More encouragement that wins are close

Pace, energy, commitment, courage, creativity and togetherness were all back.

The only things that were missing were the goals.

James Dunne was his usual tigerish self. Picture: Joe Pepler

James Dunne was his usual tigerish self. Picture: Joe Pepler

Make no mistake, had Pompey been ahead at half-time as they should have been, they would have gone on to win that game.

Unfortunately, during that excellent first-half display, they failed to score.

It’s a harsh fact that goals change games and if you don’t score when you are on top, it allows the opposition back into the contest.

There was much to be positive about though.

The much-maligned wing-back system worked a treat in that first half – largely because Josh Passley and Dan Butler have the energy and natural width to play those roles.

Back in central defence to the surprise of many was Ben Chorley – another one to plummet in the popularity stakes in recent times.

But he turned in perhaps his best display in a Pompey shirt, winning just about everything that came his way before a late ankle injury.

Alongside the dependable Paul Robinson, Jack Whatmough also looked like he had something to prove after his recent absence with a commanding display.

In midfield, James Dunne was his usual tigerish self while Danny Hollands, who has been a shadow of the player we saw at the end of last term for much of this campaign, was back driving midfield, winning tackles and influencing the game.

An in-form Hollands is among the best in the division and there was real evidence he is on the way back.

Jed Wallace enjoyed a central role, even though he still throws in those frustrating moments of rash decision-making among those moments of brilliance.

And up front, a partnership looks like it is starting to form in the shape of Ryan Taylor and Matt Tubbs.

Taylor may not be a regular goalscorer but his hold-up play is vital to the cause and allows Tubbs to make his sharp runs off him.

Tubbs, meanwhile, should have had at least two goals but looks well capable and was always a threat.

Let’s not get carried away. it was still only a 0-0 draw.

And it sparked memories of that encouraging goalless draw at leaders Chesterfield last season when we all thought Richie Barker had turned a corner. Five winless games later, he was gone.

But there is a different feel this time around.

Pompey have shown genuine improvement in recent weeks and those elusive victories now seem to be tantalisingly within grasp.

– STEVE WILSON