IT’S back to the drawing board for Burnley boss Eddie Howe as the Clarets fell victim to yet another late goal at Turf Moor.
League Two side’s Burton Albion and Barnet both notched late goals to force extra-time in respective Carling Cup clashes earlier in the season, and since then Clarets have shipped five goals in the final 10 minutes of fixtures against Southampton, Reading, Blackpool, Leeds and now Portsmouth on home soil.
In that sequence of games the Clarets have forfeited five Championship points, an addition which could have boosted Howe’s side on to the fringe of the play-off places.
“I thought we’d moved on from the late goal drama here against us,” Howe said. “It’s a really difficult one to take because we’ve had it before here (at Turf Moor) against Reading and Leeds.
“We felt we’d learned from that, and I didn’t really see that coming.”
But those are the fine margins that managers, players and pundits alike generally talk about in the game.
Instead of stretching an unbeaten run to four games and recording a second clean sheet in as many home games, a lapse in concentration in stoppage time gifted skipper David Norris the opportunity to earn Pompey their first win on the road in 14 outings.
“The disappointing thing is a point wouldn’t have been the end of the world for us, but we’ve got to make sure we learn from it,” said Howe.
“We go back to the drawing board now and make sure that our work during the week is good for a tough game against Brighton.
“We defended in the main very well again, but we didn’t get the clean sheet, so that’s a big disappointment.
“But for the majority of the game we took up good positions and defended our box well.
“We didn’t concede a great number of chances – it was a game of few clear-cut chances.
“If we’d have got the first goal, I think we’d have gone on to win the game.”
Michael Appleton’s adopted 4-5-1 approach to the fixture effectively nullified the Clarets’ attacking threat, preventing them from registering a single shot on target at the interval, and just managing to register three on referee Steven Rushton’s full-time whistle.
“I thought we were a team on top in the second half and trying to push for a winner,” said the Clarets boss. “It’s another blow to us.
“I think you have to give credit to Portsmouth for how they defended, I thought they nullified our attacking threat and defended crosses very well.
“They congested the midfield and made it difficult for us.
“They sat quite deep and we had it all to do to try and break them down, and I didn’t think we did it particularly well.”
Howe added: “We got a head of steam up when Pato came on in the second half but we didn’t really follow that through, and it looked like a 0-0, which we would have taken. We didn’t want it but we would have taken it. It’s a killer blow to concede like that. Credit to Portsmouth.
“I thought they defended our set plays very well and put balls into the box.
“You don’t get any easy games in this league – Portsmouth have some very good players in their squad and we knew it was going to be difficult.”