Date: 22nd August 2015 at 5:57pm
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The Football League`s Fixture Computer has done Morecambe few favours this season so far. It chose Hartlepool away for the opening match of the campaign. Against a club they had beaten only once in four previous meetings, they lost again. The second game – at home – was against the Shrimps` all-time Bogey team, Accrington Stanley, who they had never beaten even once in sixteen previous attempts. But the jinx was broken: Morecambe won 1-0. Their third game was at home again against Wycombe Wanderers, a side they had also only ever beaten once in twelve previous attempts. They duly lost again by a single goal this time. So on Saturday, the omens weren`t good for the Lancashire side: they have lost both games previously played at Fratton Park and only beaten Portsmouth once in four attempts altogether so far. But omens and previous results mean nothing. Just before half-time, the visitors were three-nil up. Tom Barkhuizen started the scoring with a right-footed shot from within the penalty area after ten minutes to mark his first goal for the Shrimps since signing permanently in the summer. Fifteen minutes later, Alan Goodall headed home Jamie Devitt`s corner kick to put Morecambe two goals ahead. Devitt was involved again after 37 minutes when he played-in Andy Fleming to score with a low shot into the corner past Brian Murphy to put the visitors into a seemingly insurmountable lead 0-3 with just seven minutes to go to half time. Gary Roberts reduced the arrears for the home side, however, with a direct shot into the top corner from a free kick after 41 minutes. He scored again after 64 minutes following a pass from Ben Davies to put Pompey well and truly back into the match. The momentum seemed to swing back Morecambe`s way, though, after 72 minutes when Portsmouth`s Enda Stevens received a second yellow card for a foul on Aaron McGowan and was dismissed. But the home team never gave up. In the fifth minute of injury time, they retrieved a point when Jayden Stockley headed home in front of a rapturous crowd. For Pompey and their fans, this must have felt like a win. Jim Bentley was understandably disappointed – `gutted` – to use one of his favourite expressions afterwards. He said – quite rightly – that a point at rich, well-resourced and Bookies` favourites for promotion Portsmouth is no mean feat. He also said that Morecambe`s first-half display was the best he had seen so far and that injuries and fatigue were responsible for their failure to hold on to a winning position. The draw puts the Shrimps into fifteenth position in League Two. Portsmouth hang on to a Play-Off position in sixth place. They also retain their unbeaten record – but only by the skin of their teeth: a less generous referee would have blown his whistle some time before Paul Cook`s team`s equalised with what was almost literally the last touch of the game.Ref: Roger East