Bristol City 0 Pompey 0 - Neil Allen's match report

Pompey put in a good performance at Bristol City. Picture: Neil MarshallPompey put in a good performance at Bristol City. Picture: Neil Marshall
Pompey put in a good performance at Bristol City. Picture: Neil Marshall
New-boy David Forde registered a clean sheet as Pompey ended their pre-season programme with a highly-encouraging display.

Saturday’s fixture at a rebuilt Ashton Gate was absent of goals and saw the employment of 37 players as the occasion subsided into typical friendly fare.

Nonetheless, it was the Blues who reaped the greatest benefit as they demonstrated the qualities they believe can see them finally depart League Two.

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Certainly their Championship hosts were fortunate to escape defeat, leaving home supporters distinctly unimpressed with their progress.

In contrast, following eight pre-season matches, there is a undented optimism as Pompey head into next weekend’s Carlisle opener in an excellent place.

Such feelings of hope were extenuated following the outing against the Robins, with Forde forming the backbone to the result.

The goalkeeping position has long been one of immense concern to the Fratton faithful, yet the latest solution recorded a clean sheet in 87 minutes on pitch.

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Forde was strong in the air, his handling generally sound, while in the second-half produced a smart finger-tip save around the post from Hordur Magnusson.

A good first impression from the Millwall veteran who had arrived 24 hours earlier for a season-long loan.

It was left for Bass to appear as a substitute for the final three minutes to ensure the Blues registered only their second clean sheet of the summer having utilised six different stoppers.

Notably Paul Jones was not present on the bench, an absence explained by Paul Cook as yet another injury concern.

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Yet for all the positivity over the goalkeeper, this was a Pompey display which also heartened in so many other areas.

At times Cook’s troops played with customary swagger against higher-league opposition, comfortable in possession and offering threatening moments.

Similarly, the Robins also opted to play a patient passing game, which made for an intriguing fixture, irrespective of the lack of goals.

With Pompey fielding surely the same starting XI which will line-up against Carlisle, Cook has created a stable and fluent unit, the experimentation over.

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There was, however, a surprise with Kal Naismith making a late appearance, while Gareth Evans was unused having returned to training on Friday.

Meanwhile Jack Whatmough limped off in the 34th minute, put down to a hamstring concern rather than any more issues with his knee.

As it was, keeper Richard O’Donnell ensured Pompey didn’t leave with victory, pulling off superb second-half saves from Carl Baker and Michael Doyle.

Luke Ayling also headed a Gary Roberts attempt off the line in otherwise a match of few opportunities.

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And Pompey now stride confidently into their League Two opener.

Pompey: Forde (Bass 85 mins), Talbot (Oxlade-Chamberlain 87 mins), Whatmough (T Davies 34 mins), Burgess, Stevens (Naismith 87 mins), Doyle, Rose (Close 83 mins), Baker (Tollitt 83 mins), Roberts (Main 83 mins), Lalkovic (Bennett 68 mins), Smith (Chaplin 68 mins).

Subs Not Used: Evans, Hunt, Linganzi, May.

Bristol City: O’Donnell, Matthews (Ayling 60 mins), Flint, Magnusson, Golbourne (J Smith 83 mins), Reid (Brownhill 60 mins), Pack, Bryan, O’Dowda (Freeman 61 mins), Kodjia (Agard 77 mins), Tomlin (Wilbraham 77 mins).

Subs Not Used: Lucic, Williams, De Girolamo.

Attendance: 5,317 (721 away).