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Match Reports

Accrington 2 Pompey 2

Curtis and Harness on target at the Crown Ground

23 October 2021

Ronan Curtis scores for Pompey at Accrington Stanley
Photo: Daniel Chesterton

A late Marcus Harness goal rescued a point for Pompey after it looked like they would leave Accrington on the back of an undeserved defeat.

The Blues created a host of chances, but only had Ronan Curtis’ early finish to show for their efforts at the interval.

Harry Pell levelled for Stanley following the restart and after surviving plenty of dangerous moments, then took the lead through Matt Butcher.

It looked like being a harsh loss, but the noisy travelling faithful were rewarded for their backing when Harness struck late on.

Danny Cowley made two changes from the side that were beaten on home soil by Ipswich earlier in the week.

Reeco Hackett and Connor Ogilvie both returned to the starting line-up, with Ryan Tunnicliffe and Kieron Freeman dropping to the bench.

That saw a return to a back four, with Shaun Williams returning to his preferred position in the centre of midfield.

Cowley had asked for a positive reaction following successive heavy defeats and his troops responded by making a fast start.

An early corner was worked to Harness on the edge of the box and his shot had to be tipped over by Toby Savin.

And the keeper did even better to deal with a thunderous Williams attempt that followed good work from the lively Hackett.

But it was proving to be a mixed display from Savin, who quickly grabbed the loose ball from John Marquis after spilling a Lee Brown delivery.

He was then back to his best on 15 minutes, saving at the feet of Marquis after Hackett and Harness had combined brilliantly down the right.

And the Blues got the lead their pressure deserved on 15 minutes, when Brown laid the ball off for CURTIS.

The Republic of Ireland international took a few touches before hitting a low effort that bounced awkwardly in front of Savin and crept into the bottom corner.

Pompey kept attacking and Hackett was asking plenty of questions, while Williams and Joe Morrell were looking assured in the centre of the pitch.

But Stanley had a chance to level when Ethan Hamilton crossed from the right and Colby Bishop could only turn it wide.

Savin then fumbled another centre – this time from Hackett – but the home side were able to clear the danger.

And when Accrington enjoyed a spell of pressure and won a corner, it almost led to another Pompey goal.

Morrell stole possession and launched a quick counter, with Harness showing some tricky footwork before hitting a shot that rose narrowly over the bar.

There was even a cheeky free-kick attempt by Williams from near the halfway line, although the midfielder could not find the target.

Half Time: Accrington 0 Pompey 1

The visitors picked up where they left off following the restart and Stanley were relieved to see the ball land safe when Savin parried an angled Hackett drive.

But the home side were level on 50 minutes after Gavin Bazunu had dived to his left to keep out Sean McConville’s strike.

The Accrington midfielder took the resulting corner and the ball was nodded on by Ross Sykes for Pell to head home from close range.

It might have got worse for the Blues, as a Hamilton effort took a big deflection off Brown and had to be dealt with Bazunu.

And Sean Raggett then suddenly appeared from nowhere to make a superb block to repel Bishop’s shot.

Pompey then went close to scoring themselves, as Savin raced from his area to deal with Bazunu’s long ball, only to swipe at thin air.

Curtis dispossessed the keeper and saw off Yeboah Amankwah’s challenge before hitting a shot from outside the box.

It appeared to be heading for the net, but Butcher got back and managed to clear the ball against the post and out to safety.

Pompey were certainly doing their best to retake the lead and Marquis rolled a shot past the post before Savin denied Harness.

Harness went close again on 69 minutes, but Sykes flung himself in the path of the ball to divert it behind.

And yet it was Stanley who went ahead for first time from a long Savin punt, with McConville playing in Butcher for a neat lobbed finish over Bazunu.

Louis Thompson immediately replaced Williams and there was a quick chance for the Blues to draw level.

Morrell’s pass found Marquis in the box, but the striker was unable to slide his shot past Savin, who saved with his foot.

A double substitution followed as Cowley made his final throw of the dice, with Morrell and Hackett making way for Tunnicliffe and Michael Jacobs.

The latter was soon involved in Pompey’s leveller on 86 minutes after combining with Marquis on the left.

Pompey’s hard-working striker sent the ball across the face of goal, where HARNESS was in space to fire home from close range.

There was still time for more late drama, but neither side were able to score again and had to settle for a point each.

Accrington (3-5-1-1): Savin; Amankwah, Nottingham, Sherring (Sykes 19); Butcher, Hamilton, Conneely (c), Morgan, McConville; Pell; Bishop
Goals: Pell 50, Butcher 77
Booked: Sykes, Hamilton
Subs not used: Trafford, O’Sullivan, Leigh, Nolan, Mansell, Malcolm

Pompey (4-2-3-1): Bazunu; Romeo, Raggett, Ogilvie, Brown (c); Morrell (Tunnicliffe 84), Williams (Thompson 78); Hackett (Jacobs 84), Harness, Curtis; Marquis
Goals: Curtis 18, Harness 86
Booked: Raggett, Curtis
Subs not used: Bass, Freeman, Azeez, Hirst

Referee: Geoff Eltringham

Attendance: 2,889 (892 Pompey fans)


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