Final-day agony as Portsmouth let play-offs slip from grasp to Oxford United after dispiriting Accrington defeat
Pompey suffered final-day heartbreak as they fell to a weak 1-0 loss against Accrintgton to dash play-off hopes.
Danny Cowley’s side were left to rue an insipid first-half performance in which Adam Phillips struck, as they let a top-six place slip from their grasp - claimed instead by Oxford United.
The damage could have been worse at the break on a deeply dispiriting afternoon, before the Blues side belatedly found some spirit in the second half.
For all their bluster, though, Pompey couldn’t find their way through on a day of massive disappointment which ends the Cowley’s current period in charge and, in all likelihood, the Fratton careers of many players.
The first chance came Pompey’s way in a frantic and disjointed opening as John Marquis was put clear by Ronan Curtis’ ball but Toby Savin smothered his finish.
It was the Blues who fell behind in the 23rd minute, though, as Phillips was afforded the freedom of the Pompey box to smash a finish home from Harvey Rodgers’ cross.
Player of the season Craig MacGillivray then had to dive full length to keep out Phillips’ 35-yard piledriver free-kick before Ben Barclay put a free header wide.
Curtis’ whipped ball at the end of the half caused Accrington panic but went all the way across the face of goal.
But there was then a huge let-off as Bishop powered home Sean McConville’s cross at the end of the half but the flag went up.
With Oxford winning 2-0 at the break, Pompey knew they had 45 minutes to turn a deficit into a win to secure a top-six spot.
Two quickfire chances came Curtis’ way as he first went alone and his 30-yard effort went just past the post before he blazed over with time and space on the edge of the box.
Cowley went for broke with a triple change with 30 minutes as he sent on Jordy Hiwula, George Byers and Harvey White for Downing, Johnson and Close and went to a 3-4-3.
It was the Blues asking the questions from there on in, but without the fluency, cool head or player ready to step forward with a moment of quality.
Daniels had a late effort saved by Savin as he charged through on goal and Curtis’ free-kick was saved, but it wasn’t to be for Pompey as they were condemned to another season in League One.