Keeper’s mixed feelings on Fratton return

Liam O'Brien impressed on his return to Fratton Park action for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler
Liam O'Brien impressed on his return to Fratton Park action for Pompey. Picture: Joe Pepler

LIAM O’BRIEN savoured his Fratton Park return for Pompey.

But the keeper’s pleasure at his penalty-shootout performance against Reading under-23s was tempered by conceding two goals in the 2-2 Checkatrade Trophy draw.

Paul Cook’s side came from two goals down to earn a draw against the Royals after 90 minutes.

But the game then went to a shootout with another point on offer for the winner in the much-maligned competition.

Despite O’Brien making three excellent stops, it was the Royals who picked up a 4-3 success in front of the lowest post-war crowd at Fratton Park for a senior fixture.

The 24-year-old kept out spot-kicks from Dominic Samuel, Tennai Watson and Shane Griffin.

But it was Tyler Frost who held his nerve to tuck away the decisive effort after Kyle Bennett, Jack Whatmough, Adam May and Milan Lalkovic missed for Pompey.

O’Brien admitted he loved stepping out at Pompey’s home once again after the former Academy talent’s return to the club this summer.

But that was tempered by conceding two goals in normal time to the Championship side’s under-23 outfit.

O’Brien said: ‘I have to be happy with the performance in the penalty shootout.

‘The saves were full length and pleasing but ultimately I let two goals in. Maybe they weren’t my fault, but, as a keeper you don’t want to be letting any in.

‘I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win but I’m happy with my performance and I did what I could. That’s all you could ask.

‘These games are great for lads who are trying to get games and minutes under my belt. For me it’s 90 minutes.

‘They’re great. I’m trying to think of the last time I played at Fratton Park. I think it was Manchester City in a youth cup game.

‘It was a long time ago, so I really was looking forward to it and enjoyed it. It’s a great place to play, I just wanted to win.’

The game will be remembered for the sparse crowd in the controversial competition, but O’Brien still enjoyed the occasion.

He is hoping his attitude is being noticed as he pushes David Forde for senior minutes.

O’Brien said: ‘I’m working hard and giving myself the best opportunity to get picked. It’s about being ready.

‘Fordey is a great professional and really good keeper, but I’ll keep pushing and hopefully my time will come.

‘Until then, if I keep working hard I’m only going to better myself.

‘This is perfect for me. A great club, a proper club with great fans.

‘So I’m appreciating it and working as hard as I can. I just hope people can see a difference in me to when I was here before.’