By Mat Killeen
Portsmouth 1 Carlisle United 1
New signing Carl Baker netted his first goal for Portsmouth as they kicked off the new season with a 1-1 draw at home to Carlisle United.
The 33-year old midfielder who signed during the summer from now League 1 side Milton Keynes Dons cancelled out the 14th minute strike by Reggie Lamb.
Pompey got off to a quick start as Baker chased a through ball but over-ran it which enabled visiting keeper, Mark Gillespie, to tidy up and clear the danger.
Portsmouth dominated the first 10 minutes of the game causing some problems for the visitors from Cumbria and forcing keeper, Mark Gillespie, into a couple of good saves.
Despite the home side’s early attacking dominance, it was the away side that took the lead. Reggie Lambe got in behind Enda Stevens at the back and poked the ball past Blues’ keeper, David Forde, after 14 minutes.
The first yellow card of the new season at Fratton Park saw Carlisle’s Jamie Devitt cautioned after bringing down Drew Talbot. However, the free kick came to nothing as the defensive header away hit the referee.
Just before the half-hour mark, Devitt’s day was over after being shown his second yellow card; this time for a shirt pull on Pompey midfielder, Gary Roberts.
Following the sending off, Carlisle retreated into their shell and set up with a defensive mind-set which allowed Pompey to have more possession and the opportunity to create more chances as the game progressed.
The first decent shot of the second half came after a cross into the box from Milan Lalkovic. Michael Smith timed his run to perfection but was unable to convert the chance.
Carlisle with a rare shot. Nicky Adams with a shot on the volley after a throw-in putting the Pompey defence under pressure. However, it did not trouble Forde in the home goal.
As the away side continued to sit back and invite pressure with all 10 players parked behind the ball, Pompey fashioned more chances but were unable to take any of them. Kyle Bennett with a shot just after coming on but could not direct it on goal. United keeper Gillespie was also booked for time wasting.
Even the woodwork conspired against the home side. Danny Rose with a shot which was able to beat the goalkeeper but rebounded off the post instead of finding a home in the back of the net.
Baker’s impact on the game did not go unnoticed as the match day sponsors voted him as Man of the Match as the game drew to a conclusion.
The full-time whistle bought the game to an end. Carlisle’s defence remained impenetrable as they kept all men back, allowing Pompey to play but the home side were not clinical enough in front of goal.
After the game, Blues’ manager, Paul Cook, said: “If the result was a positive one, I’d be really pleased. The game took a twist with the sending off but it panned out the way it was going to pan out.” He added: “I felt the chances were coming quite regularly and you have to put one away which unfortunately we didn’t do. If you keep creating chances like that you are going to win plenty of football matches?”
Cook also had praise for Carlisle keeper, Mark Gillespie, who had been instrumental in keeping the scores level saying ‘He’s had a great day today’.