ALBION suffered Valentine’s Day heartbreak on the south coast as Dane Scarlett’s stoppage time winner deprived Albion of what would have been a hard earned point.
The Tottenham Hotspur loanee showed the composure that most of his team mates had lacked during a tense ninety minutes with Albion throwing everything on the line in a disciplined defensive display that saw both Craig MacGillivray and John Brayford make vital last ditch interceptions to prevent a bright Pompey side grabbing the lead. It looked as if Albion had done enough to take a valuable point back home until Scarlett struck with a calm finish in a hectic penalty area two minutes into added on time.
Looking to build on three straight wins, Dino Maamria made two changes to the side that eventually got the better of Exeter on Saturday. One change was enforced with Mark Helm, an early injury casualty against the Grecians, ruled out of this game and his place going to Joe Powell who made his first league start since November. The other change saw Conor Shaughnessy ready for a start after his lengthy injury lay-off, the versatile Irishman slotting into a midfield role in place of Chris McCann. Sam Lavelle was brought onto the bench meaning that Jordan Amissah had to sit this one out allowing Jake Kean to be on the bench as substitute keeper if anything happened to former Pompey stopper Craig MacGillivray.
Pompey started the game with a good tempo and were soon starting to pop the ball around with confidence in the Burton half. It took until the fourteenth minute for them to create a noteworthy moment to threaten the Burton goal but when Joe Morrell saw an opportunity to shoot from 20 yards out Albion were reliant on the ir former Portsmouth stopper for getting a vital touch to turn it wide of the post.
Left back Connor Ogilvie also tried to catch MacGillivray out from distance on 21 minutes when pressure in and around the Burton box proved difficult to clear and the defender saw an opportunity to try his luck but it was straight at the Burton keeper.
Barely a minute later and Albion were denied by a remarkable save from Pompey keeper Josh Oluwayemi. A long throw from Tom Hamer unsettled the home defence and was helped to the back post where Powell set himself for a shot back into the corner and looked destined to open the scoring until the keeper somehow stuck out a leg to deflect it just wide of the post.
Zac Ashworth was having a very good tussle with Owen Dale and the Albion left back saw referee rim Robinson’s yellow card in the 36th minute for apparent persistent fouls even though it looked on this occasion as if Dale was guilty of the foul.
Both Jasper Moon and Deji Oshilaja also found themselves in Mr Robinson’s book as the game moved through five additional minutes at the end of the first half.
Half time: Portsmouth 0-0 Burton Albion
Albion had an early second half chance to grab the lead. Four minutes after the re-start Taylor slipped Walker in down the right and he was able to sue his pace to drive into the box and force a good save from Oluwayemi at his near post.
Portsmouth were then guilty of missing probably their clearest opportunity. Reeco Hackett finding plenty of space down the left to drill in a low cross that picked out Colby Bishop in the penalty spot but the striker stabbed his shot over the bar.
There was more of an ebb and flow about the second half but it was still Pompey who created the next chance as Paddy Lane scooped a shot over the bar from the edge of the box.
Powell drilled an ambitious long range effort well wide before Portsmouth broke quickly down their right but Owen Dale was equally wasteful when his chance came to shoot.
Sam Hughes also went into the referee’s book although neither Hughes or anyone else could be quite sure what the central defender had done.
With the game entering the final twenty minutes Albion turned to their bench and looked to Sam Winnall as he replaced Josh Walker. Pompey responded with a triple substitution of their own to try and unlock the game in the closing stages.
Dale was wasteful again when he found himself unmarked inside the box but could only head another Ogilvie cross well over the bar.
MacGillivray then produced an outstanding save to deny Bishop as the striker found room six yards out to get a firm header on a right wing cross but with half of Fratton Park erupting to celebrate their cheers were stifled by the Burton keeper getting down low to his right to turn the ball away.
Shaughnessy lasted until 82 minutes on his full return to action before he made way for Mustapha Carayol with Powell dropping a bit deeper to support Oshilaja in the middle. Lavelle got his first minutes in a Burton shirt replacing Powell late on and slotting into a defensive midfield role.
Skipper John Brayford produced a vital last ditch clearance from almost on his own goal line in stoppage time as substitute Michael Jacobs thought he had unlocked the Brewers defensive door but there was nothing anyone in a Burton shirt could do when SCARLETT was in the right place to convert when another Ogilvie cross was headed back into the danger area by Joe Pigott, another Pompey substitute to break Albion hearts.
ALBION: MacGillivray, Brayford, Hughes, Moon; Hamer, Shaughnessy (Carayol, 82), Oshilaja, Ashworth; Powell (Lavelle, 87), Taylor, Walker (Winnall, 71).
Substitutes: Kean, Kirk, McCann, Wakelin.
GOALS: POMPEY - Scarlett (90+2)
Referee: Tim Robinson
Attendance: 16,434 (103 away)