Pompey proceed to pay a heavy price for conceding late strikes

Trevor Carson is beaten as Exeter equalise in stoppage time. Picture: Joe Pepler
Trevor Carson is beaten as Exeter equalise in stoppage time. Picture: Joe Pepler

Almost five years to the day, Fernando Torres headed home Yossi Benayoun’s delivery.

Liverpool had rallied from 2-1 down to clinch a Fratton Park victory and temporarily move above Manchester United at the Premier League summit.

Most galling of all, that February 7, 2009, Torres’ match-winner arrived in stoppage-time.

On Saturday, the Blues in their current guise and contrasting league surroundings were undone by a goal in similar gut-wrenching circumstances.

Arguably, Liam Sercombe’s strike was the hardest to stomach of all seven of those conceded in time added-on during the current campaign.

Nonetheless, it is a lengthening statistic which continues to undermine any drive to climb the League Two table away from relegation danger.

A total of seven points have been surrendered in such circumstances this season – a tally which would put Pompey into eighth spot in the league table.

Instead, they find themselves four points and four places above the relegation trapdoor which leads into non-league football.

Against Exeter, the bombshell landed after three minutes of additional time, forcing the surrender of two precious points against relegation rivals.

The previous occasion it has occurred during the Richie Barker reign was on New Year’s Day at high-flying Southend – his fifth match in charge.

Ryan Leonard’s spectacular strike in stoppage-time destroyed what would have been a worthy point for Pompey, transforming a 1-1 draw into a home victory.

Another point dropped in a campaign when they are becoming increasingly precious as the months tick down.

Then there was poor Andy Awford, who appeared to have steered the team to victory during the final fixture of his caretaker watch.

Andy Barcham and Patrick Agyemang had given the hosts a 2-1 lead over Wycombe back on December 4 in a re-arranged match at Fratton.

Then substitute Anthony Stewart headed home a corner four minutes into stoppage time as the Chairboys snatched an unexpected point.

The contribution during Guy Whittingham’s era arrived in September, during an agonising 2-2 draw at Cheltenham.

Jermaine McGlashan netted two minutes into stoppage time, making it a double in the match for the pacy winger who had also levelled in the first half.

It represented two points lost for the visitors, who would also concede in time added on during the following match at Burton.

Except, on that occasion, skipper Zander Diamond’s 96th-minute goal was nothing more than a consolation for the Brewers in their 2-1 defeat.

That Burton encounter was one of three matches in which the overall result was not affected after the Blues had conceded in stoppage-time.

James Constable pulled one back for Oxford in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, with Pompey running out 2-1 victors.

And in November, Michael Smith rounded off AFC Wimbledon’s 4-0 rout during Whittingham’s penultimate match in charge.

When Torres struck it ended the Pompey management career of Adams – a few more similar finales as experienced at Exeter on Saturday could well hasten the club’s departure out of the league.