Colchester 2 Pompey 2

Debutant Liam Walker played a staring role for Pompey as Michael Appleton's side earned a draw from their trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium
Debutant Liam Walker played a staring role for Pompey as Michael Appleton's side earned a draw from their trip to the Weston Homes Community Stadium
Dion Donohue has signed a two-year deal at Pompey Picture: Colin Farmery

Pompey new boy’s out to continue rise

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Liam Walker grew up in Spain hearing Pompey tales delivered by his uncle and nan.

Now the 24-year-old is writing his very own story in the Fratton Park annals as he continues to shine so brightly.

Colchester represented the opposition on the day the midfielder, born in Gibraltar to parents from Waterlooville, made his Blues bow.

The red tape finally negotiated hours earlier with the Spanish FA, ensured Walker had the green light.

How fitting then that he and fellow new arrival Jordan Obita should emerge as the crucial performers in last night’s 2-2 draw.

Obita himself only officially arrived on loan from Reading earlier in the day, for what could be Michael Appleton’s final recruit of the transfer window.

Finances, as ever, will dictate that.

That is unless the Blues boss can raise around £60,000 to aid his push for three more players.

Still, Walker and Obita were added to the squad which so impressively grabbed a point against Bournemouth in the league opener on Saturday.

Granted a start, it was the Gibraltar player who would emerge as the pick of the Pompey players at the Weston Homes Community Stadium.

Initially starting on the right-hand side of midfield, Walker created Luke Rodgers’ 30th-minute opener.

After switching inside to the centre, following injury to Lee Williamson, he would strike the post in the second half for what would have capped an eye-catching performance.

However, Michael Rose’s 30-yard thunderbolt on the stroke of half-time and Magnus Okuonghae’s far-post finish seven minutes from the end tipped the match Colchester’s way at 2-1.

Cue the on-pitch arrival of Obita – on in place of the substituted Jack Compton – and with his first touch grabbing the equaliser just one minute later.

The Reading winger was perfectly placed at the far post to net from close range after Rodgers had initially struck the post.

Netted in front of the away end housing 1,114 Pompey fans, it was the perfect introduction for the youngster.

Certainly a favourable impression along with Walker, who continues to promise much in these early stages of his Pompey career.

In the end it was Colchester who finished stronger, but Appleton’s men hung on through four minutes of time added on to take a point.

A stern challenge, unquestionably, yet another point for the Blues boss as he continues to ease his new-look side through their baby steps together.

And judging from the impacts of Walker and Obita, the duo could play vital parts during the campaign – however long that may be.

Walker was the only change to the side which drew to Bournemouth on the opening day of the League One season.

Granted international clearance earlier on the day of the Colchester trip, Appleton threw him straight into the starting line-up.

He took the place of Kieran Djilali on the right-hand side of midfield, with the former Crystal Palace man dropping to the bench.

New-recruit Obita was also included in the squad – one of six substitutes for the visit to Essex.

However, that was still one short of a full complement of seven – albeit still two more than occupied it at Fratton on Saturday.

In an uneventful opening, Colchester were proving particularly dangerous from set-plays.

Inevitably, it was from a free-kick where they came closest to taking a 16th-minute lead.

Anthony Wordsworth fired in a 25-yard effort, but it was brilliantly finger-tipped over the bar by Mikkel Andersen.

Yet the visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark when Walker slid through a pass and Rodgers calmly slotted the ball beyond keeper Mark Cousins.

Moments later, a brave block from Paul Connolly thwarted Freddie Sears – the on-loan Leeds defender throwing his body in front of the striker’s powerful drive.

On 33 minutes, Lee Williamson limped out of the action, with Adam Webster replacing him to prompt a re-jig.

The teenager slotted in at right-back, with Mustapha Dumbuya moving up to the right-hand side of midfield and Walker coming into the middle of the park.

Approaching half-time, McLeod won a free-kick following a challenge which earned Brian Wilson a booking.

However, Compton’s delivery could only flash past the far post, with his team-mates unable to get a crucial touch.

On the stroke of half-time, John-Joe O’Toole wasted a glorious chance, heading over from close range following another good delivery from the impressive Wordsworth.

Yet in stoppage time, Rose conjured up a stunning equaliser from absolutely nothing.

Pompey cleared the ball from yet another corner but it fell to the defender who unleashed a ferocious left-foot rocket which screamed into the top corner of the goal.

Pompey almost regained the lead just minutes after the break in a bright start to the second half.

Firstly, Walker put McLeod clean through, but the ball never quite sat up for him as he has flanked by two defenders.

Then Walker followed up with a left-foot snapshot from just outside the area which smacked against the foot of the left-hand post.

In the 57th minute, Pompey fans behind the goal were screaming for a penalty after McLeod went down under a challenge from Wilson as he chased after the ball, but referee Lee Collins was not interested.

It was turning into the Walker show and, after seeing Cousins save his powerful drive, the midfielder clipped in a cross which McLeod somehow failed to head home at the far post.

Colchester, though, took the lead in the 83rd minute when Wordsworth’s corner was finished at the far post by Okuonghae.

But within a minute, Dumbuya’s blistering pace took him down the right wing.

He cut the ball back to Rodgers, whose shot struck the post.

But there was Obita with all the time in the world to steer the ball into an empty net and send the away fans into raptures to cap another encouraging performance.