Ten Man Pompey Suckerpunched By Spireites
Portsmouth 0 Chesterfield 2
Pompey suffered a cruel late defeat at the hands of Chesterfield after playing over 50 minutes of the match with ten men thanks to David Connolly's stupidity.
It was very scrappy game in truth with not too many chances for either side. One thing is for certain and that is that Pompey fans will not want to see referee Steve Brattin charge of any more Portsmouth games in the near future, having denied the home side at least one clear penalty.
Joe Devera might have scored early on but he guided his header wide from a corner whilst Spireites striker Marc Richards had a goal disallowed for offside.
Connolly then had two penalty appeals waved away by Bratt as he was tripped by Liam Cooper. One of them would have been a free kick anyway as the foul was committed just outside the box but the other was a clear penalty. So much so that opposing manager Paul Cook thought the ref would blow his whistle and Chesterfield player Ritchie Humphreys said the same to a group of Pompey fans in the Victory Bar after the game.
The Irishman's response to those decisions was to get himself stupidly sent off. Many in the crowd may have thought the decision was harsh but those who saw the incident say that Connolly can have no complaints and the fact that he apologised to his team-mates after the game is telling.
As the second half began Pompey fans began to pressure the referee and it was getting to him. There was a point early on when he waved play on as Agyemang was clean through, only to blow his whistle and give a free kick.
There may well have been another penalty shout when Andy Barcham went down in the box but it would have been soft. Another Portsmouth player was clearly fouled seconds later near the edge of the box but Bratt missed that too and gave a throw in instead.
It might have been expected for Chesterfield to make their man advantage count but some strong defending never saw that materialise. In fact, the best chance of the game came when Sonny Bradley went on a mazy run down the pitch and into the box, his shot was saved by Tommy Lee and neither Barcham or Ryan Bird could slot the rebound home.
Then, with just three minutes of the match remaining, Chesterfield made their only significant attack of the game count as Eoin Doyle's cross was headed in by an unmarked Arnand Gnanduilet to steal the win.
Bird had a chance to score late on but his shot missed the target and the Spireites made certain of victory with Tendayi Darikwa's deflected drive past John Sullivan in stoppage time to complete an extremely frustrating day for Pompey fans, players and management alike.
Looking at other fans' opinions of this game and it seems like Guy Whittingham is coming in for a lot of criticism on team selection.
However, Sullivan made no massive mistakes in place of Smith even if his kicking was poor. Danny East may have been static but he was solid and probably a better option than an error-prone Dan Butler up against one of the best wingers in the division.
Moutaouakil was always going to return to the team at right back in place of N'Gala and Ricky Holmes deserved a chance in the side after Jed Wallace's poor form so far this season.
The only questionable decision was to replace Romain Padovani with Johnny Ertl. The logic in replacing one of the best passers in our team with someone who has looked off the pace so far this season is baffling and there'll be plenty of sympathy for the former who didn't deserve to be dropped.
But to blame the manager for yesterday's defeat is silly. The reasons why Pompey lost is because our star striker got himself stupidly sent off, the referee failed to award at least one spot kick and a lapse of concentration at the back late on when the team had given their all.
Connolly is now banned for three games, thankfully one of them is in the meaningless Paint Trophy but either Tom Craddock or Ryan Bird are going to have to step up for two tough games at Cheltenham and Burton.
But the team can take heart from that performance yesterday as the result flattered Chesterfield and Pompey ultimately deserved more for their effort.
Pompey Player Ratings
John Sullivan: 6 - Saved a couple of decent shots but kicking must improve.
Yassin Moutaouakil: 6 - Dealt with Chesterfield's wingers easily enough.
Joe Devera: 6 - Worked hard but his headed clearances desperately need improving.
Sonny Bradley: 8 - Becoming the outstanding player at the back.
Danny East: 5 - Did OK despite being played out of position, but it showed.
Ricky Holmes: 6 - Worked hard even if he didn't get much joy.
Johnny Ertl: 5 - Sluggish start but improved late on.
Simon Ferry: 6 - Did the basics well.
Andy Barcham: 6 - Crowded out often as Chesterfield recognised the danger he posed.
Patrick Agyemang: 7 - Tireless given he played half of the game up front by himself.
David Connolly: 3 - Was excellent until his ridiculous and costly red card.
Jed Wallace (Holmes 74): N/A - Looked a threat when he came on.
Tom Craddock (East 88): N/A - Given no time.
Ryan Bird (Agyemang 64): 5 - Didn't influence the game.
Source: Fratton Faithful
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