Pompey had plenty of the ball but could find no way through the Preston defence on a surface that was cutting up.

Stuckmann did, however, pull off a superb one-handed save while grounded to deny Allan in the 85th minute.

That was Pompey’s final goal attempt as the match finished goalless.