The 27 years of Portsmouth play-off pain continues - with questions to answer on why it happened like this
The 27 years of play-off hurt continues.
Pompey’s pain in the end-of-season deciders goes on with yet another story of woe at the Kassam Stadium.
For the first time in this setting it’s the heartache of penalties which delivered the Blues’ downfall.
And once again Pompey have those moments which will be painfully etched in their history books.
Cameron McGeehan was the spot-kick fall guy from the 12-yard lottery.
But the Blues will look to the last seconds of the first-half as decisive in a game which was quite frankly dreadful and wanting for quality for long periods.
Ellis Harrison’s own goal on the stroke of half-time with Kenny Jackett’s men in the ascendancy was key on an evening in which the fear of failure was palpable throughout.
James Henry’s corner was played into Alex Bass’ territory, but with the young keeper failing to take charge of the situation the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Questions will be asked about the manner in which Pompey failed to seize initiative for the second year. These are the factors which will define this disappointment.
It’s become increasingly apparent through the season and underlined in this play-off battle: there’s very little between these two sides.
With a quick turnaround and the sight of the visitors tiring in the first leg, the hope was the deeper the tie went the more it would suit Jackett’s men.
A match-up of the two squads cemented that view with Pompey’s quality, by any reasonable assessment, stretching further than their opponents.
The suspicion the Blues boss would utilise those numbers proved well founded with the full-backs switched up and Ryan Williams introduced, as Harness was afforded the number 10 position.
But for much of the evening what we saw was two sides effective at cancelling each other out.
While Pompey flew out of the traps at Fratton, John Westwood and his cronies perched on pallets atop of a flatbed van in the ground’s car park, watched a disjointed affair short on fluidity.
It was ugly with the fear of failure stinking out the Kassam Stadium.
The longer the game continued in that fashion, the more the feeling was it would be a single moment of quality of controversy which would decide it.
Step forward Marcus Harness, or so we thought.
The hit from the attacking talent seven minutes before the break was a rare moment of quality. Rare enough to believe it could well be decisive.
What followed, however, was the next chapter in Pompey’s Play-off Circus of Horrors.
After that leveller, reticence reigned. Hesitancy dominated over a desire to leave it all on the pitch. For both teams. The inquest over taking that approach with the stakes so high will be forceful and fierce, no doubt ugly.
But ultimately the record books tell of us eight play-off games and no wins with a period of reflection required about how this narrative unfolded.
On a night when the the demand was to leave this godforsaken play-off arena with no regrets, Pompey sadly failed.