Smith shrugs off Pompey frustration to revel in leveller

Michael Smith celebrates his goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
Michael Smith celebrates his goal. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Michael Smith savoured opening his League Two goal account this season – and admitted his Pompey frustration.

The substitute pounced in the 82nd minute to earn Paul Cook’s side a deserved draw at Cheltenham.

Saturday marked only his second league appearance since Spetember’s loss at Blackpool.

Smith has seen Conor Chaplin, Noel Hunt and, at one stage, Curtis Main clamber above him in the Blues’ striking stakes.

A summer move from Swindon Town swiftly turned sour for the softly-spoken 25-year-old.

But he revelled in a rare opportunity at Whaddon Road to seal a 1-1 draw.

He said: ‘It has been frustrating being out but you have just got to get your head down in training, keep working hard and doing your own thing.

‘It was the right place at the right time on Saturday.

‘I was just glad to see the ball hit the back of the net, I have missed that feeling.

‘It’s been a while since scoring at Yeovil in the Checkatrade Trophy.

‘I had a chance last weekend and should have done better but at least I am in there to miss them and was chuffed to get on the scoresheet.

‘You cannot describe the feeling of scoring, whether in training or in front of the Pompey fans, there was a bit of emotion when I scored that goal.

‘I missed a bit of pre-season through injury but wouldn’t want to use that as an excuse, I didn’t miss as much as I did the season before. I like to think I am quite fit anyway.

‘I cannot put my finger on why it hasn’t clicked for me this season, I have kept my head down, worked hard in training and that is all I can do.

‘Everyone in that changing room wants to play football so when you are not playing you obviously struggle a bit but that is part of the job.

‘You have to be mentally tough. I have been in that situation before, you know your chance is going to come again and thankfully I was able to take mine on Saturday.’

Smith replaced Kyle Bennett in the 75th minute as Cook matched him up with Conor Chaplin in attack.

Then when Russell Griffiths failed to hold Carl Baker’s cross, he swooped for the leveller.

He added: ‘We were unfortunate not to take the lead early on. We created some really good chances, in the second half we were unbelievable.

‘The gaffer alluded to it afterwards.

‘It was probably the best spell he had seen from us all season with the chances created, it was unfortunate we didn’t score more goals.

‘I was warming up when Cheltenham scored, getting a bit of stick from their fans, but that’s football.

‘There were still 25 minutes to go and it only takes a few seconds to score, plenty of time, and I managed to get on the scoresheet.’