Pompey: How Craig MacGillivray silenced doubters in Fratton worldie
All eyes were on Craig MacGillivray.
The rest of League One was waiting for the wheels to come off Shrewsbury’s unlikely charge for the Championship.
And on a cold and miserable January afternoon at Fratton Park it looked like their campaign was finally unravelling.
Paul Hurst’s side had gone four games without a win, to see them arrive at PO4 with plenty suggesting their season was headed downwards.
To add to their fans’ fears, highly-touted Manchester United loanee Dean Henderson had been hit with a suspension on the eve of the game for throwing objects at supporters in a 3-1 loss at Blackburn.
That placed MacGillivray under the spotlight – and the Pompey new boy didn’t blink for a second.
An impressive display – including three fine saves – ensued as the 25-year-old helped his team’s memorable season regain impetus.
For the man himself there was never any doubt he’d do himself justice.
MacGillivray said: ‘I did what I had to do that day.
‘At the time, Portsmouth were the opposition and it was a big game for Shrewsbury.
‘It was around that stage we had a blip and everyone was thinking that’s it now.
‘We’d just had a couple of losses and everyone was questioning whether the wheels were coming off.
‘I think Scunthorpe did it the year before when they had an unbelievable first half to the season and then just blew up.
‘They slipped down the table rapidly and ended up just scraping into the play-offs.
‘But we managed to keep going after that result.
‘I hadn’t been playing as much, so me coming in got heightened.
‘There was a big thing made of me coming in and Dean being away on international duty.
‘To be honest, it didn’t bother me in the slightest.
‘I had full faith in my ability and so did my team-mates.
‘I had a good game that day, definitely, but it was the same as the season on a whole.
‘I played 14 games and every time I came in I played very well.’
Being behind Henderson proved a frustrating experience in MacGillivray’s single campaign at New Meadow.
But the man himself had a conviction about his quality and what he was capable of producing when called upon.
MacGillivray added: ‘I felt I did just as well as Dean Henderson, if not better on occasions.
‘It was unfortunate for me he did well and continued playing.
‘But the club were definitely very happy with how I was doing.
‘If I’d had a wobble there would have been question marks over putting me in but it was good.
‘I constantly wanted to say I’d played well and to put me back in.
‘I had to think at the same time if someone is doing well it is what it is.
‘You have to keep knocking on the door and putting on pressure. Then when you get the chance you take it.’