Alec and John Taylor's take on Fratton defeat
With Shrewsbury looking for their first ever win at Fratton Park and Pompey hoping to improve on a disappointing recent run of form, the game started brightly enough; Pompey winning a corner in the first minute.
But play was generally scrappy with many hopeful high balls from both sides, and it was only in the 11th minute that Pompey produced a clear sight of goal; an opportunity spurned by East who blazed well wide.
Shrewsbury gradually took control of the game and midway through the half, the Pompey defence was all hands to the pump to keep the ball out of their net, the pressure finally telling in the 26th minute when Grant beat Jones with a well-placed shot from five yards outside the penalty area.
The crowd of 14,719 was treated to another 15 minutes of both sides giving the ball away cheaply and five minutes before the break, East, who had taken a knock, was replaced by Fogden.
Shrewsbury sliced the Pompey defence open with alarming ease several times; but somehow the score remained 0-1 at the whistle, allowing the optimists in the home crowd to hope for better fortunes in the second half when the strong wind would be behind Pompey.
However, only one minute after the restart Shrewsbury hit the woodwork, and the pessimists had the upper hand, with no-one having answers to the inability of Portsmouth either to get any accurate crosses in from the wings or to control the ball in the visitors’ penalty area, despite all their apparent activity.
The Shrewsbury central defenders were having a very good afternoon, shepherding both Wallace and Fogden into dead-ends or wide to the touchlines and using their height advantage to good effect at Pompey corners.
There were 10 of these in the match, none of which really troubled the Shrewsbury keeper, Leutwiler, whose quiet game was indicative of the overall superiority on the day of his outfield team-mates.
Almost inevitably it seemed, on 65 minutes, having comfortably swatted away a flurry of Pompey probing, a Shrewsbury counter-attack saw the ball moved swiftly from right field to Grant on the left, who advanced towards the ‘D’ and coolly curled the ball beyond Jones into the far corner. The game was effectively over.
The Fratton End found more enthusiasm for getting outraged about Grant's provocative goal celebrations than for urging on the Pompey players, and the replacement of Hollands with Chaplin didn’t halt a growing trickle of departing fans.
While hope never dies in the breast of a Pompey fan, in the last 15 minutes it seemed that this was all the players had left too, the replacement of Taylor with McCallum bringing fresh legs, but not many fresh ideas.
While the new tactic of long throws brought some cheer, it was only to the faces of the Shrewsbury players, who thoroughly deserved their victory.