Sligo Rovers 3 Pompey 3: Neil Allen's match report
Pompey began their pre-season by surrendering a three-goal lead as they were held to a 3-3 draw at Sligo Rovers last night.
The occasion of Gavin Peers’ testimonial was always going to be a gentle introduction to match action following the summer return eight days earlier.
Sure enough, it enabled Paul Cook to field 21 of his 23 travelling squad, with only Curtis Main and Alex Bass not to be given a run out.
Yet they couldn’t eke out the victory which appeared assured at half-time, having entered the break with a 3-0 lead.
A total of 52 players were used at the rainy Showgrounds in the fixture to mark defender Peers’ 11 years at the SSE Airtricity League premier division side.
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Yet it appeared returning manager Cook, who spent six years as manager of the club, was going to leave with a win.
Conor Chaplin netted twice with Gary Roberts grabbing the other during a first-half against an opposition containing former team-mates of Peers.
The interval saw Sligo’s first-team pressed into action and, inspired by Kieran Sadlier, they forced a 3-3 draw.
Pompey fans were last season used to conceding late goals and there was that familiar feeling once more when the hosts netted twice in the final five minutes to share the spoils.
Still, the fixture provided Cook with the opportunity to run the rule over four triallists and the majority of his summer recruits, with a trip to Bohemians on Saturday next up.
The deadlock was broken on nine minutes when Chaplin pulled the ball back from the right, allowing Roberts time to control and tap into an empty net.
That lead was extended eight minutes later when Ciaran Kelly blocked Roberts’ charge into the six-yard box and Chaplin steered the ball home.
In the 40th minute, Chaplin grabbed his second of the match when he calmly finished past Kelly having been put through by Roberts.
Milan Lalkovic should have opened his account on the stroke of half-time when he fired wide when well-placed.
The interval would see the introduction of 19 new players, of which nine came in Pompey colours.
Only Roberts and Chaplin remained, with triallists Chris Sessegnon and Eric Grimes among those who entered from the bench.
As for Sligo, their changes represented their regular first-team.
Grimes was called into a save immediately, diving low to his right to keep out Kieran Sadlier’s well-struck effort – the striker’s follow-up hitting the side-netting.
The hosts were then awarded a penalty on 69 minutes when Phil Roberts was fouled by Tom Davies – Peers stepping up to finish from the spot.
On 85 minutes the advantage was reduced to one goal when Raffaele Cretaro prevented the ball going out on the touchline after going past Grimes and his cross was forced in by Sadlier.
Barely two minutes later and Sligo had their leveller, Sadlier lashing home a smart finish as the occasion finished 3-3.
Pompey: Crowe (46 mins Grimes), Talbot (46 mins Sessegnon), Burgess (46 mins Davies), Whatmough (46 mins Barton), Haunstrup (46 mins Stevens), May (46 mins Close), Doyle (46 mins Rose), Roberts (63 mins Konsiembo), Tollitt (46 mins Baker), Lalkovic (46 mins Bennett), Chaplin (79 mins Tollitt).