Pompey stay in play-off hunt with Pilgrims draw

Pompey striker Brett Pitman
Pompey striker Brett Pitman
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Pompey maintained their promotion push with a well-fought goalless draw at promotion-rivals Plymouth.

Kenny Jackett’s side remain just outside the League One play-off places following the stalemate at Home Park.

But will take great heart from their performance against an in-form Plymouth outfit.

Both sides exchanged chances in an intriguing game, yet Pompey will feel aggrieved not to claim all three points with Jamal Lowe’s late effort cleared off the line by Zak Vyner, before Pilgrims defender Oscar Threlkeld headed against his own bar late into injury-time.

Pompey settled into the game well at Home Park, but it was the hosts who registered the first effort.

Plymouth dangerman Graham Carey picked the ball up 30 yards from goal, yet his snapshot failed to test Blues keeper Luke McGee.

The Blues’ first effort came in the 25th minute, but it was one Dion Donohue would probably chose to forget as his right-foot shot from the edge of the box went well wide of the target.

It was a signal Pompey were growing into the game - a fact reinforced when Brett Pitman spread the ball out wide to Jamal Lowe on the half-hour mark.

The winger ran at the Pilgrims defence before shooting, but his effort was calmly collected by home keeper Kyle Letheren.

The best chance of the game came seconds later, falling to the Blues’ top scorer Pitman.

Lowe played the ball into the box, with the striker running into the six-yard area.

A goal looked a certainty, but Pitman fluffed his lines and diverted the ball into the hands of the welcoming Letheren.

The game began to fizzle out as half-time approached - but there was still time for penalty appeals from the hosts on 43 minutes.

However, referee Dean Whitestone saw no infringement when Ruben Lameiras was challenged by Jack Whatmough, with the Pompey defender immediately registering his annoyance with the Pilgrims winger for an apparent dive.

The second half began with Lowe dragging his shot wide right in front of the Blues fans situated in Home Park’s away end.

Yet it was the Pilgrims who settled better after the restart - and Carey was at the centre of it as he registered a hat-trick of efforts at McGee’s goal from long range.

The visitors were struggling to get out of their own half and keep possession.

A rare venture forward saw substitute Connor Ronan pick out Pitman at the back post, but the unmarked Pompey striker failed to make the most of the freedom afforded him in the home side’s penalty area.

There were then appeals for a Blues penalty when Kal Naismith was challenged by Plymouth full-back David Fox.

The referee, however, awarded a corner kick, from which Jack Whatmough headed into the out-stretched arms of Letheren, who was under pressure from Lowe.

Pompey had once again risen to the challenge posed by the hosts and continued to grow in stature as the full-time whistle approached.

Pitman hooked a shot over the bar on 83 minutes when Ronan was perhaps better placed to shoot.

Then Lowe linked up well with Gareth Evans but was unable to apply the finishing touch with a close-range header.

The Blues were handed two further opportunities in injury-time.

Lowe saw his effort cleared off the line by Vyner in dramatic fashion, before Threlkeld headed against his own bar as the home side looked for the final whistle to blow.

Their wish was granted moments later as Pompey secured a point at one of their main promotion rivals.