York 0 Pompey 0

James Dunne. Picture: Joe Pepler
James Dunne. Picture: Joe Pepler

Those gathered inside Bootham Crescent stood transfixed with a mixture of horror and bewilderment.

Andy Awford turned to his York counterpart with a wry smile.

‘I said to Nigel (Worthington) turn the floodlights off and we’ll come back tomorrow and let’s see if we’ll score!’ he later explained.

‘It didn’t look like it was going to be the day that sides would score, let’s try tomorrow.

‘We probably won’t score tomorrow either the way it is going.’

Positioned three-yards out with a free header, Ryan Brunt had conjured up an improbable miss on his Minstermen debut.

Team-mate John McCombe had steered a cross back into the six-yard box and there was the striker poised to net a stoppage-time winner.

Instead his header bounced wide of the far post and disbelief descended upon both benches, prompting Awford’s tongue-in-cheek response.

The final whistle which sounded shortly afterwards signalled a goalless draw – and for York the worst home start to a league campaign in their history.

Brunt should have given them victory, although Pompey should have inflicted a defeat, such are the fine lines, as ever.

A ‘glarer’ from the tall striker as Awford described but his own side had contrived to waste a number of glorious chances themselves to settle matters.

And that is the nagging concern for Pompey fans which is multiplying by the match at present.

The Blues have now failed to score in six of their last nine matches in all competitions as they continue to hover around the play-off spots.

The side whose defence they couldn’t breach last week, Hartlepool, slumped to a 3-0 home defeat to Carlisle on Saturday.

Under-fire boss Colin Cooper quit afterwards with the Pools rooted to the foot of League Two and fans incensed.

The trip to York represented opposition languishing in similar circumstances, scrambling among the bottom four with home supporters teetering on the brink of turning.

And once again the glaring inability of Awford’s troops to score was all too painfully obvious.

As in that Victoria Park encounter a week earlier, the Blues had the majority of possession and created around four excellent opportunities to net.

Worryingly, the outcome was also precisely the same as the visitors spurned some decent openings to see them depart with a point.

The Minstermen were unsure whether to laugh or cry at the scoreline which keeps them a point above the relegation zone and stretches a run to one win in their last 16 matches.

For Pompey and their 984 away followers the overriding feeling was one of immense frustration and opportunities missed – both metaphorically and literally.

They should have achieved far more against apparent contenders for Football League relegation. Again.

Michael Drennan and Craig Westcarr were paired as the latest strike-force solution as Awford made two changes to the side which lined up against Hartlepool.

Patrick Agyemang didn’t even make the squad having started the previous three matches, while for Drennan it was the first start of his second Pompey spell.

Elsewhere, Ryan Taylor was among the substitutes following his 45-minute return from injury for the reserves which yielded two goals.

Once again, however, there was no place in the match-day 18 for on-loan Miles Storey, another striking consideration.

Not that criticism could solely be levelled at the misfiring strikers as the York fixture unfolded on Saturday, the finger could be pointed across the team.

Danny Hollands somehow smashed a well-orchestrated first-half corner wide of the target when he had been presented with plenty of time and space.

Then he sent a free header wide from James Dunne’s cross during a Pompey attacking purple patch which ended the match.

During that same late period, Alex Wynter’s clever ball put through Jed Wallace, only for the top-scorer to fire straight at the keeper.

On 80 minutes, Westcarr completely missed his header from another excellent Wynter delivery from the right and was substituted seconds later.

Dunne fired a shot over the bar on another occasion, while Paul Robinson should have done far better with a header from a Westcarr left-wing corner in the first-half.

In a game of genuinely few goal-scoring opportunities, they represented glorious fleeting moments to be seized, particularly for a side with aspirations of the play-offs at the minimum.

And that, in a nutshell, is the concern.

Pompey are creating chances, not in vast amounts granted but gilt-edged realistic chances all the same.

There is a lack of sharpness in front of goal, perhaps best embodied by an out-of-sorts Westcarr, who was subjected to ironic cheers from away fans upon his 80th-minute substitution.

His goal against Yeovil in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last month remains lodged in the memory.

It was a moment of pure class from the striker.

Yet he is presently struggling in a team who simply cannot score, no matter the standard of the opposition, and his ongoing presence in the starting line-up remains under immense scrutiny.

Drennan did catch the eye against York, however, before his substitution in the 69th minute with cramp.

He was bright, full of running, energetic and equipped with movement, contributing several dangerous crosses from the left-hand flank in the first half.

But an element of concern will be he was providing those deliveries rather than being in the box to receive them.

After the latest blank, Awford has refused to be concerned, pointing out his team are creating so many good chances.

Unquestionably he has a point, Pompey have not been short of opportunities to net, neither have they been outplayed, Southend aside.

Regardless, the result is they have now failed to capitalise against two of the bottom four teams in League Two, albeit it away from home.

Their next scheduled fixture away from Fratton Park is Bury, currently top of League Two and a completely different proposition.

Blues followers will be hoping the goal touch can return long before that testing trip.