Jordan Cross looks back on Saturday’s draw with Carlisle and takes us through the key talking points...
New season, same issues?
Yes, on the surface of things it appeared a case of Groundhog Day for Pompey fans.
A defensive wall was placed in front of Paul Cook’s side – and they were unable to break it down.
But this wasn’t a tired and insipid performance from the Blues.
A total of 23 shots were racked up to Carlisle’s two, against a side whose ambitions were so limited they opted to play without a striker.
Pompey also came up against a keeper in inspired form in the shape of Mark Gillespie.
Some of the saves he made from Carl Baker, Kyle Bennett and Michael Doyle were out of the top drawer.
‘I can remember having three or four shots where I thought I was going to be running off celebrating,’ was man-of-the-match Baker’s assessment.
So often last season Pompey were lacking the inspiration to break down sides who sat back.
Too often players retreated into their shells as the minutes ticked by and consternation built among supporters.
Fortunately, although frustrating, you couldn’t say that was the case against Carlisle.
Cutting edge required
You couldn’t knock Pompey for their creativity against Carlisle.
But it’s a valid argument to say they needed to be more clinical against Keith Curle’s side.
Even factoring in an impressive goalkeeping performance, they needed to make more of their chances.
Carl Baker conjured a host of opportunities in a man-of-the-match display.
But he should have done better with the one which fell his way two minutes after the restart.
The attacking talent chose to take a touch instead of hitting his shot first time, and the moment passed him by.
On too many occasions, too, balls were dangerously fizzed across goal without anyone attacking them.
Michael Smith needs to do better in these situations, although the offside flag spared his blushes after missing a gilt-edged headed chance.
Paul Cook opted against going with two up top after Carlisle were reduced to 10 men until the 82nd minute.
The feeling was a Noel Hunt or Conor Chaplin might just have snaffled one of the chances which came the team’s way.
Jack’s mixed emotions
It was just his second Pompey start since suffering a career-threatening cruciate knee injury.
So to see Jack Whatmough in the Blues starting XI on Saturday was a cause for celebration on Saturday.
It’s probably fair to say Paul Cook wouldn’t have necessarily seen him in that position earlier in the summer.
But the Gosport teenager has got his head down and grafted in pre-season and shown his manager he’s a viable option for him.
Injuries to Tom Davies and Matt Clarke have worked in his favour, with Whatmough’s form in warm-up games stating he’s ready to be called upon.
The 19-year-old, by his own admission, had to come through a shaky start on Saturday.
He was big enough to say the fault lied with him for Reggie Lambe’s Carlisle opener.
Whatmough felt he should have squeezed up further, with Christian Burgess out of position from a ball over the top.
The England under-19 talent rode out a tricky 45 minutes, however, and, no doubt, will have learnt much from the experience.