Sunday, 24 July 2016

The Cherries have to settle for a draw at Fratton Park

Match Report
Portsmouth 3 v 3 AFCB 
22 July 2016
Attendance 5153 (531 AFCB fans)
Portsmouth and AFCB take on each other and the heat.
When this fixture was planned, nobody would have expected it to be a sweltering 82°F at Fratton Park and the heat soon gave a warm welcome to new look AFCB and Pompey teams that so often delighted, and then occasionally frustrated, both sets of fans in a competitive match. The Cherries fell behind early to a Gary Roberts strike and when Lewis Grabban slotted in an equaliser on 25 minutes, Pompey retook the lead straight after from a Michael Smith tap in, after Adam Federici had spilt a shot. Even at 2-1 down at half time, AFCB had plenty of quality off the bench to come, and the equaliser came from a keen to impress Jordan Ibe, who fired in at the near post, with some 22 minutes to go. The Cherries must have thought they had won it when Dan Gosling tucked away a third, in the 81st minute, but a late goal by Adam May meant that both sides would settle for a draw.
Pompey supporters gather around the ground.
The starting team line up for AFCB was fascinating with Eunan O'Kane assuming a new role at right back which suited him well, and Charlie Daniels partnered Simon Francis in central defence. Rhoys Wiggins then had the chance to play at left back. Wilson and Grabban were given first opportunity to play up front, and new signing Lewis Cook partnered Harry Arter were in central midfield with Pugh and Fraser on the wings. 
Portsmouth before the match do their warm up.
Eddie and Jason in the dugout.
A warm welcome for AFCB's new captain.

Ryan Fraser was sprightly in attack and had the first shot that was well held by Alex Bass, Pompey's keeper. AFCB had looked controlled enough but with the ball quickly lost in midfield, Gary Roberts latched onto a through ball. Francis scrambled across the 18 yard box to try and cover, but he failed to stop Roberts who rode the challenge and curled a low placed shot past Federici and into the bottom left corner of the net to give Pompey the lead on three minutes - 1-0

AFCB kept playing their football from the back and their slow start might have been expected having only travelled back from the US mid-week. Lewis Cook and Harry Arter were battling to get some control back and Wiggins and Pugh began a few sorties up the left wing in response to going behind. 

Portsmouth were enjoying this though, winning a corner and putting pressure back on AFCB. There was not enough composure about Bournemouth' play and the odd misdirected pass from Lewis Cook. Yet, Eunan O'Kane was playing extremely well in marshalling new signing Milan Lalkovic. The best early move followed for AFCB when Lewis Cook drove down the right and found Lews Grabban in space only for the ex-Norwich marksman to shoot narrowly wide!

16 minutes had gone and AFCB were warming up to the task. Arter was still hitting the odd pass too strongly, but Lewis Cook was starting to make first touch forward passes his theme and it was putting AFCB on the front foot.

However, Roberts was still a threat. The ex-Huddersfield man linked up with Carl Baker who shot just wide of the left upright! Pugh was having more touches now but when he did find Grabban the touch let Lewis down again. Luckily Ryan Fraser gathered up the remnants and beat his man to reach the byline, and he pulled back a low cross that Grabban slotted home from six yards to make it 1-1 on 25 minutes.

The Cherries' fans celebrations lasted all of a minute. A long driven shot from Enda Stevens was not held by Federici. It fell at the feet of Mathew Smith who gladly accepted the invitation to stab home Pompey's second - 2-1. Federici slung his bottle down in the net with measured anger!

It took 28 minutes for the Cherries to win their first corner and from then on just about every one was taken short. Mark Pugh almost grabbed a spectacular goal with an overhead kick but it was somehow kept out by a Pompey body on the line! Callum Wilson was finally getting involved and was pushed to the ground in the box, but he got nothing for his appeals. Ryan Fraser's claims were similarly dismissed moments later when he needed some medical attention for the clip he took.

Simon Francis took no prisoners though in ploughing through Danny Rose who was superbly slide-tackled, but half time had arrived an AFCB were still 1-2 down.
Half time and the subs warm up.
Second Half
We expected changes and sure enough Eddie made five in bringing on Ibe, MacDonald, Gosling, Mousett and King. Ibe would play on the right, King on the left and Mousset through the middle, as AFCB lined up in more of a 4-5-1 formation now with Arter the only midfielder from the first half remaining on the pitch.

There was a wild shot from Danny Rose early on but nothing to scare Federici until Mathew Smith needed a good block from Daniels to prevent him from extending Pompey's lead. 

I mainly concentrated my gaze on new signings Lys Mousetts and Jordan Ibe. Mousset's movement was excellent in making space for Gosling to slip him passes. Ibe's touch was also very good and Pompey's defence was quickly taking note of his skill and trickery. 

After the hour Pompey started making a procession of subs following one they had made at half time. Off came Smith and Curtis Main joined the game. Danny Rose was also replaced by Noel Hunt.

There was a slower pace to the second half but O'Kane was still racing up the right wing and pulled back a god cross for King. Once Mousset found some space, on the edge of the box, he then drove in a shot with little back lift that Alex Bass did well to keep out. 

At the 70 minute mark more Pompey made another change - Doyle made way for Dan Close. It may have made them lose some concentration as Jordan Ibe put their left back on toast before rifling in a shot to beat Bass on his left side, low down - 2-2

Ibe took a bow in front of the AFCB fans, he  loved that! And it was kind of a signal - there's more of that to come this season. Eddie and Jason immediately stood up and roused AFCB to go and get a winner.

The 'Olés' started to ring out for more than a minute as AFCB played keep ball only for Adam Federici to almost gift a goal to Portsmouth. He lost control and hit his clearance at Noel Hunt. Luckily Federici recovered quickly to make it difficult for Hunt who settled for a corner. Francis then had everyone laughing even more when he did a handstand in trying to tackle Noel Hunt just over half way - he just about kept his balance!

Pompey now piled on the subs - Barton, Doyle and Haunstrup entered the game. They may be timed it wrong again, as Mouset set about their defence and a Wiggins' cross was pounced on by Dan Gosling who made it 2-3!

Pompey's response? More subs - Davies, Oxlaide-Chamberlain, May, Tollit and Davies! I'd lost count by this stage. Josh King was still running through the middle of Portsmouth's defence. Ibe switched to the left and Mousset was tried on the right wing.

AFCB made one last sub bring on Matt Butcher for Rhoys Wiggins who was applauded off. He'd worked hard on the day. But all AFCB's work seemed a bit cut down on 88 minutes when a Tollit shot deflected in by Adam May made it 3-3. What a finish!
A good workout for AFCB.
A truly enjoyable day was had a Fratton Park. It was great to see some new names and to see the team play with an attitude of fervent attack. What will Eddie take away from this game? Eunan O'Kane can play at this level at right back - can he do it in the Premier League? Francis is the best tackler, but has lots to learn about being a centre-back and averting trouble. Adam Federici has an error or two in him which means it is hard for him to be a number one, although Boruc has the same problem. 

The big plus points - Lewis Cook excelled and his first touches were very creative. Lewis Grabban has started scoring goals and he has his smile back. The introduction of Lys Mousett and Jordan Ibe in particular showed that AFCB will have several options when they need to get a goal in games when coming from behind. All-in-all a promising start to pre-season, but shots on goal and making the keeper work would still be the buzz words in training.
Arter enjoys taking his boots off as Ibe spots someone in the crowd.
AFCB starting XI
Federici 5, O'Kane 7, Francis 7, Daniels 6, Wiggins 7, Fraser 6, Arter 6, L Cook 7, Pugh 6, Grabban 6, Wilson 6

Gosling 6, MacDonald 6, Ibe 8, Mousett 7, King 7, Butcher 6.

Transfer Gossip
Brad Smith of Liverpool is another defender believed to be targeted by AFCB, says The Sun. This almost reads like a done deal for £6m but Brad is still in the USA on tour. 

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