Mixed feelings for Whittingham after Dons stalemate

David Connolly netted for Pompey
David Connolly netted for Pompey
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Guy Whittingham had mixed feelings as he reflected on extending Pompey’s record-breaking winless run.

A 1-1 scoreline against MK Dons last night marked a third draw out of the Blues’ last four matches.

It’s certainly an improvement having lost nine successive fixtures to equal the club record before drawing at Hartlepool two weeks ago.

The importance of that new-found resilience is not lost on Whittingham, who has been caretaker boss for 19 of those 23 matches without victory.

At Fratton Park last night, however, he was disappointed not to have finally secured that precious triumph.

The Blues dominated the first half and were comfortable throughout against a Dons side, who – despite having their sights set on promotion – were made to look ordinary.

The hosts had to settle for a point, though, as they remain at the foot of League One.

For Whittingham, however, it was a result which could have been better.

He said: ‘We certainly went out and executed the game plan as we wanted, that’s for sure.

‘That was even more frustrating because they had done so well in the first half and hadn’t gone in at the break leading the game.

‘You take the positive out of it but that is something we should have done.

‘I suppose in the past we may have ended up conceding in the second half and ended up losing.

‘But we had asked them to win the ball higher up the pitch – which we did – and we still didn’t score after that.

‘I would like to think MK Dons didn’t look like hurting us in the second half after we played so well in the opening 45 minutes.

‘They had a lot of possession and we knew at times they would do because they are a good footballing side.

‘But we had to remain a little bit more patient in the second half and our legs had gone a little bit because of the huge effort we put in in the first half.’

David Connolly’s 22nd-minute opener marked his first goal for the club.

It was also a rare occasion the Blues took the lead in a match, a long-term concern even going back to Michael Appleton’s tenure.

Shaun Williams equalised just five minutes later and the teams remained level until the final whistle.

However, Connolly’s header was the first time since Boxing Day Pompey had scored first.

That was when Paul Benson netted against Crawley – although the Blues went on to lose 2-1.

Taking the lead was another plus point for Whittingham during continued troubled times.

He added: ‘It is vital to score first in leagues.

‘You look at all the statistics, teams that score first very rarely lose the game.

‘We didn’t lose the game, we didn’t win it but we didn’t lose it. That’s vitally important.

‘It’s very pleasing we approached the game like we did but frustrating we didn’t keep the lead.’