McGrandles secures late point in Pompey thriller


Conor McGrandles’ stoppage-time equaliser claimed a point against table toppers Portsmouth on Saturday afternoon as Michael Appleton’s side twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Fratton Park.

Pompey have tended to start slowly this season but they were quick out the gates on this occasion. Ashley Maynard-Brewer had to be switched on as early as 50 seconds into the game, when he palmed away Alex Robertson’s shot from the edge of the box.

Charlton survived some early pressure and grew into the game, enjoying an excellent spell just after the 15th minute. First, Miles Leaburn fired over from a tight angle on the right after good work to beat Sean Raggett. Just 30 seconds later, Alfie May cut in from the other side and flashed a shot wide of the far post.

The pick of the chances came two minutes after that, when May played a one-two with Louie Watson, received it back in the box and shot back across goal. Only a terrific save from Will Norris kept the game level.

Just after the half-hour mark the deadlock was broken and in some style. Robertson whipped in a good corner from the left which was headed clear by Michael Hector, but only as far as Abu Kamara. On his weaker right foot, the on-loan Norwich forward arrowed a first-time volley into Maynard-Brewer’s left corner, and the home side were ahead.

Chances came at either end in the remainder of the first period, but neither side could convert. Raggett’s header was saved by Maynard-Brewer low down at his right post at one end and then Louie Watson shot just wide from 18 yards out.

As Alan Curbishley remarked at half time on CharltonTV, it had been a very even game with the difference being one moment of quality from Kamara.

But at the beginning of the second half Portsmouth were able to assert their dominance at a sold-out Fratton Park, and the Addicks required some goalkeeping heroics to keep them in the game.

In the 57th minute, after Colby Bishop won a corner, Robertson took it short to goalscorer Kamara, who touched it back to the Australian. Robertson curled in a cross and Bishop headed towards goal inside the six-yard box, but was somehow denied by a wonderful reaction save from Maynard-Brewer above his head.

Seven minutes later Pompey would twice go even closer, again from a Robertson corner. In almost a carbon copy of the first goal, Hector’s clearance fell to Kamara, who this time took it down and hit it with his left. Maynard-Brewer touched it onto the bar and it fell to Bishop who, with the goal gaping, hit the woodwork again.

But as the half progressed, the sense that Portsmouth may have missed their opportunity began to grow, and with just under 20 minutes remaining the Addicks found the equaliser.

Another one-two between Louie Watson and May left the latter inside the box on the right. The angle seemed against him but October's Sky Bet League One Player of the Month drilled in a low shot that beat Norris for pace, before wheeling away to celebrate in front of the travelling supporters.

The home side responded well, and just three minutes later Maynard-Brewer found himself at the centre of the action yet again. Moments after denying substitute Gavin Whyte with another wonderful save, the Australian conceded a penalty.

Paddy Lane played a one-two with Christian Saydee and advanced into the box. Maynard-Brewer raced off his line but was second to the ball and fouled the Portsmouth winger. Referee Sam Allison pointed to the spot, and Bishop dispatched decisively from it.

It looked like it was not going to be Charlton’s day, right up until the third minute of stoppage time when, seemingly out of nothing, the visitors snatched a point through two players making their first league appearances since returning from injury.

The lively Tayo Edun, who had been popping up in midfield all game, dinked a wonderful floated ball to the back post where Zak Swanson missed it and substitute McGrandles did not. The Scot directed his header towards the near post, where it sneaked in past Norris for the midfielder’s first Charlton goal.

There was still time for the visitors to have three chances to win it through Corey Blackett-Taylor, Edun and Dobson. They could not claim all three points but remarkably remain unbeaten at Fratton Park since 2005. Once Michael Appleton’s side catch their breath they will now look ahead to the Emirates FA Cup first round replay at Cray Valley PM on Wednesday night.

Charlton: Maynard-Brewer; T.Watson (Asiimwe 83), Hector, Jones, Edun; Dobson (c), L.Watson (McGrandles 83); T.Campbell (Fraser 66), May, Blackett-Taylor; Leaburn

Sub (not used): Walker, Ness, Thomas, Tedić

Goals: May 71, McGrandles 90+3

Assists: Watson 71, Edun 90+3

Booked: Edun 45+3 (foul on Lane), Leaburn 69 (foul on Raggett), Hector 90+5 (foul on Swanson), Jones 90+8 (foul on Saydee)

Portsmouth: Norris; Rafferty, Raggett, Shaughnessy, Sparkes; Morrell (c), Robertson, Devlin (Saydee 70); Lane (Swanson 87), Kamara (Whyte 70), Bishop

Subs (not used): Schofield, Towler, Stevenson, Yengi

Goals: Kamara 31, Bishop 75

Assist: Lane 75

Attendance: 19,404 (2,147 from Charlton)

Referee: Sam Allison

Read Time: 5 mins