Promotion qualities and two key performances delivered Doncaster return

Brett Pitman offered a positive performance at Doncaster. Picture: Joe Pepler
Brett Pitman offered a positive performance at Doncaster. Picture: Joe Pepler
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Pompey writer Jordan Cross assesses the 0-0 draw at Doncaster to see what we learnt from the game.

Promotion Qualities.

Pompey have found themselves under pressure in games this season.

But they haven't quite come under the concerted onslaught they faced in the first half at Doncaster.

So emerging with a clean sheet after being under siege by Grant McCann's men was another box ticked for the Blues.

In the corresponding fixture last season, Kenny Jackett's men found themselves two goals down in five minutes after an early collapse.

This time around Pompey stood firm in the face of the waves of attack from the home side.

True, the defending was often of a last-ditch nature with bodies on the line and clearances at the death rather than stifling McCann's side.

And Craig MacGillivray was again required to earn his his money with his presence a reassuring one after an unconvincing early clearance.

Pompey repelled Doncaster for 45 minutes and the conviction they could hold out allowed them to grow into the game after the restart, when they had the better chances.

As Jackett himself highlighted Pompey have picked up four points from six in two games they harvested nowt from last season.

That progress signifies qualities needed if the Blues are to be contenders this term.

Call for Close

Kenny Jackett turned to Ben Close in a bid to get a foothold on the game at Doncaster.

And the midfielder responded by producing a man-of-the-match performance and helping turn the game around at the Keepmoat Stadium.

With a briefing to take the sting out of the home side's play by getting on the ball, Close did exactly that to help his side gain control of the flow of the game.

It was typically unflashy from the Southsea talent as he broke up play, retained possession and moved the ball left and right.

But it was a desperately-needed platform from Pompey to build from, after a first 45 minutes in which Ben Whiteman and Herbie Kane dominated centrally.

Ben Thompson was the man sacrificed at the interval on a yellow card, after a quieter afternoon from the Millwall loanee after a flying start to his Pompey career.

Jackett feels Close has needed to build momentum after a truncated pre-season because of a hamstring injury.

A 60-minute outing at Blackpool has been his only league start so far, but he now appears to be well and truly back in contention.

And that presents Jackett with an interesting selection dilemma for Saturday's meeting with Plymouth.

Pitman Plus

Brett Pitman sounded a message to Kenny Jackett with his second-half display at Doncaster.

And everything about the Pompey captain's display spoke of a renewed vigour in his game on his return to the side.

There's no questioning Pitman's finishing quality, and he remains one of the best in the business at sticking the ball in the back of the net.

But Kenny Jackett has asked for more from the former Bournemouth man's all-round game and wants him to contribute more to Pompey's play.

Pitman certainly did that with a strong 45-minute showing at the Keepmoat.

The 30-year-old went close with one effort in the 65th minute in a move which saw Gareth Evans twice denied.

It was the other side of Pitman's game which was noted, though, as he dropped deep into Pompey's half to track runners and deny the home side space.

Crucially, the skipper's body language spoke of positivity as he competed, created space and was a willing runner up front.

With Oli Hawkins below par in the first 45 minutes it will be interesting to see who gets the nod to continue up front.