Blues look bright in Ashton Gate stalemate
Pompey impressed in a goalless draw at Bristol City in their final dress rehearsal for the 2016/17 campaign.
They more than held their own against a City side who were skippered by Blues academy graduate Marlon Pack.
Paul Cook’s side created plenty of chances against higher-ranked opposition, but were not quite able to find a winner at the impressively-renovated Ashton Gate.
Pompey did not look over-awed against their Championship hosts and were passing the ball around confidently.
But despite enjoying plenty of possession in the opposition half, there were not too many clear-cut chances for either side before the break.
A stretching Aden Flint could not quite get enough on Joe Bryan’s free-kick to divert the ball on target.
Carl Baker had a couple of attempts at the other end of the pitch, only to clear the crossbar on each occasion.
Pompey’s best opening arrived on 14 minutes when Milan Lalkovic sent in a teasing cross that Christian Burgess could only glance wide of the post.
David Forde was not being overworked on his first appearance in a Blues shirt, but made a regulation save to deny Bryan from an acute angle.
He also looked confident when coming off his line to palm a Bobby Reid corner to safety amidst a sea of bodies.
It was generally positive stuff from Pompey, but that was a sour note on 34 minutes when Jack Whatmough went down injured.
The centre-back walked gingerly to the sidelines and had to be replaced in the Blues back-line by Tom Davies.
Bristol City 0
Pompey continued to impress after the interval, with Michael Smith not quite able to chase down dithering Robins keeper Richard O’Donnell.
The lively Lalkovic then went close when his shot caught a deflection and fizzed narrowly past the post.
It was the visitors who looked the more threatening side, although they were not quite able to really test O’Donnell.
There was a scary moment at the other end just past the hour mark when Forde failed to hold a corner, but the visitors were able to scramble the ball behind.
And Bristol City suddenly came alive, creating three chances in the space of a breathless minute.
First Forde came tearing off his line to deny Jonathan Kodija after the forward had been sent through on goal.
Substitute Luke Freeman then saw a shot deflected inches wide before Forde made a super stop to keep out Hordur Magnusson’s close-range header.
It was soon Pompey’s turn to threaten and O’Donnell had to fly across his goal to tip Baker’s cleanly-struck effort over the bar.
Gary Roberts was next to try his luck, with his shot hitting Kodjia, looping up in the air and having to be cleared from the line by a well-placed Luke Ayling.
And Michael Doyle twice went close to grabbing a late winner, first seeing his low drive turned past the post by O’Donnell, who then just about kept out the skipper’s volley.
But the home keeper soon dropped the ball at the feet of Conor Chaplin, only to see his blushes spared by Magnusson, who made a key block to ensure a stalemate.
Bristol City (4-3-3): O’Donnell; Matthews (Ayling 60), Flint, Magnusson, Golbourne (Smith 83); Reid (Brownhill 60), Pack (c), Bryan; O’Dowda (Freeman 61), Kodjia (Agard 77), Tomlin (Wilbraham 77)
Subs not used: Lucic, Williams, De Girolamo
Pompey (4-2-3-1): Forde (Bass 85); Talbot (Oxlade-Chamberlain 87), Whatmough (T.Davies 34), Burgess, Stevens (Naismith 87); Rose (Close 83), Doyle (c); Baker (Tollitt 83), Roberts (Main 83), Lalkovic (Bennett 68); Smith (Chaplin 68)
Subs not used: May, Linganzi, Evans, Hunt
Referee: Kevin Friend