John Brooks' take on Saturday's stalemate
With Pompey recently announcing debt-free status, there was an air of optimism among the Pompey faithful as Mansfield, the league’s no-draw specialists, kicked-off towards the Fratton End on a sunny autumn afternoon.
Mansfield carried with them a reputation as physical side and were quick to the tackle and soon imposing themselves. From a resultant early Shorey free-kick, Pompey had a handball appeal turned down and continued to press, forcing a first corner after eight minutes.
But it was Mansfield who created the half's first chances with the ever dangerous Bingham picking up on mistake by Robinson and forcing the first save of note from Jones.
Soon after Mansfield's Bell chipped over from a good position and although Pompey took the lion's share of the early possession, it was a keystone cops moment with Wallace and Drennan bumping heads while steadfastly avoiding the ball that provided the greatest offering of entertainment.
All too often Pompey’s final ball was awry with Wynter in particular failing to pick out the runners in the attacking third.
It was Taylor who finally managed a weak first shot on target in 25th minute to ironic cheers from the Pompey fans.
When Pompey did find openings the Mansfield defence was well marshalled with the robust McGuire doing great work to block a brief opening for Hollands – all this contributing to making it a relaxing afternoon out in the sun for the 400 or so travelling Mansfield fans.
Mansfield forced their first corner on 35 minutes extracting a ripple of applause from the slumbering Miltonites.
On 40 minutes Mansfield's lumbering Rhead seemed to unnecessarily check Ertl into the hoardings in front of the Fratton End. Ertl was able to continue after treatment, but the act cast the bustling centre forward as the pantomime villain of the afternoon, albeit a welcome side show to bring the curtain down on a hugely forgettable first 45 minutes.
Half Time: Pompey 0 Mansfield 0
The second half started with a wake-up call that the match needed after just a minute when Heslop volleyed home from the edge of the penalty area in front of the travelling away fans.
Pompey 0 Mansfield 1
This seemed to galvanise Pompey into action and some good work between Wallace and Taylor was wasted by a poor final ball, this time Dunne was the culprit. Dunne’s frustration was clear when booked for a clumsy challenge minutes later.
With Rhead’s work done for the day he exited stage left to be replaced by Palmer and this change reaped two chances in quick succession for Bingham both from similar positions. The first Jones saved well to his right and the second the striker fired narrowly wide of the left hand post.
Having narrowly escaped going two down Pompey stepped up a gear with good combination work between Taylor and Wallace posing the greatest threat to Mansfield’s stubborn defence.
On 68 minutes Pompey made the double substitution bringing on Agyemang and Atangana in place of Ertl and Drennan, who had a quiet afternoon.
This proved an inspired, if late, change from Awford with an immediate impact as Atangana set up Robinson from a Pompey corner to score from close range and bring the scores level at 1-1.
Pompey 1 Mansfield 1
The tide of the game now turned in favour of Pompey, who pushed forward in search of the winner. The 'A-Team' substitution was paying dividends with some great link up work on the right hand side between Atangana and Agyemang, which began to open up the resolute Mansfield defence.
Both Shorey and Hollands went close late on, the latter bringing out a fine save from the Swiss keeper Studer in the closing minutes.
Ultimately it was too little, too late from the home side and the pattern of the game will have left the majority of the 15,585 fans wondering if the injection of the ‘A-Team’ at an earlier time would have changed the outcome.
Mansfield for their part will be happy with their first draw of the season and their fans will be the happier travelling home with a point in the bag and a tan from their south coast travels for good measure.
Final score: Pompey 1 Mansfield 1
MOM: Rakish Bingham – showed poise on the ball, needs to work on finishing.
Tifosy reporter: John Brooks (Proud Shareholder 3334)