|,Crewe Alexandra,0 – 0,Portsmouth,|
Stalemate at Crewe
Pompey collected their second successive league draw with a goalless stalemate at Crewe.
Both sides had chances to turn one point into three on a nippy August afternoon at Alexandra Stadium.
Chris Dagnall missed the best of the chances for the hosts, while Curtis Main had several openings after coming off the bench.
Paul Cook made one enforced change from the side that drew with Carlisle in the last league outing.
That came at left-back where Kal Naismith deputised for Enda Stevens, who missed out with a groin problem.
The game was only a few seconds old when Carl Baker attempted a long-range effort that flew narrowly over.
Naismith then whipped in a dangerous cross that was just out of reach for Michael Smith running in at the far post.
The stand-in defender was looking an attacking threat and when his run was illegally halted, Baker curled in a free-kick that was comfortably dealt with by Alex keeper Ben Garratt.
Pompey had started brightly and a Naismith delivery had to be turned over his own bar by Jon Guthrie, while Milan Lalkovic saw a shot blocked after exchanging intelligent passes with Baker.
It was the visitors dominating possession, but some unsure moments at the back allowed Crewe chances to score before the break.
Dagnall was first to go close, only to see his header deflected wide after being picked out from a corner.
Then, after Lalkovic wasted a decent opportunity by firing a free-kick straight into the wall, Drew Talbot was caught out of position, but recovered well to deny Charlie Kirk.
Dagnall proved wasteful again on 26 minutes, opting to head the ball back to no-one rather than test David Forde when he was found unmarked in the box.
There were still openings at the other end and a cross-shot from Lalkovic looped over Garratt and narrowly cleared the crossbar.
But Crewe were gifted another chance late in the half when Christian Burgess collected a throw and hit the ball straight at Ryan Lowe.
The striker spotted Forde off his line and had an audacious effort from long-range, but the ball flashed wide.
Half Time: Crewe 0 Pompey 0
The second half began in a very open fashion, with both sides keen to get forward whenever they could.
Neither goalkeeper was being overworked, although Burgess did well to mop up the danger after Dagnall had been picked out by a fine Billy Bingham pass.
And Cook clearly wanted to see more from his attacking players as he made a double switch on 54 minutes, with Smith and Lalkovic making way for Main and Kyle Bennett.
The duo immediately looked lively, with the former doing good work to win a corner and the latter looking to test Crewe right-back Oliver Turton.
But it was Michael Doyle who came close to breaking the deadlock just past the hour mark. The skipper’s shot was deflected wide after Bingham had lost the ball to Gary Roberts.
Bennett then did well to cut inside from the left and put the ball into the box, but it would not sit up kindly for Roberts and the hosts were able to clear.
Alex substitute Alex Kiwomya was looking a real threat and, after breaking clear down the right, his cut-back somehow evaded everyone on its journey across the box.
Cook was then forced to make his third and final change when Jack Whatmough went down injured on 74 minutes.
It looked worrying when he lay on the ground clutching his leg, but the defender was able to hobble off and be replaced by Adam Barton.
The Blues soon had a chance to take the lead, but Main could not guide his header on target after a header had been flicked into his path.
It was Main who was involved again moments later when he could not quite make a clean connection with Talbot’s low cross.
And the striker should have done better on 81 minutes, but he failed to turn home Naismith’s low delivery at the near post.
Main did have the ball in the back of net soon after, but referee Dean Whitestone had already blown for a foul before his crisp finish.
Crewe were after a late winner themselves, though, and Talbot threw himself into the path of a Bingham drive.
The same player then drew a smart stop from Forde in the closing stages, while Main’s header failed to beat Garratt at the other end.
It was a frantic end to proceedings, but neither side was able to find a winner and the spoils were shared.
Crewe (4-4-2): Garratt; Turton, Davies, Guthrie, Bakayogo; Cooper (Kiwomya 59), Jones, Bingham, Kirk (Ainley 66); Lowe (c), Dagnall
Subs not used: Richards, Ray, Nugent, Saunders, Udoh
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde; Talbot, Whatmough (Barton 74), Burgess, Naismith; Rose, Doyle (c); Baker, Roberts, Lalkovic (Bennett 54); Smith (Main 54)
Subs not used: O’Brien, Buxton, Chaplin, Hunt
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Attendance: 4,742 (1,257 Pompey fans)