DCSIMG

AFC Wimbledon 4 Pompey 0

Andy Barcham. Pic: Joe Pepler

Andy Barcham. Pic: Joe Pepler

 

Without a word Iain McInnes rose to his feet in the directors’ box and strode away.

Michael Smith powering home a 90th-minute shot was clearly the tipping point.

Neither mouth or face betrayed the Pompey chairman’s deepest feelings which had reached boiling point amid the debacle unravelling in front of him.

By all accounts, McInnes had departed for the boardroom toilet for blessed relief in more ways than one.

Nonetheless, he didn’t return to his seat for the final five minutes of agony, not a chance, instead preferring solace elsewhere at Kingsmeadow.

As every Pompey fan present at the home of AFC Wimbledon on Saturday and those watching the screens at Fratton Park, the chairman was disgusted at what he had witnessed.

The ever-passionate McInnes’ often theatrical range of emotions and exclamations from the standard stuffy match-day directors’ boxes can be a captivating sight.

On Saturday, however, even he struggled to emotionally respond to goal number four for Neal Ardley’s rampant side.

On the terracing on the opposite side of the ground, others also departed, while some chanted ‘We want our money back’.

Many present for the Fratton beam back exploded into boos, at least safe in the knowledge their journey home to mull over the pathetic team performance was considerably shorter.

At least York had Jed Wallace’s wonder goal to raise the flagging spirits – Wimbledon just mustered up a double Trevor Carson save from a penalty.

Yes, the scoreline and humiliation would have been even heavier had the keeper failed in that particular challenge.

Talk in the build-up centred on responses, rousing speeches, lessons learned and owing the fans in the aftermath of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy loss to Newport.

Admirable sentiments, well done. But in reality the reaction instead raised serious questions over the managerial future of Guy Whittingham.

Make no mistake about it, the Blues legend’s place at the helm is under more scrutiny than ever before during a year-long tenancy due to what unfolded on Saturday.

Pompey fans can just about stomach defeat as long as they witness effort, endeavour and a fighting spirit from the players on the football pitch.

For the second game in succession – in addition to York – it has been glaringly and criminally absent.

Wimbledon was meant to be about bouncing back from two cup defeats in a row – instead it raised crucial questions over the personnel in the squad and the management.

And the feelings of the Pompey chairman were only too obvious from the moment he left his stadium seat.

After Newport, the players were hauled into training the following morning, displacing their traditional Wednesday day off.

Quite what punishment is next in store for such underachievers remains to be seen, although platitudes and apologies in the media must now end here.

Time to start performing on that football pitch, not merely for their own pride and the supporters, but also the future of their manager.

Talking a good game must be backed up by playing one – starting with the visit of Scunthorpe next weekend.

Granted, at Wimbledon the game was tight for a sizeable period, even at half-time there was only one goal in it to ensure the concept of a reversal could be achieved.

Ultimately, three goals in the final 17 minutes heaped on the humiliation as once again the Blues capitulated under the pressure in spineless fashion.

Of course, the failings were not only restricted to the defensive side of their game, they were diabolical all over the pitch.

At the other end, Whittingham’s men barely carved out a goal-scoring opportunity to even warrant a consolation effort to hang a slither of hope to.

Of the four strikers used – with Patrick Agyemang and Ryan Bird withdrawn through injury – none troubled the Dons’ defence.

The closest they came was a second-half save low down from Andy Barcham, while Jed Wallace’s right-wing cross was deflected by a defender against his own post.

True, until the appearance of Thery Racon off the bench there was a startling lack of creativity, vision and composure on the ball in midfield areas to even sufficiently feed the forwards.

Even then that attacking move by Whittingham to introduce him in place of Ertl with the scoreline at 1-0 ended up with those three late goals shipped.

Ever the scapegoat it seems, up until his 56th minute exit, Ertl had been a powerful presence in the midfield area, albeit in a defensive sense rather than attacking.

Elsewhere, Simon Ferry upon his return from injury was swatted away and did not seize enough time on the ball, while Wallace was ineffective and subdued.

Barcham had the odd moment, but it was increasingly rare, while the defence were a shambles from start to finish.

Whittingham had even sacrificed Yassin Moutaouakil’s attacking capabilities in favour of fielding a stronger back four, but they let their manager down.

Carson had already saved Harry Pell’s penalty after bringing down Kaid Mohamed in the build-up, also stopping the midfielder’s follow-up.

Then in the 33rd minute, Bondz N’Gala somehow sliced a clearance 30 yards from his goal behind for a corner-kick.

In the second phase of that set-piece, two men were left unmarked at the far post and Andy Frampton forced it home after Carson had initially saved.

The same player headed home in the 73rd minute, this time straight from Callum Kennedy’s corner, delivered from the right.

Number three arrived with Sammy Moore lashing an effort in from distance after N’Gala had initially produced a fine block.

Finally, as the match reached 90 minutes, keeper Ross Worner juggled the ball outside his area before volleying it forward and when it was flicked on Smith did the rest.

It was a fully deserved goal for the loanee from Charlton.

He gave the normally impeccable Bradley a torrid time throughout the contest.

The fourth official indicated five minutes of additional time but McInnes had already left his seat.

He was later spotted outside the boardroom greeting the opposition directors and congratulating them on a well-deserved victory.

Then it was off home to chew on the next step for Pompey because another display like that really is unthinkable.

 

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