Brave 10-man Portsmouth floored by stoppage-time defeat at Oxford United

Nathan Holland’s stoppage-time winner broke 10-man Pompey hearts against Oxford today.

By Jordan Cross
Saturday, 5th February 2022, 6:43 pm

Nathan Holland struck a late, late finish from outside the box to see it finish 3-2 to the home side and deny Danny Cowley’s gutsy men a point.

Ronan Curtis ended his goal drought and looked to have won it in front of 1,700 travelling Blues fans six minutes after the restart.

But Cameron Brannagan’s superb 25 yarder levelled it up in the 82nd minute before Holland’s sickening winner.

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Pompey lose it late at Oxford today

That came after a first half which saw goals from Luke McNally, the impressive Michael Jacobs and a red card for Joe Morrell - before a ‘medical incident’ at the break delayed the second half starting.

Failing to come away with the win was a blow for Pompey after they battled so hard for 74 minutes with 10 men - but the away fans could return down the A34 knowing their men are still fighting for the cause this season.

Luke McNally made the early breakthrough for the home side, as he was left all on his own to head home form a corner.

Pompey responded impressively with a lovely leveller, as Ronan Curtis’ backheel took out the home defence and Kieron Freeman cut the ball back for Jacobs to calmly finish.

The game swung on a red card for Morrell in the 16th minute when the ref decided his foot was high on Cameron Brannagan.

That allowed the home side to assume the ascendancy, with Gavin Bazunu producing a superb block to deny Brannagan from 12 yards nine minutes before the break.

George Hirst missed a massive chance to put his side in front just before the break, with Jack Stevens allowed to save with his feet. That came after the striker picked up a yellow for flooring Elliott Moore with a strong challenge.

The second half’s start was delayed with a ‘medical incident’ taking place as the players left the pitch. With rumours of a tunnel bust-up circulating it was later reported an Oxford backroom staff member had banged his head.

Pompey’ determination to stay in the game was rewarded six minutes after the restart, as Hirst and Jacobs combined to put Curtis clear and the Irishman calmly swept the ball past Jack Stevens.

The pattern was set for the rest of the game, as Oxford pushed for the leveller and Pompey defender stoically - often putting their bodies on the line.

Bazunu made another two good stops to deny Bodin and Brannagan in quick succession.

The fourth official indicated 10 minutes stoppage time after a second-half injury to Kieron Freeman.

And then came the late pain six minutes into that period as Holland’s drive from outside the box cannoned into the net via the post to floor brave Pompey.