Smith wins praise from Whittingham

Matt Clarke Picture: Joe Pepler

Pompey pair scrap it out for centre-half spot

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Guy Whittingham paid tribute to Phil Smith’s performance after watching him keep Braintree at bay last night.

The 33-year-old pulled off some superb second-half stops at the Amlin Stadium to thwart the non-league outfit.

It helped secure a goalless draw in a match Pompey mustered just one shot on target over the 90 minutes.

Smith has still to make a competitive Blues appearance and has a fight with new arrival John Sullivan for a first-team spot.

But Pompey’s boss was understandably impressed with last night’s showing.

He said: ‘That was brilliant for Phil.

‘He is a decent keeper, he kept under the radar of a few clubs and we’re pleased to have him here.

‘He pulled off some really good saves.

‘I thought he caught well, commanded his six-yard box well and came for crosses, too.

‘Quite possibly we could have lost if it wasn’t for him but when you change a whole bunch of players after 60 minutes things are going to change and they had a couple of chances towards the end.

‘I have been thinking about who is going to be number one – I expect them to make it tough for me to choose.

‘You don’t want an easy decision as a manager.

‘You listen to all your staff but you have to make the decision yourself.

‘I will be really disappointed if I have an easy decision.’

Whittingham confirmed Sullivan will be given 90 minutes on Saturday.

It means he will have the opportunity to shine against his former club Charlton.

– NEIL ALLEN