Date: 22nd November 2014 at 5:03pm
Written by:

There was a clash of footballing cultures at Fratton Park on Saturday. Portsmouth, with an average home crowd of about fifteen thousand, are aristocrats suddenly faced with hard times: League Two is the lowest a team which has both won the FA Cup and been in the Premiership during the last six years has ever sunk. During the week – perhaps to emphasise how low the mighty have fallen – they followed Morecambe`s example and lost in the FA Cup First Round to a Conference team: in this case, Aldershot. For Morecambe however, (who were beaten by Dover a couple of weeks ago), League Two is still a rarefied atmosphere for a club whose greatest other achievement has been to win the FA Trophy over forty years ago and whose average home crowd is about a tenth of that of their illustrious hosts. They lost 3-0 in the equivalent fixture last year. Could they do any better this time?
No they couldn`t. The visitors – with outstanding forward Jamie Devitt still unavailable due to injury and loanee striker Tom Barkhuizen having returned to parent club Blackpool this week – were always likely to struggle in these circumstances. And so it proved – they lost by the same score as last year but were very lucky not to have been absolutely walloped during this match.
Craig Westcarr, fed by a long throw which the Shrimps` defence failed to deal with properly, managed to beat Scott Davis at the second attempt with a close-range shot after ten minutes. This was the score at half time but Pompey hadn`t had things all their own way for the rest of the period. This all changed in the second half when it was one-way traffic virtually the entire time. Pompey threatened to register a really convincing win when Jed Wallace increased Pompey`s lead with a header which gave Davis no chance after just eight minutes of the second half. Without an inspired performance from their loanee goalkeeper from Fleetwood, Jim Bentley`s side would have been severely embarrassed after this. He made a succession of excellent saves from Ryan Taylor in particular who, on another day, might have had at least a hat trick. In fact, he didn`t score at all but Wallace increased his tally to a brace when he found the Shrimps` defence Absent Without Leave after 88 minutes when a long ball from the back found its way to him and even the inspired Morecambe keeper couldn`t keep him out this time.
At the end of the match, Portsmouth had leap-frogged their visitors and ended up on the same number of points a place higher. Morecambe are eleventh. On this showing, they are going to really struggle to match the progress that teams like Pompey can expect towards the end of the season: Andy Awford’s team were very worthy winners after ninety minutes.