Mansfield Town 2 Portsmouth 2, 24th August 2013

Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox  -Pic by:Richard Parkes
Mansfield Town manager Paul Cox -Pic by:Richard Parkes

A Lindon Meikle equaliser secured Mansfield Town a point following an entertaining 2-2 draw against Portsmouth today.

The flying winger levelled the game after 71 minutes following an impressive second half display from the home side.

Portsmouth had led 2-1 at the break after goals from Andy Barcham on 39 minutes and David Connolly on 43 minutes had cancelled out Ben Hutchinson’s magnificent volley on 17 minutes.

It was nothing more than the fallen Premier League giants deserved after Barcham and Jed Wallace had ripped Mansfield apart down the flanks.

But Mansfield came out fighting after half time and equalised through Meikle with just under 20 minutes to go.

The goal further underlined Mansfield’s strength in depth with substitutes Matt Rhead and Ollie Palmer also playing a key part in the goal.

And Mansfield came close to securing their first home win back in the Football League with Meikle, Martin Riley and Chris Clements all threatening the Portsmouth goal as Stags pushed for the winner in the closing stages.

It was yet another highly encouraging display from Mansfield, who once again proved they can more than compete in League Two as they extended their unbeaten run to three matches.

Paul Cox showed faith in the same side that claimed a first league win of the season at Wycombe last Saturday by naming an unchanged line-up. But assistant manager Adam Murray replaced Anthony Howell on the bench.

Portsmouth started lively and Martin Riley had to be at his best to prevent Andy Barcham getting a shot on goal after he burst past Ritchie Sutton and into the box on six minutes.

Calvin Andrew registered Mansfield’s first attempt on goal after eight minutes after good link-up play with Ben Hutchinson created an opening.

But Porstmouth continued to pass the ball crisply through midfield as Mansfield struggled to get into the game and won back-to-back corners on 15 minutes.

James Jennings should have put Mansfield ahead on 17 minutes after the ball fell loose to him inside the box.

But he failed to get enough power on his effort and fired a soft strike straight at Smith in the Pompey goal.

Sutton was at his best to deny David Connolly with a last-ditch block on 24 minutes after Jed Wallace ghosted past three Mansfield defenders before picking out the former Republic of Ireland star 15 yards out.

Seconds later the dangerous Connolly hit the outside of the post after the Stags defence failed to clear the danger.

It was Mansfield that finally hit the front on 32 minutes when Ben Hutchinson smashed home a volley from 25 yards to send the home fans wild.

Portsmouth were not behind for long after some more flowing football once again carved open the home defence on 39 minutes.

Winger Jed Wallace proved too much to handle for James Jennings as he burst down the right flank before cutting the ball back to the unmarked Andy Barcham from the byline.

Barcham then made no mistake as he drilled the ball past Marriott into the roof of the net from the penalty spot to level.

Pompey then hit the front on 43 minutes after Andy Barcham powered past Beevers down the left flank on the counter attack before his shot was parried by the legs of Marriott.

Connolly then turned the loose ball home from eight yards to complete the turnaround by the impressive visitors and bag his fourth goal of the season.

It was probably no more than Portsmouth deserved after they had enjoyed the lion share of the first half and the best of the chances, with Barcham and Wallace terrorising Mansfield out wide.

The Mansfield fans were screaming for a penalty two minutes into the start of the second half after Ben Hutchinson went down under a heavy challenge from goalkeeper Phil Smith. But referee Stephen Martin waved the appeals away.

Jamie McGuire was close to levelling for Mansfield on 56 minutes as he fired a low volley through a crowd of player. But Smith was up to the challenge as he saved McGuire’s effort before pouncing on the loose ball.

Connolly fired over on 62 minutes after Wallace floated a ball into the box after a good pass by Patrick Agyemang as Pompey pressed for a decisive goal.

Mansfield levelled on 71 minutes after Smith fumbled a hook back from Ollie Palmer allowing substitute Lindon Meikle to fire home from close range after Matt Rhead but the ball in the danger zone.

Chris Clements fired an ambitious shot well over the bar with 10 minutes to go before Lindon Meikle scuffed an effort after a good run into the box a moment later.

Mansfield continued to look dangerous with the equaliser appearing to have knocked the stuffing out of Portsmouth.

Riley blew a good chance for Mansfield on 85 minutes after he failed to connect with a Clements corner, before Dempster headed over the bar seconds later.

Mansfield Town (3-5-2) : Marriott, Jennings, Sutton, Dempster, Riley, Beevers (Meikle 67 mins), Clucas (Palmer 53 mins), McGuire, Clements, Andrew (Rhead 64mins), Hutchinson. Subs not used: Mitchell, Stevenson, Tafazolli, Murray.

Portsmouth (4-4-2): Smith, Painter (Moutaouakil 73mins), Ngala, Bradley, Devera, Barcham, Padovani (Ertl 67 mins), Ferry, Wallace, Agyemang (Bird 80 mins), Connolly. Subs not used: Sullivan, East, Holmes, Butler.

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire).

Attendance: 4,577 (1,005 away).