Saturday, 24 October 2015

Portsmouth 0 v Mansfield Town 0 - SkyBet League 2

Saturday 24th October 2015
SkyBet League 2
at Fratton Park
Portsmouth (0) 0
Mansfield Town (0) 0
Admission £20. Programme £3.
Attendance 16,210 (inc. 369 in away end)
Murphy, Davies, Burgess, Webster, Stevens; Hollands, Doyle (c), Boco (Atangana 56), Bennett, Naismith (Chaplin 56), Lavery (Tubbs 78)
Unused subs - Bass, Clarke, Tollitt, McGurk
Mansfield Town:
Jensen; Hunt (c), Collins, Tafazolli, Adams, Rose, Clements, Chapman, Lambe (Yussuf 86), Westcarr (Blair 62), Green (N.Thomas 78)
Unused subs - Shearer, McGuire, J.Thomas, Beardsley
A 450+ mile round trip from my homestead to Fratton Park and back, for a goalless draw... and I'm elated, enthusiastic and in celebratory mood.
I'm very tired mind you, but extremely happy that I made the effort to go.
Only a football fan could relate to those sentiments, so if the logic behind it went straight over your head, then you are probably better off looking elsewhere online for something to read.
Fourth placed Mansfield travelled to second placed Pompey and proved that they have what it takes to stand up and go toe to toe against one of the main title contenders, in their own back yard.
Adam Murray's side started the season as favourites for the drop, down from League 2 and back into the abyss of the National League. But thus far, they haven't paid even the slightest heed to their detractors and they're just quietly getting on with business instead.
All torque and no talk, you might say.
Adam Murray
Paul Cook, the Portsmouth manager, is doing a great job this season.
He was magnanimous enough to give the Stags due credit today, after the final whistle, so his stock has soared in my book.
To think, the last time that I saw Cooky I pretended not to know him, because he was wearing a Chesterfield FC training top. Sorry pal, I have my reputation to think of... but I'm really pleased that you escaped from your previous dead end job, it's great to see that you are rebuilding your career at a far better club nowadays.
During the first half one of the Fratton Park stewards beckoned me over and explained in a friendly and very apologetic manner that his superiors in the control box next to the away end had instructed him to ask me to stop taking photographs.
I complied with his request, the guy was only doing his job after all and it wasn't his fault that he has such a miserable git for a boss.
I really hope nobody took any unflattering pictures of the nice man ;-)
Pompey created around half a dozen first half chances, but Brian Jensen in the Stags goal was untroubled and he only had one shot to deal with before the interval, and that was when Enda Stevens aimed the ball straight at him.
Portsmouth were very lively and probably had the lion's share of the ball prior to the interval, but they came up against a very compact, committed and hardworking Mansfield side who were employing a traditional 4-4-2 system to good effect, with the midfield playing deep to give their defence an extra line of cover.
Craig Westcarr came close to puncturing the home side's rearguard from a Matt Green cross, but in truth, clear cut chances were at a premium for both sides... and I was a bit taken aback to read on Twitter at half time that Jensen had (apparently) made a string of saves. Over the course of the season he certainly has done, while picking up cult status and a "beast!" chant along the way, but certainly not this afternoon.
HT: Pompey 0 v Stags 0
Adam Chapman and Craig Westcarr combined to lay the ball out wide to Blair Adams, a solid looking full back who is currently on loan at the Stags from neighbours Notts County, whose cross into the Pompey box was half cleared as Adam Webster headed the ball out of the area but into the path of Chapman who crashed a shot over the bar, with what was Mansfield's best chance of the game.
Portsmouth pushed forward and the home crowd responded by making a hell of a racket, but the battling Stags were putting up a resilient effort to close down Cook's side and absorb everything that was thrown at them.
The Stags don't currently have the best record for having conceded the fewest goals in this division this season for nothing.
A lengthy throw in by Chapman was headed on by Ryan Tafazolli and Brian Murphy was forced into retrieving the ball from beneath his crossbar.
As the game headed towards the last ten minutes Ben Davies fired the ball wide and then high of the target with two slightly misplaced free kicks.
Adams cleared the ball off the line for a corner from a Conor Chaplin effort and Tafazolli blocked Burgess' shot that came as a result of the flag kick.
Right at the death, Michael Doyle tried his luck from long range, but the ball flew well wide of Jensen's net.
The Stags back four had been outstanding all afternoon, with Chris Clements, Adam Chapman and their midfield counterparts battling non-stop in front of them.
I would've been happy with a point before the game... and I sure as hell was when the referee blew for full time.
FT: Portsmouth 0 v Mansfield Town 0
Tactically, Adam Murray had got it spot on today, if you give a team like Portsmouth the room to create and pull you apart, they will. They were barely given a moment to settle on the ball today and Mansfield deserved all of the applause they got from their travelling supporters at the end of the game, for a job well done.
The circuitous detour around Southsea as the 'Lost Boys' took a wrong turn on the way home and spent ages trying to find where we were on Google maps, didn't trouble anybody unduly. 
Our unfashionable little team are holding their own at the business end of the table amongst the so called big guns, so nowt' else matters tonight. 
Besides I have always really liked Fratton Park, so it was nice to get another look at the ground forty five minutes after we'd originally set off in a supposedly northerly direction from Frogmore Road.