Sports writer, Will Rooney, picks the bones out of Saturday’s 1-0 win over Plymouth and looks at what we learnt.
Rose continues to bloom
There were sections of the Fratton faithful baulking at Danny Rose not being in the Pompey starting line-up in League One.
After the draw at Wigan in August, the experienced midfielder found himself either on the bench or not in the matchday squad at all for the best part of two-and-a-half months.
Nevertheless, after five successive starts, Rose is proving his quality and relishing his position as the senior player in central midfield.
After a sluggish start to the campaign, the 29-year-old is now displaying he can not only meet the demands of the third tier but thrive.
The former Manchester United trainee yet again delivered an adept performance alongside Ben Close in the midfield.
The pair complemented each other profusely, with the Blues Academy product becoming more cultured and composed on the ball all of the time.
Rose harried and pressed tenaciously to neutralise Antoni Sarcevic and David Fox in the engine room.
And his ability to roll a Pilgrims man to create space in tight positions - often in his own half - helped the hosts keep the ball and frustrate Derek Adams’ troops.
Since the departure of Michael Doyle, Pompey have missed nous and know-how in central midfield - Rose has stepped up to the task.
A few twitchy faces were likely pulled when the teams were announced an hour before kick-off.
After inspecting each starting line-up, it became evident that Brandon Haunstrup had the task of marking Plymouth talisman Graham Carey.
The Pompey Academy product is still very much learning his trade in League One. After a run of five starts earlier in the season, his chances had been limited to just three games after the defeat to Rotherham in September.
After an encouraging performance for the reserves against Leicester and Dion Donohue out injured, Haunstrup was recalled to the left-back role, with Matt Clarke moving back into central defence.
Apart from one mazy run which yielded a cross into Pompey’s box in the first half, the Waterlooville talent thwarted the threat of Carey superbly.
Midway through the second half, Haunstrup produced a crunching challenge on the Irishman, which epitomised their battle at Fratton Park.
As a result, the Pilgrims’ talisman was substituted in the 79th minute with Derek Adams admitting Carey ‘didn’t do enough.’
Going forward, Haunstrup also produced the goods. The shackles were unleashed for him to attack and an intricate passing move on 15 minutes resulted in the 21-year-old having an effort saved by Remi Matthews.
Chaplin and Naismith’s chemistry rubs off
With Brett Pitman remaining absent with a hamstring setback, the responsibility to spearhead Pompey’s attack fell to Kal Naismith.
And Conor Chaplin replaced Curtis Main in the number 10 role in behind.
Both haven’t had as many minutes on the pitch as they’d have liked this season - and both showed their boss exactly what they’re capable of.
The pair are good mates off the pitch and their chemistry rubbed off against Plymouth.
Naismith’s may have prodded into an empty net to open the scoring, but his pressing and willingness was a key factor behind him dispossessing the indecisive Remi Matthews.
Coming up against Sonny Bradley and Yann Songo’o, the Scot relished the aerial dual and his work-rate was superb.
Making his first League One start since September, Chaplin engineered two chances to the Blues in the second period.
His perfectly-weighted ball found an incoming Gareth Evans, who forced a brilliant save from Matthews from point-blank range.
And the Worthing talent, a live wire throughout, pipped Antoni Sarcevic to the ball before threading through a pass through to Naismith, who struck the post.