Carlisle 2 Pompey 2

Adam Webster had been there before of course, yet he wasn’t alone.

Team-mates Danny Hollands and Nigel Atangana were also present for the April agony of a Brunton Park draw.

Caolan Lavery cancels out Danny Grainger's opener from the penalty spot for Carlisle Picture: Joe Pepler

Caolan Lavery cancels out Danny Grainger's opener from the penalty spot for Carlisle Picture: Joe Pepler

On that occasion, substitute Charlie Wyke netted five minutes into stoppage time to claim a dramatic equaliser for the home side.

Pompey had fought back from 1-0 down to lead 2-1 going into time added on during the Good Friday encounter overseen by Andy Awford.

Then Wyke intervened with a composed right-foot finish to secure a 2-2 draw the hosts barely deserved and break Blues hearts.

Roll on 233 days and it happened again. Pompey retraced their footsteps to endure yet more Carlisle agony.

This time it was Danny Grainger who was the instigator for the momentous miscarriage of justice, on this occasion with a goal dripping in quality.

Nonetheless, it arrived in the fifth minute of injury time, in front of the Warwick Road End and cruelly deprived the visitors of a deserved 2-1 triumph.

Deja-vu for Webster, Hollands, Atangana and many of those 953 hardy souls who had again braved Pompey’s longest away trip of the campaign.

It would have been a first win in five league matches for Paul Cook’s side – and a thoroughly-deserved one at that.

Instead they have now draw nine League Two matches this season and slipped to fifth in the table.

Let it be said, though, the visitors were sublime in the first half, clearly free of the shackles which Fratton Park continues to apply, albeit without malice.

There was an air of freedom and confidence about their play during that spell, while a visibly relaxed Cook stood on the touchline early on drinking coffee from a cup during his surveying of proceedings.

Having reverted back to his favoured 4-2-3-1, this was the Blues at their most fluent during what has unquestionably been a stuttering season to date.

Still, they somehow they entered the break 1-0 down after the Cumbrians had netted with their only attempt at goal during the opening 45 minutes.

How those not present would have heaved a collective groan after learning the Brunton Park scoreline at that stage of proceedings. Those inside the stadium knew it was misleading.

Instead Carlisle fans growing ever more frustrated at the pressure they were being forced to endure were left pinching themselves at their lead.

The moment arrived in the 43rd minute when Danny Grainger, during a rare home foray into Pompey’s half of the field, charging down the left flank.

Christian Burgess came across to challenge and opted to produce the risky manoeuvre of a slide tackle so dangerously close to the penalty area.

The foul could not be disputed, although replays demonstrated the offence was committed just outside the box, certainly marginal.

A penalty it was and safely dispatched by Grainger, who was back in the side following a recent shoulder injury.

Improbably on reflection of play, Keith Curle’s side had broken the deadlock, while the bemused look on his Pompey counterpart’s face was perfectly judged.

The Blues’ ability to retain the ball has never been questioned during their concerning run of draws, in particular at Fratton Park.

However, on Saturday during that first 45 minutes they also demonstrated the cutting edge so glaringly missing to complement their approach play. Still the goals would not arrive, though.

Kyle Bennett had been restored to the starting line-up, as previously announced by Cook, with Marc McNulty dropping to the bench for the only personnel change.

The return of the 4-2-3-1 system also saw Adam McGurk occupy the role behind lone striker Caolan Lavery, with Gareth Evans and Bennett either side of him.

A logical formation switch considering its success on the road this season – and following the dissatisfaction with the 4-4-2 rolled out against AFC Wimbledon previously.

The failure at present, though, continues to be making dominance pay during their brightest periods of the match.

Saturday was no exception, with Lavery the chief culprit in the opening moments of the fixture following an excellent Ben Davies cross.

The right-back delivered the ball to pick out Lavery on five minutes, only for the unmarked striker to plant his header from eight-yards out in the direction of Mark Gillespie.

Carlisle’s keeper did the rest, beating it out, and the home side’s defensive unit carried on being busy during those opening exchanges.

Jason Kennedy cleared Webster’s shot from a corner off the line, while Gillespie was called upon to make a good save from the impressive Enda Stevens.

Evans’ shot was charged down amid appeals for handball, while another move saw Stevens’ delivery from the left agonisingly out of reach of the onrushing Evans.

Then, with their only attempt on Pompey’s goal of the half, the Cumbrians had the lead.

After the break, with the hosts having the goal advantage, the Blues were required to break down an opposition content to pile all their men behind the ball.

There were strong appeals for a Pompey penalty on the hour mark when Davies appeared to be barged over inside the box, only for referee Scott Duncan to award a foul outside.

The moment was a source of complaint from Cook and his players post match, particularly when Duncan had also consulted his linesman in the decision process.

Then, following the double entrance of McNulty and Tollitt in place of Evans and McGurk in the 63rd minute the match changed.

Moments later Tollitt whipped in a low cross from the right and Lavery had timed his run perfectly to slide the ball home for the equaliser.

The visiting faithful were still celebrating when McNulty made it two goals in three minutes with his first for the club, powerfully crashing home an effort on 68 minutes.

Unfortunately the Scot was forced off following a collision while defending a corner barely six minutes later.

Regardless, the Blues had their lead and headed towards full-time with their eyes fixed firmly on a morale-boosting victory.

Then, four minutes and 41 seconds into stoppage time, Grainger let fly from 25-yards with his right foot.

Brunton Park had seen it all before.