How Pompey are shaping up for the new campaign
PompeyÂ writer, Will Rooney, picks the bones out of Saturday's 1-1 draw with FC Utrecht and sees what we learnt ahead of the League One curtain-raiser against Luton on Saturday. Â
It's almost certain that the back five who started against FC Utrecht will againÂ line up against Luton TownÂ on Saturday, providing there are no injuries picked up this week.
If it wasn't for a Sean Klaiber's thunderbolt for the visitorsÂ on Saturday, a clean sheet would likely have been collected.
Pompey's rearguard looked well-organised, resolute and difficult to breach against the Dutch top-flight outfit,Â
Early in the match, Jack Whatmough shepherded the ball out with the utmost of ease when under pressure from Gyrano Kerk.
Matt Clarke was still bringing the ball out from the back with his swashbuckling runs, while full-backs Lee Brown and Nathan Thompson were barely troubled.
Although Craig MacGillivray stood no chance with Klaiber's thunderbolt, the keeper did make a smart save from Sander van de Streek to keep the Blues just a goal down.Â
Curtis' bright start
When Ronan Curtis was announced as man of the match on the PA system, there weren'tÂ many inside Fratton Park who could have grumbled.
It was the forward's reward for a fine performance against FC Utrecht - despite failing to put the ball into the back of the net.
Curtis had a surplus of gilt-edged opportunities to getÂ his name on to the scoresheet.
One header from a Tom Naylor free-kick in the first half failed to work the goalkeeper, while he was left blushing when he didn't to make contact with Brandon Haunstrup's cross after the break.
And Curtis was denied by a decent save when put through on goal minutes later, although his finish lacked conviction.
Regardless, it was still an encouraging performance from the former Derry City man.
It was his cross which lead to Anton Walkes' equaliser, while his work-rate was perennial throughout.
Curtis has settled in to life at Pompey seamlessly and there's no doubt his finishing will improve.
Improving Pompey's prowess from set-pieces was a constant rhetoric from Kenny Jackett last season.
It's something they've worked hard on during the summer -Â and looks to be paying dividends.
Granted, the Blues foundered when trying to put the ball away from corners and free-kicks.
Matt Clarke had two golden headed chances, while Ronan Curtis also missed one.
But their movement inside the box caused complications for the Utrecht defence.
If Pompey become more ruthless when handed opportunities, there should be an upturn of set-piece goals this season.