Pompey 0 Accrington 0

Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler
Christian Burgess. Picture: Joe Pepler

Christian Burgess departed the Fratton Park pitch sporting swabs inserted in either nostril.

At least somebody received a bloody nose during the previous 90 minutes.

As it was, collectively the teams on display emerged unscathed having both failed to deliver any meaningful blows during a lacklustre bout.

Pompey and Accrington Stanley had windmilled through their Fratton Park encounter on Saturday, producing a punchless outcome.

In terms of justice, there can be no complaints over the subsequent goalless draw. Neither side deserved anything more.

Yet for the Blues the feeling was one of disappointment following a second successive home draw against teams who will not emerge as promotion rivals.

No slight intended on Stanley, who fully warranted their point having arrived on the south coast prepared to compete and willing to play creative football when possible.

Certainly, as the away side, they will be unconcerned over the manner of a draw starved of any entertainment value whatsoever.

In contrast, despite having rested almost his entire 23-man squad in the week for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Exeter, it was powder puff from Paul Cook’s side.

The only successful strike came in the form of a boot in the face of the unfortunate Burgess, and even then it can be deemed accidental.

The central defender carried on after a few temporary facial repairs, doing his best to dictate the match by delivering out from the back.

Otherwise it was a toothless attacking display from both clubs during an instantly forgettable fixture for the 15,745 crowd present.

Unmistakably there were a number of boos at the final whistle, although it was difficult to differentiate whether they were aimed towards the scoreline or referee Brendan Malone.

Malone won few admirers during the proceedings with a curious display capped by booking Ben Davies after having his legs held down by a desperate Sean McConville.

Regardless, the Blues served up a dud which prompted the first questions over their capacity to break sides down during the anticipated promotion push.

Overall the League Two table depicts a team currently residing in fifth and unbeaten after six matches, an encouraging platform in anybody’s eyes.

Elsewhere, leaders Leyton Orient endured a shock 4-0 defeat at Exeter having previously won all five of their matches, earning Ian Hendon the manager of the month accolade.

Yet the current nagging concern is both Morecambe and Accrington have now visited Fratton Park, bared their teeth rather than parking the bus and departed with a deserved point.

Against the Shrimps, the hosts superbly fought back from a three-goal deficit. Against Stanley they created only two meaningful attempts – yet they represent dropped points by a side with realistic promotion aspirations.

To think that in between Pompey clinched an eye-catching victory a Luton, opposition surely destined to challenge this term.

Still, Saturday was an off-day, too many players with attacking capabilities not on their game, a lack of creativity rather than absence of endeavour.

They huffed and puffed to no avail, never suggesting a breakthrough could be conjured up as Stanley stood firm at the back without too much trouble.

Not even the introduction of Matt Tubbs and Conor Chaplin from the bench could spark the hosts into life, although they did raise the level slightly.

It mattered little in terms of the outcome that Brian Murphy was forced off at the break with a groin problem to grant Paul Jones his first league outing of the campaign.

Considering the little action either keeper saw, they were spectators for the vast majority of the game.

Although Jones did produce a crucial 55th minute save from McConville, flinging himself to his right to keep out the midfielder’s shot.

It would prove to be Accrington’s best chance, while Pompey themselves only totalled two opportunities during the duration of the match.

Such absence of goalmouth action from either side was a fair reflection of a stalemate which long appeared unbreakable.

Granted, as is the style of Pompey these days, they enjoyed more possession, although not as dominant as in many previous encounters under Cook.

However, there was a failure to effectively utilise such an advantage on the ball as the attacking midfield trio of Gary Roberts, Kyle Bennett and Gareth Evans spluttered.

The final 10 minutes would see central defenders Burgess and Matt Clarke bringing the ball upfield in an attempt to open things up, but no chink could be crowbarred open.

Cook’s men had headed into the match unchanged from the side which defeated Luton, with matchwinner Tubbs remaining on the bench.

In fact, it was the same match-day XI for the Blues, as the manager stuck with those players who have given the club such a good start to the campaign.

Certainly the only debate with Pompey’s side at present lies with the identity of the lone striker – and perhaps whether Conor Chaplin should be given a run.

Still, it was largely Cook’s regular team.

But on this occasion they produced a blunt performance in front of a crowd which contained former Pompey favourites Jed Wallace and Erik Huseklepp.

In a largely pedestrian game, Michael Doyle did at least provide a moment of excitement when he latched onto keeper Jason Mooney’s clearance on 10 minutes.

The midfielder shot from his own half towards the unguarded net, only for the ball to bounce marginally wide, much to the back-pedalling Mooney’s relief.

It would be 32 minutes before Pompey won their first corner, while a left-foot shot from Roberts in first-half stoppage time represented a maiden shot on target.

It wasn’t until the 81st minute before Mooney was called into action again, denying substitute Tubbs’ acrobatic shot from Davies’ right-wing cross.

Sandwiched in between was Jones’ save from McConville – and that was the sum of everything.

A disappointing day then for this fresh, reinvigorated Blues under the Cook regime.

There will be others, no doubt, but the Fratton faithful will be hoping for plenty more punch along the way.